Sep 25, 2009

what relationships are worth saving?

I read a random quote on the "Five For Fighting" video for "Superman" via YouTube. Check this out:
"if I had superman's power, I wouldnt save anyone. why save people when people most of us arent very genuine anyways?" - mpham1974
Wow. That deep cynicism got me thinking about a question most of us ask inside and often get tired of wondering about.

What relationships are worth saving?

Think about it - you and I each have relationships in life that are frustrating:
  • The person who has labeled you because it's more convenient than them taking the time to get to know you.
  • The petty "jabber" whose words about you feel like punches... as if they'd rather box with you than connect with you.
  • The once-great-friend who now won't return phone calls.
  • The "old gang" whom you hear about and read online of the latest thing they did together or movie they saw... but sort of overlooked inviting you.
  • The individual whose life is going a different direction than yours, and they've decided they'd rather not be reminded of that by hanging out with you.
  • The household who seems negative toward yours - perhaps with misunderstanding, envy, anger, or one of the other "seven deadly sins" (if that list is even accurate, let alone conclusive).
  • The silent treatment you continue to receive from those who have pulled away and continue to act as if there is nothing wrong.
(It's exhausting, isn't it?)

What do you do when you don't know what to do (and question if you even have the energy to do it)?

If you've made it this far in reading all of this, I have good news... you have displayed an incredible sign of commitment by even being interested in this topic. You may not think so, but in a world that says, "Let's just agree to disagree" you have said, "Actually, let's agree to work it out." It says that you are interested in finding a way to reconcile a relationship that has somehow fizzled into something less than what it's been.

This is to be applauded, for it honors the heart of God in more ways than you realize... it's in the vein of what Jesus has done for us, and that makes all the difference.

This is why the Bible speaks of this:
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:14-15)

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
What does all of that mean? Plain and simple, if you consider yourself a Christian you have no right to build a wall with another person. We know this because Jesus didn't build a wall to you and I but instead opted for building a bridge.

Go back and read that... seriously, don't overlook this. Because if you want to overlook those Scriptures as well as others on this theme, I humbly yet boldly ask that you would stop calling yourself a Christian. It's embarrassing and immature when we can't live out the most basic calling to share what we have been given... forgiveness, restoration, love, grace, and so on.

Now that said, again - you've made it this far in reading - which means you are considering that you want to reconcile. These verses illustrate that when you desire that you are attempting to do two things in this relationship...
  • You are attempting to reconcile/connect with you.
  • You are attempting to help this person reconcile/connect with God.
In both situations, there is only so much you can do. We know that, and unfortunately we often use that as an excuse that we've "tried" and "it just didn't work out." Perhaps you did try, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't continue.

It hurts... I know. Believe me... I know more than I can share here.

Again, though, remember Jesus and His example. For even when you are done "doing" those things, and they still won't pony up on their end, you can be confident in the bedrock foundation you have provided on your end. It says, "No matter what, my door is open to you when you want to have a real deal friendship." And likewise, "No matter what, God's door is open to you when you want to have a real deal relationship with Him, too."

Because while we can't control what the other person will do, we can control what we will do. So maybe we should?

You and I will hit walls in living this out. And they will hurt. The other side of the relationship will decide not to make the same kind of investment you want to make. They will act childish at times and be quite inconsiderate of your feelings. Perhaps not because they want to hurt you, but because they find it too scary to enter into an authentic friendship.

In most cases, people haven't learned these skills growing up and sort of become big people who can still act like little people. Again, that's not a slam - but it's a reality many find themselves in. So when you choose to not play games because you really care about them, it may not be received - not because they don't want to, but because they may be simply unaware of their behavior and how it affects others. Your relational authenticity comes across as if you wore comfortable clothing to a suit and tie event... the people in the room felt like they had to get dressed up in certain clothing, whereas you are confident in not playing that game.

Consider the alternative, though. Consider "giving up" - going your own way, abandoning the person, ending on an awful note. You may feel vindicated to do so, and yet you are only contributing to the death of the relationship.

On the other end, consider where bridge building could lead! You may see something restored and reconciled in a few years that right now is tearing up your heart. Is that worth fighting for? Even the hope of that?

I am foolish enough to say yes. Let me say that even more openly - I am absolutely stupid enough to say yes. I am a dumb, dumb believer that the way things are isn't the way they need to stay. I "ignorantly know" people are capable of more than they realize, and I unreservedly call them out on it - like when a kid busts an adult for breaking a rule, and the adult knows he/she has been caught. Yeah... that's me. I remind people that this game of mask wearing isn't necessary, and they often look at me as if it is.


And I will continue to have this childlike faith in what it might look like one day if I hang on to and live out the promises my Daddy told me were true.

That's why nurturing my own relationship with God is so important. For if I do I can the fruit of that... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are things I absolutely need if I'm going to keep on keeping on.

And you may have to try alternative ways to talk with them, especially if they won't acknowledge the issue. You'll ask, "Is everything okay?" and get the "Sure, everything is fine," but you know it isn't. Talk about why you wonder - circumstances and actions that make you question it - and ask, "Help me understand, then, why this is/isn't happening." Express your commitment to them, even if it isn't reciprocated. Love doesn't demand a return... it proclaims the investment "no matter what."

What relationships are worth saving? All of them.

For even if they don't pan out and allow you to see the full work of God in them, there were be a work of God that happens in you in all of its fullness.

That alone is worth the uphill journey.

Hang in there... you just may see a miracle. It just may take some time, and a whole lot of God.


Jessie Blanchard said...

Thanks for posting this it was very encouraging and powerful stuff! People can be so discouraging sometimes especially when all I want is for someone to just be real and express how they are really feeling, or when I lose people in my life because I am open in how I am feeling or challege them in some way to grow and they don't want to hear it. Thanks for the challenge to stay strong in that and the reminder that is it worth it in the end.

Tony Myles said...

You got it, Jessie.