One area that God is working on my heart is relationships. I don’t know about you, but once you’ve been burned in a relationship once, or twice or many times… you tend to shy away from getting in too deep, at least that has been my experience. Over the years, the dynamics of relationships with people (family, friends, co-workers etc.) change. Often that change is just due to going in different directions, change of proximity or just plain ol’ life. Sometimes, that change is because of an escalated situation, “a period of intense fellowship” as Pete Wilson would like to say. For example, I still deal almost daily, to some extent, with the loss of a friendship that I cherished dearly. I don’t know where it went wrong, I even asked a while back if there was something I did (which is VERY likely, I ain’t all nicey nicey all the time and I don’t always do and say the right things…) but to me there was/is seemingly no explanation. I was hurt, felt abandoned – dropped like a bad habit. Because of that hurt, I have spent a long time, too long, being VERY CAUTIOUS in how close I let someone in… not willing to subject myself to that hurt again. In fact, if a relationship starts heading south, I just flip the emotional switch (just like the picture on the right) – cut off the potential source of hurt – before it cuts too deep. I know I’m not alone in this – early on in ministry we were given the advice to “not get close to anyone in our ministry” because it will only backfire and you will get hurt.
It is true, when you’re human (which I am and I’m assuming you are) and you have relationships with other humans, there is the possibility and even likelihood that you will get hurt at some point. But that is NO REASON to not pursue relationships with others. I mentioned earlier a book that I am reading about spiritual warfare. One thing it pointed out to me this past week in Chapter 6 is that in striving for Christlikeness, “our calling is to focus on Jesus.” We can spend a lot of time focusing on the spiritual warfare in our lives, and the struggles/hurts/hardships – but if we never focus on the GOOD, our focus is off balance. “The true gift called ‘discerning of spirits’ is a balanced gift which enables you to recognize at least as many angelic spirits as you do evil spirits.” God doesn’t want me (or you) to get stagnant, hold back or be hesitant to plunge into a relationship out of FEAR. He didn’t give us a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). In fact, as PK pointed out yesterday, He values relationship. He created us for relationship! Mark 12:28-31 says basically that we should 1) Love God and 2) Love Others. That means, have a relationship with God AND have relationships with others.
That being said, I’d like to point out some blessing, some angelic spirits in my life… I’m so thankful for a relatively new friend that God has brought into my life. I was hesitant at first, cautious, slow to really trust, but God has given me a friend for this season of life that is an encouragement, an iron-sharpener, a co-laborer and on top of all that simply fun to be around! I’m thankful for a BFF who despite the physical miles between us, we are there for each other, accept each other as we are (real-life junk and all) and work out this thing called “life” together. I’m thankful for another BFF that when life around us was going sour and the easy way out would’ve been to say “see-ya’ later,” she said NO! – that our friendship was worth fighting for and that we would work through the awkwardness. (And we have.) Those three friends know me, the real me, ALL of me and love me anyways – and I them… yes friends, that is worth the risk. I am truly blessed. On top of that, I have other BFFs in my life – I’ve heard it said that each friend in your life fulfills a different role and sometimes one person fills many – including someone you can laugh with, someone you can cry with, someone you can be serious with, someone you can encourage – someone that will encourage you, someone you can just hang out with and on and on. Thank you, Jesus, for the people you have placed in my life.
Yes, I still hurt because of the broken relationship I mentioned above. But I have a choice. I can sit on that hurt and let it fester into fear – fear of getting hurt again – which would possibly and probably cause me to miss out on something/someone that will, in fact, be a blessing in my life. Or, I can trust God, believing that He has created me for relationship with Him and others – and walk the path towards a new relationship and the joys that relationship can bring. If you have been hurt in the past – sliced to the core by a relationship(s) – DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE that you shouldn’t pursue other relationships that God places in your path. God may be bringing someone to your life for a reason – don’t always be looking for the battle – look also for the blessing.