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Archive for November, 2013

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I have seen this going around the internet lately and I find it deeply troubling. I understand that this is supposed to be encouraging for people who find themselves in lost relationships. However, I don’t agree that this is the best thing for those people to hear.

“When people walk away let them”

Here’s the thing about relationships, they change. This is the nature of relationships and of life. I couldn’t name one person in my life with whom my relationship is the same as it was even a year ago including my husband, sisters and parents. There are two things that happen organically in a relationship: It moves towards intimacy or it moves away from intimacy. Most relationships don’t change because someone chooses to walk away. On the surface it may seem like someone is choosing to walk away, but digging deeper you see that isn’t the case. Think about a marriage that has just ended, it didn’t fall apart overnight. It took time and it took inward change on both parties for that marriage to get to where it is. I acknowledge that it seems there are times in which someone chooses to walk away from a relationship, but it took more than what meets the eye to produce that result.

And how easily does one give up on a relationship?

Recently I had the privilege of talking intimately with a friend of mine I have had since high school. About a year ago I started feeling some intense negative emotions regarding our friendship. This is a friend who never failed to inspire me and with whom I could have a deep meaningful conversation and have fun with. But after she took on a full time job and I moved to a different state, the little attempts I made to connect with her were met with empty responses. Finally I reached my breaking point, after multiple attempts at getting a hold of her and not hearing back I came to the conclusion that our friendship was over. I was done. Still, something in me couldn’t let go and I made one last desperate attempt to make things right. We were able to meet in person and talk things over. What I found out was that she was struggling with deep issues and she sincerely felt bad that she was emotionally disconnected. We were honest and raw and forgiving with one another. We made a plan going forward where both our love languages could be met. Since then I have seen a real effort on both parts to honor our relationship.

Not all true friendships look like that either. I can list on one hand people with whom I have true and genuine friendships but talk to maybe once a year.

My point is that any one of us could chalk that up to the other “choosing to walk away”, when it isn’t like that at all. And in the case of my one friend, we had to fight to keep our friendship alive. We had to be real and vulnerable with each other.

Simply put, “letting people walk away” seems awfully cowardly to me.

There are, of course, extenuating circumstances. I am not saying all relationships are or should be redeemable. Getting out of a relationship where you are abused in any way is always better for you and you did not do anything to deserve the abuse. I hardly think that is what this quote is referring to, but If your only source of encouragement is this quote on this snoopy comic then by all means, let it motivate you! But even then eventually, hopefully, you will be in a place of healing and you can use your past to help you move towards your future. which brings me to the second part of the quote:

“Your future is not about people who walk away, its about people who stay in for the ride”

God, I hope you don’t think this way. This is like one of those really bad pinterest motivations to get you to exercise that shows an overly muscular person and says “fit is the new skinny”, and by the way that person also happens to be skinny.

Life isn’t about forgetting what brought you to the place you are at today. Your future IS about how you were once addicted to drugs in the past, were in an abusive relationship, or used food as a way to deal with the pressures of life – because that changed you. Every day someone who struggled in the past makes choices in the present because of it. “Healing doesn’t mean that the damage never existed, it means that it no longer controls our lives.” Our choices in the present are largely affected by our experiences in the past. Our future is determined by the choices we make today.

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 How I wish all relationships were lasting! The truth is, that not every relationship was meant to last forever. We all enter each other’s lives and affect it somehow, whether it be obviously positive or not. Sometimes we meet people who hold such animosity towards us, but teach us great lessons. I have lost count of how many people I have known who have disliked me and vice-versa. These are people who have had strong personalities and made it very clear they didn’t like me. Most of the time it was a co-worker whom I had to see every day. Sometimes these people held authority over me in the workplace. At the time it was a difficult place to be in. Looking back, I can very clearly see the positive that has come from such opposition. If I chose to only consider the people who “stayed in it for the ride” I would be missing out on some great life lessons.

Sometimes we get so caught up in “surviving” that we forget to acknowledge the role we played in the situation. How easy it is for us to agree with “feel-good” quotes. The internet has created a mass audience that will eat anything up if it seems pretty enough or makes you feel good. Anything could be written in curly cursive and placed on a nice picture of a sunrise. Imagine if someone posted this on the internet:

feelgood

We wouldn’t like that, would we? But sometimes that is the truth.

It would be brave to question why a relationship fell apart. It would be brave to acknowledge your role in it. And it would be braver still, to do what you could to mend the broken relationship.

Being brave is hard. Taking the cowardly route is easy. What would you choose.

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tract

Have you ever received one of these? If you have it was most likely done without ever knowing the name of the person giving it away. You might have seen it on top of the toilet paper roll in a public restroom, next to or in place of a tip at a restaurant, lying around on a floor somewhere, or mixed in with that delicious candy from Halloween. Most tracts use fear as a tactic, some of them are clever and none of them are appropriate. They are most likely passed around with good intentions because in the Christian faith we find hope for the hopeless, love for those who have never experienced it before, and sacrifice so strong that it is capable of turning your entire life around.

How many tracts inspired a non-believer? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is the message that is really getting across with a tract. This message is that you aren’t as happy or good enough in your life right now as the person who has a wallet full of these. It is that people who believe in God are tactless and hypocritical. It is that Christianity is full of judgement and punishment. It is that the Christian doesn’t have the time to sit down with you and have a real conversation, nor would you want them to because with the looks of it all they will be thinking about how to better tell you about the “A-B-C’s” of Christianity or how you can “be saved” from hell.

If you have a stack of these somewhere that you are planning on giving out, I’m going to let you in on a secret. These are as effective as a used up piece of gum stuck to the sidewalk, except that the gum actually served a real purpose at one time. You aren’t doing any good by leaving these around for some stranger to find, all you are doing is making yourself feel good.

You are not provoking thought. You are perpetuating the common perception that Christians are a bunch of jerks who don’t really care about anybody but themselves.

True evangelism is genuine. It is an honest and very real relationship with somebody. It lacks judgement and humbly admits our own lacking. It takes time. It takes prayer. It takes Spirit provoked conversations. True evangelism will never really tell you the kind of difference you are making. It is serving and self-denying. It pours every ounce of you into someone else. True evangelism is no secret. Jesus did every one of these things when He was on this earth. The closest thing he did to leaving a tract behind was writing in the sand, and nobody really knows what it was that He wrote.

If you want to make a true difference in this world or get a true positive message across then buy someone a meal, watch their kids for nothing in return, use the gifts you have to give. If you don’t then you may as well go get a stick and start drawing in the dirt because that is much more productive.

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