Saturday, July 12, 2008

Broken Relationships

I had a friend ask me about a relationship that didn't work out. They wanted to know why and if God was punishing them. Here's the essence of my reply. If you know someone that could benefit from this email it on...

a) The most simple explanation is it's possible God is sparing you from a relationship that is not in your best interest. For that you should be thankful.

b) A more complicated explanation is it's possible that this relationship just didn't "work out" because God allows us all to make choices, have personalities and make decisions that influence how our lives are lived. That's a great freedom and a great responsibility. Sometimes because of those decisions relationships just don't materialize like we had hoped.

c) Whatever the reason the relationship failed, your job now is to not live in the past or to be a victim. Learn and move on. Be stronger for it.

d) Finally I would say that I know for sure God is not punishing you. That's not how He operates. Yes, life is painful sometimes but there is a difference between the pain from a surgery and a pain from a mugging. Both have guys with knives and masks asking your for money.

One is meant for your harm.

The other is meant for your good.

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Shawnmcq said...

I have only seen my father for 9 years of my 45 years of life. I have so often wondered why. I have his phone number, but I am unwilling to restart the relationship again because I don't trust him and feel he will only vanish again. I have tried so many times in the past to reach out, only to have been burned by him. I love him and I do forgive him. It is just too painful to start again. Your words make great sense, I have waited a lifetime to hear them. "It's possible God is sparing you from a relationship that is not in your best interest. For that you should be thankful". Wow! I am speechless. I have finally found meaning to what I have struggled with for so many years. Thanks J...that is a gift. My door is always open to my father, he just has to knock.

Jonathan Foster said...

that's good stuff. thank you. it sounds like you're doing the right things. keep pursuing forgiveness in your heart/mind... of course, forgiveness doesn't always mean relationship.

karmenl said...

It's strange that at the time i would decide to check your blog i would discover relationship posts....something I've commented on before on your blog.

I like your advice about God giving us choices and freedom. Which is certainly a big responsibility when it comes to navigating relationships. I also like the assurance that God does not punish.

The biggest thing I've learned this past year is taking responsibility for myself with in relationships. I was recently reading in my Celtic Daily Prayer book and there was a quote by Bill Hybels (which, btw I found a strange place to find a quote by him, but it was really good). It went something like this....(sorry it's a little long)...

"When people submerge their true feelings in order to preserve harmony, they undermine the integrity of a relationship. They buy peace on the surface, but underneath there are hurt feelings, troubling questions, and hidden hostilities just waiting to erupt. It's a costly price to pay for a cheap peace, and it inevitably leads to inauthentic relationships...No one says anything 'unsafe'. They never discuss misunderstandings, reveal hurt feelings, air frustrations or ask difficult questions...Offenses occur, but nobody talks about them. Doubts about the other's integrity creep in, but they're never dealt with. In time such relationships deteriorate."

We all have to step up.

Jonathan Foster said...

thanks karmen, yeah a hybels quote in a celtic prayer book is funny. good stuff though. i've heard him speak lots of times on saying the last 10%... in other words sometimes we only speak the 90% of truth and withhold that last little 10% which is often the hardest part to say. he often encourages to say the whole 100%. i agree, but also would put equal importance on saying it "in love." that's what Jesus was so good at... saying the truth but in love.

i'm still workin on that...

karmenl said...

i agree...with the 'in love' part. i, too am still working on what that looks like.
thanks for your thoughts.