Saturday, July 29, 2006

Relationships 4: They go together like syrup and carbonated water...

I had lunch with a friend today, and it was both unexpected and a blessing. When I say lunch, I mean lunch in the truest, fullest sense: food, followed by and interspersed with over three hours of conversation. In fact, we were at it so long that the water and syrup at the bottom of my first glass of soda separated. It was a feast of dialogue, and very refreshing.

Romans 13:8-10
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
There's something amazing about spending time with friends whose goal in the relationship is not the fulfillment of their own needs. There's something equally confounding about relationships with people whose only true focus is themselves. I am guilty of the latter far more often than not, and I receive the former far more often than I deserve.

That is something I have been struggling with in the past week. There is a person in my life whom I struggle (and fail) to love the way I should, the way God commands us to. The reasons are almost humorously trivial, but anger, hurt, selfishness and years of habit have a way of overcoming those kinds of limitations.

Having been almost completely out of contact with this person for a couple of years, I had convinced myself that I was no longer angry, that though the relationship had ended, I was able to love them rightly should they ever come back into my life...but love in absentia is no love at all. The fact is, the kind of relationship I have with this person is not the kind that can ever be severed, nor am I probably ever going to be unaffected by their actions. That is the realization I came to this week, and it helped me to sort out some of my confusion (though not all): with every new thing I hear about this person, I feel betrayed. I continue to be suprised and confused by the direction this person's life is going, as they become less and less the person I always thought they were, and more and more like the person I am when I am not submitting to God's will.

I am in a somewhat unique position right now. I have an open, though veiled, window into this person's life, and the reverse is not true. The question I am struggling with is, "what does God want me to do?" If I continue on as I am, then this person will probably remain on the outskirts of my life, affecting me only indirectly through the people in my life who still remain in contact with them for whatever reasons. But I am not convinced that "avoidance" is what God would prescribe.

On the other hand, what exactly would I do if I did approach them, and what would be accomplished if I did? (You hear that? I, I, I...that's at least half of my problem.) I have all sorts of reasons not to, but they all boil down to pride, selfishness, anger and fear. This is not a person whom I want having any sort of influence over my life; on the other hand, my life does not belong to this person, it belongs to God. I don't want to associate with this person because they have an uncanny power to hurt me; on the other hand, the Pharisees didn't want to associate with tax collectors and prostitutes...but they should have. In some ways, approaching this person is like placing myself in the line of fire, but isn't that what Jesus did for me?

So that's what I'm struggling with right now....

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Anonymous Trey said...

Yeah, I really miss having 3 hour lunches with friends...

It sounds sorta like your wondering how involved you should be in "that person"'s life. I suppose you should follow Jesus's example. He offered to be a part of everyone's life. The Pharisees rejected Him and the tax collector's did not. He didn't force His presence on those who didn't want Him. Maybe you should see if this person wants you in his life and work from there.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 3:06:00 PM  

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