Sunday, October 19, 2014

When Relationships End

           Recently I was a bit discouraged over someone that just sort of walked out of my life without notice. I found myself going over and over in my head if I had said or done anything that could have been misconstrued. Going in circles in your mind always ends up back in the same place. Unanswered questions.

            I realized though, on a late night dog walk, (that’s when I do most of my heart-to-heart conversations with God and prayer time), that I, too, have been guilty of walking out on some relationships at times, and no doubt have left others with the same unanswered questions. Conviction set in and suddenly my understanding took on a whole new level that resulted in grace rather than feeling hurt. The Holy Spirit is great at bringing us to a level of compassion we didn’t have before.

            As I reflected upon past events of my life, I understood my own reasons for backing up on some relationships and making that quiet departure. Sometimes, because I no longer felt the relationship was mutually beneficial; at other times simply because we were not going in the same direction spiritually, but most often simply because I didn’t really know the best way to handle the communication end of things. There are some things best left unsaid at times because it carries the potential to do more harm than good. The quiet departure is the only way to give God time to work in both sides of relationships, but even when people think they are being careful not to bring discouragement, the lack of answers that they fail to provide to others, and the fact that someone has walked away from the relationship does bring discouragement anyway. In those cases, all we can do is give people space and time to work through whatever is causing them to feel that they need to withdraw, and at the same time, also ask the Lord if there is something He wants us to understand.

            There are the obvious reasons for doors closing in relationships. People move, or they grow apart, or perhaps there is serious issue that causes the relationship to break apart, for example. We need to accept the fact that some relationships run their course and just run out of steam to carry them further. Many relationships end due to offense. But I’m not here to state the obvious. Some of the less obvious reasons are worth reflection. Sometimes people are in your life for a specific reason, and a specific season. You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s true. Perhaps they were a lesson, a message or a messenger.

            The lesson: God uses people to show us something about ourselves, or perhaps we are there to show them something about themselves that He is working on in their life. Perhaps they are there as sandpaper to smooth out some rough edges in our lives. The friction we encounter in relational problems is there to teach us to have Christlike responses when our flesh doesn't want to! There are times when we may hear a person talking and know exactly how they are feeling when they are expressing themselves because we have gone through something similar. That's when we can help one another through an issue with Biblical counsel and our own testimonies, but don't just sympathize. Sympathy gives people encouragement to get wrapped up in self-pity and rehearsing their pain and problems. Also, I've noticed that when you have more than a few things in common with someone else, you might want to question whether or not that person is there to teach you something about yourself. When we are not listening to God or somehow cannot seem to grasp what He wants us to understand, we should examine our relationships for often there is a powerful spiritual reality in someone’s life that serves as a mirror into our own life.

            Years ago I became friends with a woman and we simply hit it off right from the start. We had so much in common we could have been sisters. We quickly became very close. Oddly enough, our lives began to mirror one another’s in some very strange ‘coincidences.’ Nothing is coincidental, of course. The reality is, we had the same demonic spirits working in both our lives. I couldn’t see my own faults because they were my blindspots, so God sent me someone that was literally living some of the same realities in order to show me things I couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize any other way. I didn’t like everything I saw, but the light came on and I knew, this woman wasn’t a healthy person to have in my life. Actually, none of the common friends we shared were healthy, and when I lost her, I lost several other friends at the same time. I did what I could to apologize for areas of wrong on my part, and I know she thought the relationship was mended and we could be friends again. I’m sure it probably hurt and confused her when I no longer picked up the phone or returned her calls. It was a lonely time in my life, but the reality is, the demons in her life and the demons in mine were keeping me stuck and unhealthy, and she just wasn’t at a place to understand without the truth causing an even greater offense. Was I sad? Yes. I felt like I lost a sister. But had that relationship remained, I would have continued to allow those demonic spirits to be active in my life rather than realizing that relationship was there to serve as a mirror so that I could recognize truth about my own life. I needed deliverance and I needed to spend more time with the Lord to heal and get free. I simply couldn’t allow that relationship to hinder me further.

            There have been other relationships, too, that I’ve had to let go of over the years. Some people are not willing or ready to change and grow with God, and I value my future, my family and my calling greater than I value a person that isn’t willing to grow with God. There is a deeper reality for all of us in that we should never allow ourselves to be unequally yoked with those that don’t have the same spirit. Relationships are not just friendships; they act as a compass. Show me your relationships and I can tell which direction you’re going. Or not.

            The message: There are times when others are introduced into our lives because they are there to deliver a message that we need to hear. God brings us those people because of His love for us. It is His desire to help us learn and correct something that He sees has the potential to do great harm to our future. We don’t always understand that people have been sent by God to give us a message. A long term friendship may not be God’s purpose for some relationships, and that’s ok. I think we need to accept that and not hold it against someone else if that was God’s assignment for them. Though it can be disappointing to lose people out of our life, and though we don’t usually understand until later that that seemed to be the important aspect of that relationship, learn not to hold the departure against someone else.

            The messenger: We are there to be the messenger and deliver a message that God wants someone else to hear. We may be sent to release a word of knowledge or a prophetic word, or simply to pray for that person. My husband and I find that is how God seems to work in us. It might be with an individual or even a church. Prophetic people are often just God’s messengers sent on an errand with an assignment. Sometimes the messenger doesn’t even realize he is being used that way, until suddenly, they know very clearly that their time in a certain place or with a certain person is over. It doesn’t mean the relationship has to end completely, but it is not as close as previously. The mission has been completed and the message delivered. Then it’s time to go. It often occurs quite abruptly but we are getting used to Him using us this way. God does not always want the messengers in the way. Elijah was one such messenger that delivered a message and was told to get away to a safe place away from the king whom he made angry once the word was delivered. Messengers also come with words intended to bring correction of something that is causing a person pain, heartache or something that will continue to trip them up if they don’t adjust their behavior. Sometimes a person is not ready to receive that word, or perhaps they are convicted and embarrassed and end up putting distance between themselves and the messenger because they do not know how to handle their emotions. How others respond to God’s messenger determines whether or not they will reap the reward or blessing He has in mind for them, or continue on in their behavior and reap a different kind of response from God. If a person is not open to receiving the words of the messenger, or has received the message but is not open to change, then God will tell the messenger to step back or remove themselves while He continues to work in the situation.  I am going to throw in one other factor to consider as well. Toxic relationships. Those are faith strippers and dream killers. You must know how to pull the plug on those, and if you can't, often times God will. Sometimes God needs to shut the door to relationships, especially if they may be hazardous to our spiritual and emotional health.

            There are times when relationships end due to no fault of our own. It's just that people complete whatever they need to do for that particular season with the relationships God gave them for that season. When that season is over, it's time to go because God needs them somewhere else. These are all cycles that everyone goes through, and we must learn to have mature responses that love people and at the same time, release them to God. We don't own them, after all. God has lessons, assignments, messages to deliver and messengers to deliver them, and He moves us all around like pieces on a chess board as needed.

         Sometimes we will never understand what we might have been spared from had particular people stayed in our life. God’s protection works in a variety of ways and closing doors is one of them. The closed door can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Even though we may feel disappointed, let’s resist the urge to feel offended. We never know what someone else is going through. Perhaps they are feeling convicted of something going on in their own life and they don’t feel comfortable disclosing it. Perhaps they just need space while God is at work preparing their heart and life for change. There have been times when we have needed space, too. Sometimes we may never know why another person is just suddenly unavailable, or unwilling to open up to us like they used to, or just plain absent from our life altogether. Just because we are the one feeling rejected doesn’t necessarily mean that we are the one at fault. What it does mean is that one or both of the parties in that relationship are in need of transformation and healing, so extend grace. Revelation precedes transformation. God’s processes take time, and can only move as fast as people allow themselves to be ready for change. You never know when that door might swing open again. The same God that closes doors is the same God that opens them, too. 

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