We are standing on the sharply tilted deck of the Titanic while musicians play through frozen fingers and pluck away at icy strings in ankle-deep water.
No hope. Very few survivors. All hands went down with the ship.
Or something like that.
Although, full disclosure, we know the band probably didn’t play and engineers had been ordered out of the boiler room and might have survived.
You get my drift….
The relationship is finally over, twitching and flinching, the avoided calls or unanswered texts have ceased only to be replaced by thundering silence. An underlying issue left unseen in the distance, or ignored in a fit of Pollyanna denial, has destroyed a once promising companionship.
You are sitting on your couch, or at Starbucks, or walking down a lonely dirt path, and pondering, “How did we get here?”
If you are like me, you will rate and analyze every action or reaction that lead up to the unfortunate series of events and ask this question a thousand times: “What could I have done differently?”
Or, more honestly,
“Whose fault is this, anyway?”
But, I wonder, what if things end with us NOT blaming ourselves? Maybe it pans like this?
We experience a dawning revelation about the importance of this flesh and blood person across the table. They are just a person we have put up on a pedestal and their opinion matters too much. We have allowed ourselves to fall into unhealthy patterns of co-dependence, nurtured the ugliness of a messiah-complex, or, because it’s easier to keep a destructive relationship than to build a healthy one, have stayed within pain without purpose through just plain laziness. None of these are uncommon struggles, friend. Welcome to humanity, y’all.
Perhaps the constant chaos of someone addicted to drama, constantly screaming issues in your face, is no more than a carefully constructed manipulation meant to keep you too busy to form a reasonable response and leaves you in a survival mode that insures you will never leave. Isolated within the prison of an emotionally dominating relationship, required to give all social, emotional, and relational needs for this other person we are stretched too thin, strung to high.
When you finally wake up to the ugly truth that anyone who refuses to recognize your carefully worded and clearly communicated limits or boundaries, who refuses to respect you is NOT your friend. Then the conversations get tense.
At this point? I shut down and shut folks out.
But maybe, here at the edge of the cliff, desperately still holding out a hand, hoping for a glimmer of compassion from the people you had invested so much into, you try to prove they are able to show some empathy or kindness for anyone but themselves. When it becomes clear they aren’t capable of what you hope for? Any pipe dream you may have held onto of preserving something of all the time, effort, love, and energy you have invested will simply dissipate.
To make matters worse?
What if they blame you for the self-inflicted pain, frustration, and unresolved angst. There we are wallowing around like we are in some weird game of blind man’s bluff.
Maybe, finally, wrestling with God and trying to find joy again, you catch a glimpse of the faint fingerprints of Salvation carefully pressed into your own life. It reminds you of a sweet, kind, and gracious God. Inexplicably, dreams may begin to stir within you and the unavoidable truth, even if it is a cliche, “let go and let God”, gives you strength to walk away.
Behind you, angry screams get louder and louder…
Hey, navigating life with people in it is a full-time sport for some. For others it’s the difference between survival and mere existence.
In my book, and maybe I am too linear, I would say there is no “unforgivable sin” in friendship, except one, the unrepentant defense of destructive behavior.
With or without words.
We all screw up, saying and doing stupid things. For whatever reason, there have been times that insulting, offending, or hurting someone we care about has seemed justifiable.
Yet, instead of apologizing, acknowledging idiot choices, what if I deny it happened, pretend it’s all in your head, or throw blame at you for what I chose to do? What if there is always an excuse or someone else to blame for every bad decision or failure?
Just like that, friendship can dissolve like a spider web in a grease fire.
“Surely, you must ‘forgive and forget.’”, whispers the guilty voice inside. Every relationship seminar or book we’ve read reverberates with “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
We know how second-guessing chips away at our confidence and solid determination can waver when incessant criticism of the unrepentant for the newness of our stance and personal conviction eats like acid into any hope for reconciliation, right?
I want to jump in the ring with this issue and fight it. Perhaps not Greco-Roman style, but in a less naked, more intellectually impressive type of wrestling.
Truth and freedom are worth fighting for and those ugly, quickly built, easily broken lies can’t handle the pressure.
Stay tuned tomorrow when I start three-part series titled:
“The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness”
I don’t know everything about being a good person, friend, wife, parent, or follower of Christ. But what I am learning is that sometimes…
Sometimes, leaving a relationship looks more like Jesus than staying ever could.
Read the whole series here: