(With apologies to Princess Ana and Prince Hans, and also to your brain, which now has probably been infested with an earworm)
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life who have come and gone through the years. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about the ones who have gone.
Some have gone because they grew into people who have little in common with me.
Some decided my presence in their lives was only “for a season.” I may or may not have agreed.
Some were hypercritical/nasty/abusive/negative, and I decided they needed to go.
Some blamed me for things I didn’t do, or they didn’t forgive me for things I did.
Some just faded away. One minute they were there, and then all of a sudden it was 3 years since we last spoke.
Some passed away or moved away. Either way, we lost contact.
Some should have never come in to begin with.
There are a LOT of emotions that can accompany the dissolution of a relationship, and most of them are negative. Fear, anger, blame, bitterness, depression, guilt, sorrow…all of these come rushing in to fill the spot where the person once was. You might find yourself reciting a litany of things you could have done differently. Or maybe you scream and scream and scream at the other person, even if it’s only in your mind. Or maybe you find yourself defaming him or her to others, or even becoming suicidal.
Here’s the deal: People are complex, unpredictable beings. We can never truly know with 100% certainty why they do what they do. We might understand bits of it…or we might be way off the mark and make judgements based on our own filters. And these judgements we make don’t exclude us. For example, your best friend might freak out on you one day and yell at you for an hour about how you always try to make her be someone she’s not. Maybe this is true, and you do that. Or maybe something about your personality triggers a deeply-buried hurt she carries from someone who really didn’t accept her as she was. But in the face of that onslaught, you start thinking she’s crazy, and then you start second-guessing yourself and thinking maybe you’re doing this stuff without realizing it and all of a sudden, ohmygosh, you’re such a horrible friend who doesn’t deserve to have a BFF. BOOM, just like that, 2 hurting people, because you owned the accusation.
So how the heck am I supposed to navigate these murky waters of relationship, then?
Here’s the answer: Love. Love that holds on loosely, allows people to be people, and continues to love, even when they leave.
Absolutely impossible in our own strength. Truly, and yet we are told in the Bible to do exactly this because it’s good for them AND good for us. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9, NIV).
I think a part of that blessing we inherit is not having to walk around damaged by negative emotions that take root. If people want to go, let them go. Realize that you don’t understand everything, but the Lord does, and He still loves your ex-best-friend. Be like Him – it has nothing to do with how you feel. Give those hurt feelings to Him (and don’t take them back!!), and then continue to love your friend by blessing her in her coming and going. Deuteronomy 28:6 says, “A blessing on you when you go out, and a blessing on you when you come in” (Complete Jewish Bible). And yes, I realize that contextually, this verse is smack in the middle of an explanation of what happens when you are obedient to God. I’m not trying to twist Scripture for my own purposes. I just think it’s a great sentiment and an example of how we can treat the people who come in and out of our lives. And anyway, doesn’t it make sense that if they are coming in and out of our lives, we’re also going in and out of theirs? So if we are obedient, we receive the blessings coming and going. And obedience to God’s word includes blessing those that curse you (Luke 6:28, Romans 12:14, Matthew 5:44).
So let the door revolve. Thank the Lord for the good things the person brought into your life; where applicable, forgive the not-so-good, and send them on their way with a blessing. And also? Don’t marry a guy who proposes 10 minutes after you meet (looking at you, Princess Ana)!