Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are You Pulling Away from Others?

When I go to the grocery store and run into a friend, I'm always excited and we usually stop and catch up quickly, but we both have lists to shop for, dinner to cook and errands to run so the time we spend catching up leaves much to be desired, though it is nice because it keeps us up on each others lives.  I call those the "grocery store encounters".

Then there are the "coffee shop encounters" I get to have with friends.  Those are the ones that can last up to three hours (sometimes more if time allows!) where we get a lot deeper in conversation, we talk  about things that are on our heart and really get to know what's going on in each others lives.  I've had far too few of these encounters lately, and I will explain why.

Lately, I must confess, most of my encounters with friends have been "super market encounters". I have had a tough year, where I have inadvertently hurt some people in my life due to some important choices I made for me and my family. We left a wonderful church and I left a great job - leaving people in the wake of my decision wondering why. Some took it personally. Some assumed there were big problems and that's why we, as a family, made the decisions. But in all honesty, we were just following God's leading. No big gossip or story. No problems with anyone. No anger. No regrets. But I have carried around guilt in spite of that! It's like I've picked up a burden that Jesus never wanted me to carry. As a result of me unintentionally hurting people, I have pulled away from many people in my life out of fear of hurting them and I've refrained from forming new, deeper relationships.

I've heard of people pulling away because they didn't want to get hurt. That's not my case. I, of all people, know that hurt is inevitable as we put expectations on people that are unspoken but assumed and they can never live up to them. I would venture to say that the majority of the time you are hurt by someone, the person did not set out to hurt you, but they probably just didn't live up to an unspoken expectation you put on them. I know this, because I've done the same thing with others and have been hurt, too. But I'm learning that is not Biblical. We can never assume we know a person's motive. We can never know their heart. Only God can.

In the process of trying to "spare" others from being hurt by me (I'm such a, I've realized it can be pretty lonely when you don't have community. God never intended us to walk out this life alone. 

How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1) God loves when we are unified and in healthy relationships with each other. As a matter of fact, that is one of the prayers Jesus made right before He went to the Cross: "I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21)

Relationships are that important. Jesus clearly communicated that our unity will show the world that He is sent from God. No wonder Satan is after our relationships! No wonder there are so many divisions in the churches and in Christian communities! We are allowing our pride and fear to determine our relationships and many are destroyed as a result. My fear has kept me from opening up, from reaching out and from developing intimacy with others. I have to trust that God will protect their hearts from me "hurting" them and I have to believe that He will give me wisdom as I seek out strong, godly, loving people with whom I can have healthy connections. 

It's like God shined a big Light on my fear and showed me what was holding me back. And now, I'm just opening up and being honest about my struggle because in 1 John 1:7, we are told, "When we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all of our sin." Walking in the Light means I am no longer going to hide my struggle, but I'm going to put it out there, confess it and deal with it. Notice - only if we walk in the Light can we have fellowship! When Christians get together in community, we call it "fellowship". Such a churchy word, but honestly, a beautiful one. 

My husband gave me great advice as I was feeling overwhelmed by all of this the other day. He said, "Leslie, there are people in your life already. Pray and ask God who He wants you to spend some more time with. Then, be intentional with them. Spend time with them. And don't worry about going out and connecting with a ton of other people yet. Just nurture a couple of relationships at a time and let God help you heal. He will then bring people into your life with whom He wants you to connect." Such great advice. I have already had a coffee shop encounter with one of those friends and plan on connecting with the other soon. I can do this! :)

I'm curious - how are the relationships in your life?

Are they more like "grocery store encounters" or "coffee shop encounters"?

What is holding you back from being open, honest and real in your relationships with others?

What step can you take this week to connect with someone?

I want to encourage you to take a step today and begin to heal. Our unity matters to God! And you were not meant to walk out this life alone.


Rick Barry said...

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head here: "We can never assume we know a person's motive. We can never know their heart. Only God can."

It's astonishing how many people see outward behavior and jump to the conclusion they know what's in another person's heart. It can be downright ridiculous. (Silly example I heard: "That truck driver glanced down here because he hoped there would be a pretty girl in our car." Yow, what a case of judging.) Sadly, assumptions happen among friends, too.

Sorry you've hit a few speed bumps, but also sounds like your husband has given great advice and you're recovering well.


Leslie Nease said...

Thanks Rick! Yes, I'm known for judging a motive or two, as well. We are all works in progress!! Lol

Got Questions?