Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
Lamentations 1:2 (NIV)
It’s funny how people can love you one minute and in the next, act like you don’t exist. I’ve run into this more than I care to admit and it has given me a rather bleak outlook on friendships, relationships, and on my role in getting the word out about what Jesus was trying to teach. While I would love to greet everyone I meet with a smile, somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking ahead to the day when that person will eventually either stab me in the back or somehow prove to me that the time I spent with them could have been better spent. Yes, these thoughts still plague me even this far into my walk and yes, I do ask God to help me improve my outlook on a daily basis. But in this area of brokenness where much damage has been done, there is still much repair to be done.
For people who tend to go “all in” with their interactions, the emotional and psychological wounds perpetrated by others run deep. They may not even realize that they have hurt you, but while they’re getting on with their lives you’re sitting there wondering why they don’t care as much as you do. Is it realistic to believe that when we show love, we will get love in return? Not that I’ve seen, but I’ve heard that it does happen. To clarify, I’m not talking about acquaintances here; I’m talking about those who profess to be our best and dearest friends but who decide at intervals that they can’t be bothered with us. Those who abandon us when something or someone more interesting presents itself. Those who expect us to help them pick up the pieces whenever they break something, but who run for cover should we ever need them to hold a dustpan for us.
Of course, there are some exceptions. I know a handful of people who are truly good-hearted and who have never left me feeling as though they would just as soon slap me as look at me. But only a handful. These are the people who will always be there for you even though you may not have spoken to them for weeks or sometimes months. And when you take the time to check on them, they don’t make you feel stupid for not having been enough of a part of their life to know what had kept them from contacting you first. You know that you can call them and they will be there to help you out when you need them. You’ll never find them hiding under a bush with their tail hanging out playing the old, “I don’t want to see you, so I’ll pretend you won’t see me not seeing you” trick. There are those who are capable of living their lives fully and still making time for everyone that they profess to care about. I’m not sure how they do it, but I can bet that it isn’t be being deceitful and attempting to hide one part of their life from the other. And it isn’t by being fake to everyone they meet because they have no intention of ever having a relationship of any depth with anyone.
It’s so frustrating to have people in our lives who simply don’t understand what it means to care about others. It’s even worse to watch someone living their life as though you don’t matter and never did even though they are still telling you they care. It stinks to be made to feel like an obligation by someone who is supposed to love you. So why don’t we just walk away? When someone makes us feel like they would rather not be bothered, why do we continue to open the door when they come knocking after abandoning us? Grace? Mercy? Faith? Hope? Or is it just stupidity? I’d like to think it’s a little bit of all of these…except for that stupidity part.
The truth is that there are two kinds of people in this world; those who can only love and those who can’t love at all. We have choices in how we handle both types of people. We can either let those who love us, love us or we can push them away. We can let those who can’t love us keep hurting us or we can walk away. Either way, we have to find balance so that in the end, we’ll still be able to love. We cannot let someone’s inability to give or receive love dictate whether or not we are willing to show love to others.
God never said that we should allow someone to abuse us in the name of love. When people are hurting you, keep moving until you find those who are willing to give and receive in a healthy way. Understand that prolonged exposure to the damage that some people do will not make you stronger, it will continue to break you down until you no longer desire any kind of relationship with anyone. It is important that you know when it’s time to say goodbye. Even though you may wish that the person or people who are hurting you would finally figure out how to treat you, the best thing you can do for the destructive people in your life is to walk away and let God handle them. He’s the only one who is equipped to handle their abuse and He’s willing to take that on for you.
“If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
Luke 9:5 (NIV)