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The older I get, the less I worry about relationships.

Photo: "Monarch" by Lisa Richelle Fine Photography (2014).
Photo: “Monarch” by Lisa Richelle Fine Photography (2014).

The older I get, the less I worry about relationships. Not because relationships matter less to me as I age, but because I’ve come to realize the relationships that matter most are the relationships in which the other party also values a relationship with me. People who want to be in relationship with you, make sure there is no cause to worry about the relationship. As I’ve come to this realization, I’ve also noticed that I don’t have to weed people out of my life. People remove themselves simply by their lack of care and attention to the relationship. They fade away.

The relationships that matter most to me now are those where my appreciation is reciprocated. Where my admiration, care, concern, and respect are shared. Where there’s a mutual desire to pursue, maintain and grow in relationship with one another. This includes relationships in every area of my life: personal, family, friend, social, work, etc.

Looking back on my life, I see a long trail of one-sided relationships that I was truly dedicated to. But I was also uncertain, agonized, tormented, dissatisfied, and insecure in some way. When I chose to step away from the people who only wanted to take what I had to offer without sharing any of themselves with me, I was able to let go of the negative feelings they instilled in me. I am over being the only vested person in one-sided relationships. I’m done making myself available for people who don’t want to be available for me. I’m no longer seeking out people who persist on hiding and playing in the dark.

By God’s Grace and Light, I am being rebuilt in strength, fullness and beauty. I’m a Child of the Light and I intend to live like it.

As I have matured, I have become more confident with all I have to offer as a human being, as a woman, as a friend, as a worker – and God willing, as a wife, lover and mother. I have grown confident in the fact that I am not missing out on anything at this point in my life. All who are meant to share this time and space with me are doing so. I am blessed and highly favored and I know the blessings and favor upon my life flow from me to those connected to my life. There’s no need for me to chase anybody or anything. God is my supplier. His Light in me attracts what is meant for me and repels that which is not.

I thank God for the harsh scrubs that cleanses another layer of the world from me with each washing.

You want me to be completely truthful,
    so teach me wisdom.
Take away my sin, and I will be clean.
    Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
    let the bones you crushed be happy again.
Turn your face from my sins
    and wipe out all my guilt.

Create in me a pure heart, God,
    and make my spirit right again.
Do not send me away from you
    or take your Holy Spirit away from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation.
    Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach your ways to those who do wrong,
    and sinners will turn back to you.  ~ Psalms 51:6-13, NCV

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It is finished.

Earlier this year, “it is finished” looped on replay in my mind in the context of the dead relationships in my life. For the last several years, I had been trying to maintain, revitalize, pump up and get things started in various relationships. It took me a while to realize that God was separating me from, not only the unbelievers in my life, but also from the relationships that weren’t bearing good fruit. Once that realization came, it was easy to let go of people who didn’t want to be held.

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:19-20)

Late last spring, I had a dream that should have been disturbing (taken at face value) but was more of a relief.

I don’t recall the sequence but there was a scene where all types of bugs were seen crawling around a sleeping body when a light was flipped on. There was a scene of a big, dark, empty room penetrated by several beams of light coming through a torn and drooping curtain. Then the most potentially disturbing scene was that of a decomposing body lying in the corner with the head stuck to a mop. Sounds gritty and nasty, I know. You’re probably wondering where the relief came in. After each scene the room was flooded by a bucket of hot, soapy water. The bugs were washed away, the curtain was fixed and pushed back to let more light in and the decomposing body was removed and the area it infected was cleansed. The scenes went on in a rotation with each one slightly different than before. The little bugs were washed away, but later one huge, animal size flying bug unfolded on a counter top. The decomposing body was removed with the mop, but then the mop was needed to clean the floor, so the body had to be approached and disconnected from the mop in order to better clean the floor. Again, each scene ended with a full cleaning of the room and exposure to additional light.

I awoke feeling as if some work had been completed.

Whatever I had been doing that was not bearing fruit, I felt free to withdraw from. Whatever was weighing me down and blocking my light was being removed from my life. My Father was cleansing me. He was washing away all the darkness and ushering me further into His Light.

God requires obedience, faithfulness, respect, loyalty and a continued hope in Him. In return we receive His love, mercy, grace and salvation – actually that’s all on offer before we are placed in the womb. But we have to accept it all in order to benefit from it all. Our obedience is proof of our love of Him – keeping his law, adhering to his commands. Though His nature is love and he gives love unconditionally, we have the option to reject His love. Astounding, really – rejecting love; turning your back and walking away from it. But we have the choice to do that; the “freedom” to do as we please. However, the consequence of our choosing against God, love and life is that He then chooses not to fellowship with us. Our choices either unite us to God or separate us from Him.  He tells us to make ourselves holy for Him because He is holy. He wants fellowship, but there are requirements we have to meet.  

For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

Follow me here: If we model our relationships after the prototype God has given us for our relationship with Him, there are basic things that both parties have to contribute to any relationship (be it friend, family, spouse, employment, etc) for it to be successful. There needs to be an obedience/adherence to and respect for the foundation and expectation laid for the relationship (i.e. boundaries), there needs to be loyalty, faithfulness and a hope for continued growth and improvement. There needs to be a consciousness of and an effort to meet the requirements of the other party in the relationship. When both parties are giving and doing all that (and more according to each individual needs), each will bask in the others’ grace, mercy and covering.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)    

However, when love, loyalty, faithfulness, and respect are lacking from either party (to the other), the relationship becomes stagnant, it becomes a dead weight – a decomposing corpse. Relationships aren’t intended to be one-sided. Yes, God loves you unconditionally, but even He has requirements of you in order for you to reap the benefits of His love.

For those of you not doing your portion of the work in your relationships, wake up before you’re washed away. And for those of you toiling alone, think about breaking ground elsewhere. When the other party in the relationship you’re toiling in doesn’t accept or receive you, and you’ve done everything you know to do, let go and move on. That has been a hard lesson to learn, but I finally got it: Not every situation I contribute to will grow the expected or hoped for fruit. And sometimes the fruit grown from a seed I plant may not be for me to harvest. It may not even be for me to water it. It may just be for me to sow the seed and move on. We will reap what we sow, but there’s no promise to reap where we sow.


Meditation verse: Hebrews 10:19-22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.