I have thanked Dear Abby many times for the fodder her column provides me for this blog. I am, once again, ready to deal with an issue that is so often found in the letters she receives.
If you have ever read any of the letters she is sent, I am sure you will notice, just as I have, that there are so many people who write in about their spouse, friend, or significant other and state that they are just so wonderful, so kind, such a good parent, B-U-T….
It’s the “but” that gets me: but…they get really nasty when they drink and they drink every night, or but…they don’t ever take me out, or but….they work all the time and are rarely home, but, but, but…
Some of these issue are relatively minor, just the kind of quirks that get on your nerves now and then and you learn to live with for the sake of the relationship. However, there are those issues that are, or should be, “deal-breakers’ within a relationship, and the writer of the letter doesn’t seem to realize how bad it is.
In my first marriage, in my previous life, I read a book called “The Dance of Anger” by Dr. Harriet Lerner, and this was written mainly for women but my relationship was so bad that I wanted to see what it said. The basic premise is that when two are in a bad relationship, it becomes comfortable. So much so, that when one person starts to work out the problems and make the relationship better, the other party will actually go out of his or her way to start arguments and bring the disharmony back. This is because the bad relationship is more comfortable than the new good one. It was an interesting lesson for life, not just for marriage. And the book rang true: the more I tried to work it out, the more she made things worse. I am sorry, yet relieved, that I had to stop dancing with that partner long ago.
So what does this have to do with God, the bible and salvation? Plenty! We are in multiple relationships while we are alive: we are in a relationship with the world, with our spouse, our friends, our workmates, with God, and with the enemy of God. Yes, we are in a relationship with the enemy, and it should be a very bad relationship, one where we never get along, and the more he tries to win us over to his side, the more we refuse and rebuke him.
The Devil is an adulterer: he wants to come between us and God.
Unlike the writers of these types of Dear Abby letters, where they are covering their eyes with blinders or putting on rose-colored glasses to make their relationship problems seem smaller than they are, we need to see with open eyes and use discernment instead of lying to ourselves. We need to recognize the issues within our relationships and correct them. If someone is sinning against us, we need to work it out, or get away. Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean standing there while someone hits you- it’s a metaphor. DUH! It means don’t return evil for evil- that is the message we see more than once throughout the bible. Turn the other cheek means forgive, accept differences, don’t allow evil but don’t hate the sinner (hate the sin, yes, but not the sinner.) That is turning the other cheek. And if someone actually does hit you, then let it go. If he or she tries to hit you again, avoid it as best as you can by ducking, blocking or running away. Always protect yourself when someone wants to hurt you, and don’t return the violence unless you have no other choice.
I think we all put on “blinders” now and then, especially when it involves someone close to us. They say love is blind, and it often is, but it doesn’t have to be stupid. If you love the Lord, then ask for His sight through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so that you can see clearly. Seeing the truth about someone doesn’t mean that you must leave the relationship if there are problems, it only means that you will be able to better see how to fix it. Hopefully, if your partner tries to “dance” you back into the bad relationship, you can sway this way and that, or change the dance altogether. In some cases, we need to “bite the bullet” and suffer the pain of getting a better partner (I am not condoning divorce- I am talking about any type of relationship between two or more people, not just marriage) and starting over again.
The most important relationship we can have is with God, through Messiah Yeshua and the Holy Spirit. God is eternal, God will always work with you, and God will never let you down. He is forgiving and compassionate, yet fair and just, so when we screw something up He will help get us back on the right path, even if it means a slap to the side of our head! He is always willing to dance with us, and when we let Him lead, we can dance better than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, put together!
When you feel in your spirit that your relationship, whatever type it is, has something amiss, then go to God and ask Him to open your eyes. The best standard you can use to measure the worth of your relationship is the bible- it tells us how we are to treat each other. If your relationship fits (now be firm with yourself when you look at your relationship, and do not put on blinders) the way we are to treat each other according to the bible, even with a glitch here and there, then you are OK. If it doesn’t seem that your partner is doing as he or she should, then consider changing it or leaving it. Yeshua tells us He came to be a wedge between family and friends (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51) and that if we aren’t willing to give up family, friends and everything, we can’t be His disciples (Mark 10:29.) He isn’t telling us to dump everyone we ever knew, but He is saying that following God’s way is going to cause division in our relationships, and to be ready for it. On the other hand, following God’s ways can also make all our relationships better.
No two people will ever get along perfectly, and if anyone ever tells you they never argue or always have peace in their relationship, keep away from them! They ain’t human! Donna and I have fights, we do get angry with each other, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves for no reason whatsoever. The worst time is when we are both in a snit, and thank God that most of the times when one of us is in a snit, the other isn’t, and can ignore the desire of the flesh to get back. The only reason I can brag about our marriage is because God has given us His blessings and helped us with the peace we receive from His Ruach HaKodesh. As Shaul said, I am not bragging on myself, but I am bragging on the Lord and all He has done in our marriage and lives.
So, to finish- if you are having relationship problems, go to God with it. Ask Him to open both sets of eyes to the truth, and to give both hearts a spirit of forgiveness and compassion. Overall, your relationship with God is the most important one in your life, and when you maintain that relationship all your other relationships will be more pleasant and rewarding.