It is not breaking news that we, as humans, are relationship challenged. We have few, walking, breathing, models of a “good marriage” that we can observe either personally, in our family circles, in our communities, nationally or worldwide. Lots of factors play into the death of a relationship. I want to address those benign breakups that blame factors like “irreconcilable differences” as the cause. Those breakups where both parties hold equal share in the unaddressed problems and agree that it is more effort to stay together than it is to (attempt) to sever all connections.
In these breakups selfishness is the cause, short-sightedness is the motivator and lack of communication is the driving force. In 1977 Robert J. Ringer published his book “Looking Out for #1”. He created a title that turned into a mantra and was absorbed into our culture thus providing a socially acceptable excuse for seeking our own pleasures at the cost of all others.
We need little reason to be selfish; it is part of our inherent nature. Self-less-ness is what makes a life in Christ so outstanding and yet so difficult to maintain. To be self-less takes conscious thought and effort because it is not our idea, not what we want or what would make us most happy or our point of view. Being self-less is being obedient to the commands of; love one another, do to others as you would have them do to you, love your neighbor as yourself. Being self-less is putting others first, it is looking out for numbers 2,3,4…; it is a joy you realize only when you are.
In our selfish desires we become short-sighted. We want what will make us feel good ASAP giving no thought to what the consequences may be in the long run. Not thinking that supporting two households is more expensive than keeping one together. Not seeing beyond “I cannot stand this another minute” but a year later you sit alone yet another night. Someone young makes you feel young but six months later you realize you have so little in common. Our pain, our frustration, our fears are so large, so immediate that only instant action will salve, solve, or soothe us. We’ll deal with the fallout later no matter the cost.
Short-sightedness leads us to stop talking. If we don’t communicate we can’t argue, disagree or hurt. Once you shut your mouth to suffer in silence you begin construction on the wall that will separate you from them, the pain, the situation and the solution. Healthy arguments resolved are substantially better than icy silence. If concerns are not given a voice there can be no understanding only conjecture and speculation. NO ONE is a mind reader and expecting them to be is your fault alone.
The cure for a hurt, damaged, broken relationship is forgiveness. To forgive is to grant pardon; absolve; to cease to feel resentment against. Forgiveness is something we want desperately to be given but give so reluctantly or not at all. To forgive goes hand in hand with self-less-ness. As Christians we are called to forgive simply because we have been forgiven: Col. 3:13, Luke 6:37, Matt 6:14-15. Forgiveness will heal those you give it to and most importantly it will heal you. It takes practice, and many times, great effort to forgive but it is a skill that should be honed at all costs because if you do not it will cost you.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.