Yesterday, we talked about struggling in our relationship with God and how grappling through tough issues of faith makes us stronger. Interestingly, the same thing is true in our relationships with each other. I remember years ago, I had a really wonderful neighbor. He was good looking, married, very happy, and just an all-around nice guy. However, one day he came over to my house because he knew I was a pastor, and he was weeping and clearly upset. He went on to share that his wife left him, that she wasn’t coming back, and that he just didn’t understand. They never fought, he said, and everything was going fine until she took off for no apparent reason. While my heart ached in empathy, as I listened to him speak, it became very clear to me that he was only seeing one side of the story. While everything was “rosy” in his world, there were plainly some underlying issues on his wife’s part that didn’t get shared. Maybe she was afraid of “rocking the boat” or perhaps she had tried to talk about her feelings before but been shut down. Whatever the case, seeing his pain and grief was very sad, and it served as a sobering reminder of how important it is to be willing to struggle in relationship in order to maintain health for the long haul. While it’s not pleasant at the time, going deep in the realm of emotion is vital to enjoying the lasting, intimate connection with people that the Lord intended.
My friend, you were designed to struggle in relationship. Being made in the image of God means that you were created to learn more about Him through others, and that requires that you do the hard work of humbling yourself and being vulnerable, even if it causes discomfort. Especially with the ones closest to you — your spouse, your kids, and your best friends — take the time to check in, have tough conversations, and “go deep” in the interest of protecting your shared bond. Don’t ignore warning signs and be willing to deal with your own shortcomings in order to build a solid connection in the long run. Your Savior never gives up on you, so don’t give up on others, especially the ones you care about the most. Embrace conflict for the sake of healing and you will enjoy abundant life as a result!