How should we feel when relationships come to an end?
John VandenOever August 17, 2022
“God … desires for His children to have a proper balanced attitude toward themselves.”
—Charles F. Stanley, “Beginning With a Good Self-Image”
Recently on a crisp morning walk through the woods, I paused to consider a warm beam of light funneling down from the treetops. Thousands of dust particles swirled in the glow, uncountable and elusive. I thought of all the people who’ve floated through my life over the years—how it’s always bothered me that some of my most meaningful and beneficial relationships exist for only a season.
That relationships fade and change is inevitable—people move and leave jobs, or their availability dissipates as they tackle new challenges. But too often I start in on myself, searching for where I may have dropped the ball. Had I been dismissive of their needs? Had I teased them in a way that felt harsh? Did I fail to encourage and value a friend?
Funny how it’s always self-recrimination that crops up. It seems I want to believe I’ve done something unforgivable rather than accept that there are seasons for both circumstances and certain people—when in truth, the warmth I feel for them is likely the same warmth they continue to feel for me.
I need to embrace the relationship formula Jesus modeled on earth. So I’m asking God to help me see the innumerable benefits of all the people I’ve known—and to let the gift of their time and encouragement rest with me.
I need to embrace the relationship formula Jesus modeled on earth. He cared for hundreds, though He had only a dozen close friends and three intimates. So I’m asking God to help me see the innumerable benefits of all the people I’ve known—and to let the gift of their time and encouragement rest with me. Plus something else: to help me remember to pray for those who come to mind and be satisfied that sending them a thoughtful message is enough.
Reflecting on those relationships makes me realize how important it is to pour myself into the people who are now close at hand. As Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” I believe that means showing honor and kindness to the people God has brought into my life. Then, even if our closeness eventually fades, I trust I’ll be able to one day appreciate the warm glow of memories we’ve made together—for how we loved and served one another. For how we spurred each other on toward Christ.