I’ll be the first to admit it…I struggle with relationships. The kind of relationship doesn’t really matter – family, friendships, romances and more continue to confound and challenge me on a regular basis. Relationships take work! You can’t be on autopilot and do relationships well. Instead, we have to be able to adapt to the needs of the day, person, and place because what was required yesterday might be different than what is required today. Relationships have BIG demands, like presence, vulnerability, boundaries, compassion, self-control, and a certain level of inter-dependency. And that’s a tall order.
What I struggle with most in my closest relationships is that “certain level of inter-dependency.” We’re all imperfect. It’s something that we all learn through experience and, eventually, learn to live with. But, because we’re all so imperfect, we’re constantly bumping up against one another, causing bruises and breaks that sometimes take a lifetime to heal. And what’s worse is that none of it happens in a vacuum. Life goes on and we get the hang of walking with a limp.
The sheer pain of my bruises and breaks had me believing that independence was safer. Self-reliance in everything was necessary, because the less I had to rely on someone else, the less opportunity they had to hurt me. I clung to that belief like my life depended upon it. But it’s not a perfect system. The walls that I built came down to be dependable for others, but not much else. So, when I struggled, I did so alone and in silence. It’s only in retrospect that I realized that was a dangerous place to be, especially if you have depression.
What’s interesting to me about those nightly walks home is that despite declaring my independence in every other area of my life, when it came to this one thing, I readily relinquished it over and over again. At the time, that fact didn’t register at all. I had no idea that I was laying myself bare before God. In fact, if you would’ve asked me about it, I would’ve thought you were a little “touched in the head” or, at the very least, a little too hard core for my taste.
But in those moments, I was saying much more than I realized. By simply saying, ‘God please protect me,’ I was admitting that I was afraid. I was admitting that I didn’t have enough power to protect myself. I was saying ‘God, you’re bigger and badder than anyone out here, please keep me safe.’ I didn’t wait for evidence that I had been heard, I had to move forward. So, my fragile hope in God’s willingness to help carried me home.
It would be years before I would learn that this dependency was crucial to faith, crucial especially to a relationship with God. Then though, it was just a small thing; one tiny area of life. But over time, it became a reason to believe that God saw me and was interested in what concerned me. It became what I could point to that would give me the courage to approach God again, and again, and again and have the assurance that I would be received. That small request opened the door to relationship.
What about you? Is there something you have brought or would bring to God, if you thought it would be received?