My husband and I have only been married for three-and-a-half years, and in that small window of time, we have moved on five stressful, yet adventurous occasions. Buying a house, renting a house, renting an apartment, we’ve done it all. Just this week, we boxed up our belongings and left our Colorado Springs apartment for a different apartment thirty minutes south, getting my husband closer to the Air Force training base where he works.
Not to brag, but he and I are now moving pros. Total aficionados in the art of saving money on bubble wrap and shielding favorite coffee mugs with kitchen dish towels instead. Better yet, we’ve grown in our ability to let go of trinkets and furniture pieces that we no longer need—even if they were wedding gifts or hand-me-downs from cherished family members.
In Christianity, packing up and moving on isn’t quite as simple. You can’t throw relationships into a cardboard box or trash pile. There’s little room to have a simple, “Ehhh, yeah. I don’t need that. Just chunk it” debate. In fact, your relationships with family, friends, church members, etc. are more delicate than all the fine China anyone could give to you.
But unfortunately, some relationships have to sever for the spiritual, mental, and emotional sake of another. So how do we pack up and move on as Christians? When delicate, precious relationships shatter, what do we do with all the pieces?
Let’s take a look at two big relationship tips from Jesus Himself:
1. Truth is not only the relational bond, but it’s the requirement.
In Matthew 10, Jesus has given His disciples the Holy Spirit’s power to perform miracles and cast out demons. As He’s preparing to send them out, He warns them of the trials they’ll face: floggings, imprisonment, persecution—it’ll all happen because truth scares some people. And when certain people are scared to wrestle with truth, they silence it at any cost.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:14 that when the locals of the town won’t welcome or listen to their words, they are to shake the dust off their sandals and move on. Some people won’t turn to full-fledged violence like the Roman leaders and Pharisees, but they will refuse to acknowledge and activate truth. When that happens, it’s not on the disciples to beg, plead, and grovel. Rather, it’s time for them to move on to others who will accept the truth and allow it to transform their lives.
I was friends with a girl for years, all throughout high school, college, and even after college. I was in her wedding. She never forgot that lemon was my favorite flavor of anything. We would drive hours and hours to see each other when we lived cross-state. Eventually, she faced a tough life season and we didn’t agree on how to handle it. It wasn’t a lighthearted, differential preference of green or beige bathroom towels. It was more like a right versus wrong way to handle things. The second I mentioned my concern to one of our dearest mutual friends, the relationship fell apart. It was quick, instantaneous; my soul felt it die.
It’s taken almost four years for me to truly let go of that relationship. I miss my friend, but she and I no longer share similar space. My opinion on her difficult season wasn’t welcome, nor was I listened to.
Bit by bit, I’ve discovered what it means to shake off my sandals and move on. It doesn’t mean I leave the sandals all together. In fact, I’ll need them as a reminder for my next friendship on the rocks. In all honesty, my sandals, my memories of that severed tie, serve as a lesson. A lesson that maybe she wasn’t ready for the hard truth, or maybe I shouldn’t have discussed my concern with our mutual friend. There’s a big chance we both had something to wrestle with and learn.
I’ve shaken off the dust, but I keep the sandals to remind me that truth, even when it’s uncomfortable to bring up with the ones we love, is worth the backlash, and even lessons, we encounter.
2. Turning the other cheek is different than you think.
On the topic of forgiveness, many people like to quote Luke 6 when Jesus says if someone slaps you on the cheek, give them your other cheek. I’ve always had a hard time with the verse, not sure why Jesus would be Team Physical Abuse—but it’s because He’s not.
I’m no biblical scholar, not by any stretch of the name, but I believe that Jesus is pushing the point of continuing to show up for people. For me, this isn’t Jesus saying, “Yes, please return home to your spouse who physically abuses you.” Instead, I deeply believe Christ is saying, “Yeah, humans aren’t perfect. But they’re worth showing up for. Opening up to.”
When we get slapped on the cheek, it’s on us to forgive that person. But it’s also on us to not shut ourselves out from trying again after we’ve moved on. Packing up and moving on doesn’t mean we keep our lives boxed up. It means we rip the tape off, unpack what’s ours, and put it on display, the bad and the ugly, for someone else to come along and walk through life beside us.
I’ll never be able to replace my dear high school friend, but the number of wonderful women who’ve stepped in and filled that gap melts my heart. One of my friends has red hair just as bright as my high school friend’s, while another has her wit.
None of this beauty from ash would be possible, though, if I hadn’t said yes to coffee dates, yes to Hobby Lobby trips, yes to extending the invitation to invite someone along for dinner.
Odds are, I’ll get slapped on the cheek again. Even greater odds are that I’ll slap someone else on the cheek. We’re human. We’re flawed. That’s why God has to bridge our gap with Jesus. But, because Jesus bridges that gap, we are free to leave behind hurt, cross the divide that He closed, and expose ourselves, our other cheek, to give others a chance.
Truth, flawed people, Jesus—they’re all worth it.
Photo Credit: © Pexels/Ketet Subiyanto
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