A dear friend of mine recently lost a once sweet connection with a family member. Since connection is what matters most to her in life, severed connections send her reeling. Struggling with disbelief and rage, she is trying to make sense of it all.
My friend is not alone in her struggle. Broken relationships seem to be humanities’ greatest source of pain. It is all too common, and it is common to us all.
Sometimes we are the ones who sever the connection. Other times it is someone else’s doing. There are even occasions where the ties that bind slowly loosen over time until one day they let go altogether.
In my own life I’ve broken up with boyfriends, divorced spouses, fired lawyers, and walked away from churches and jobs that were no longer right for me. I’ve also been on the other end. I’ve felt the pain when those I loved passed away, and when friends made it clear they were no longer interested in continuing the friendship.
Try as we might, we can’t control the outcome of our relationships. Even if we bring integrity and commitment to them, that doesn’t mean the other person will bring the same thing. Neither is there a guarantee what they bring today, they’ll continue to bring tomorrow.
As painful as severed connections can be, they are unavoidable. They can even be a sign of health. This is particularly true in cases of abuse. After all, if someone is harming us, the most loving thing we can do is remove ourselves from their reach.
It is amazing how fast relationships can turn from sweet to sour. Yet, I don’t think it’s because everyone on the planet is fickle. Most of us are just doing our best to survive this thing called life, and some are better at it than others.
Like most lessons, I’ve learned this one the hard way. I’ve also learned severed connections are much less painful when we hold our relationships loosely.
Rest assured I don’t mean to imply flippancy. I cherish the connections I have and will keep on cherishing them. The looseness with which I hold them comes not from being cavalier, but from being careful to recognize this: change is always happening in us and around us.
Nothing ever stays the same — particularly relationships. Even when we want them to go on the way they’ve always gone on, they almost never do. And when they do stay the same, it’s usually when that’s the last thing we want!
All it takes is one person changing, or the circumstance changing, for it to affect the dance. When that happens, each person in the relationship has a choice to make. They can make the necessary adjustments or they can choose to leave the dance floor.
Some may not know how to adjust. Others may not want to invest the effort required to learn new steps. Or, for whatever reason, they may have simply grown weary of the dance.
As heart wrenching as it may be, we must let those who wish to dance elsewhere twirl out of our lives and into whatever future is in store for them. What makes that easier to do is knowing there is one connection that can never be severed. The Apostle Paul wrote of this in Romans 8:38-39. It reads:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NLT)
Without that lifeline to Christ, severed connections would likely plummet me into the pit of despair. With it, I’ve learned not to take them so personally. I’ve also learned to stop trying to figure out other people’s behavior.
Instead of endlessly obsessing over what I could have done to prevent the loss, God’s unrelenting love gives me the strength and courage to graciously let go . . . and to keep on dancing.
For more on learning to let go, check out Three Valuable Lessons in Letting Go.