Vision When The Faces Are So Familiar
We're learning from our study of Philemon that inviting Christ to redeem our broken relationships always begins with a vision that looks beyond the hurt or disappointment we may feel to see the bigger purposes of God's hand in another person's story.
Oddly enough the place we sometimes struggle most with this is in our long-term relationships where we are most familiar with one another. Verna and I celebrate 31 years of marriage in a few weeks. Verna has seen the good, bad and ugly about me - over and over again. While she sees the growth in my life (hopefully!), she also sees where I haven't grown - the unhealthy patterns I have wrestled with throughout our marriage that still linger. I know it tests her patience. It also tests her vision. When there is so much history in a relationship - family or friend - we can lock into unhealthy patterns that are so subtle they sneak up on us, yet so strong they now define the relationship. It's not that we no longer see the unhealthy stuff. We do. But we have given up any hope that things could be different. We long to accept accept one another as Christ calls us to do. But there is a slippery slope toward apathy that sometimes grabs our heart.
Easy for vision to evaporate when we're more aware of repeated patterns of failure. Easy for hope to get lost in the reality of what we already know about someone's story.
I have given up the idea that there are problem-free, conflict-free relationships. Instead I have embraced the belief that conflict, even with the disappointment and hurt that follow, is fertile soil for spiritual transformation. When it comes, I learn something about my heart. When it comes, I get to test my spiritual maturity. When it comes, blind spots get exposed that would otherwise continue to damage others. When it comes, the truth about my humility (or lack of) is revealed. When it comes, I am given the opportunity to look beyond the hurt or disappointment I may feel to see God at work - in me and others.
Fighting For Your Heart,
Reflections for Your Spiritual Journey
- Think of a 'familiar' relationship where vision and hope sometimes feel hard.
- Reflect upon the reasons behind your struggle.
- This week invite Christ to expose any blind spots or growth gaps that may exist in you.
- Then invite Chrsit to restore your vision for your familiar friend.