Gratitude Day 611
Luke 22:1-2 – As the celebration of the Passover Lamb was approaching, the Jewish religious leaders and scholars of the law continually schemed to find a way to murder Jesus without starting a riot—for they feared the crowds.
“Those that mean the most to you are also the ones that will disappoint you the most,” the person said to me.
It was over two decades ago when I heard these words. I had just disappointed this person. And the person wanted me to know how hurt he was. Yes, I appreciated that he shared this with me. We were both professionals, well, actually pastors, and so we should have been able to be honest with each other.
Did this hick-up change how we related to each other going forward? Probably. We were cordial to each other. We continued to respect our clergy roles. But I’m confident that he probably remembered this exchange for years to come.
Clearly, I have.
There are just some relationships that feel more difficult than others. For every one of those relationships that is easy and breezy and oh, so life giving, the are also those that just always seem to create a little angst in our guts. These are the relationships that do not flow as natural. The ones that always feel a little more challenging and occupy more energy and headspace.
I am very much aware there are some people who can honestly say they do not have any of these “difficult” relationships in their life. They just simply walk away from them or choose to not be involved. At times, I wish I could be like this.
But I’m not.
Relationships can bring such joy to our lives. They can also be some of the most heartbreaking aspects of our lives. A relationship can change on a dime from one end of the spectrum to the other. A good day can become a challenging day based on one conversation, phone call or text. Relationships can be energy givers or energy drainers. I’ve felt this in my own life and witnessed it again and again in other people’s lives.
So how did Jesus navigate the precarious world of relationships? I wasn’t there so I can’t fully answer this question. But it’s easy to see not everyone was on the Jesus bus. Otherwise, the story probably would have had a different ending. Clearly, he irritated people, i.e. – the Jewish religious leaders. He didn’t always provide people what they wanted, i.e. – Pontius Pilate. He loved people, he saved people, he healed people, he understood people. He also irritated people, harmed people when he chose a different way and certainly didn’t cater to people and their wants. Mary and Martha would have preferred that he show up a lot soon than he did when their brother Lazarus was dying. It took some fast talking and acting on Jesus’ part to assure them that he wept right along side of them after their sibling died.
But even these relationships found new peace once again, after the dead brother comes back to life.
Did Jesus experience the yo-yo energy boost and drain of relationships like we so often do? It seems to me he did. Did he navigate this more appropriately than I do? Certainly, I can’t speak for Jesus. His patience and compassion and realistic approach in how he cared for people was way above my pay grade. Here’s now I know this:
- He prayed for those who carried out his death as one of his last acts of compassion.
- He made sure his Mom would be looked after while enduring the excruciating pain of execution.
- After his appearances in the garden on that first Easter morning, his next visits were to his closest friends who were holed up in a safe hiding place. When one of these guys wasn’t present the first go around, he came back a second time, just to make sure he wasn’t left out of the party. Talk about empathy.
For a few minutes, reflect upon the relationships in your life. Right now. Right here. What ones are bringing you much joy and happiness? Which ones are draining your energy and affecting you more acutely than you might be willing to admit? When it comes to the challenging ones, are there ones that you might be able to invest time and energy into with hopefully a positive outcome? Are there those that maybe should be put on pause right now because your ability to infuse positivity into them is at a standstill?
We can’t always control a relationship. They really require two parties willing to invest in them. When one person is choosing not to contribute positively, well, there’s very little the other person can do.
For me, receiving God’s cues about how to respond or act or handle a specific relationship is so often confusing. Thus, also very frustrating.
I know that I have hurt many people along my journey, whether it was intentional or not. Yes, people who I care about have hurt me as well. I have plenty of letters and emails and remembered conversations where I’ve been told exactly how I let someone down. Sometimes we’ve been able to move on. Other times, it’s much more challenging.
Look again at the bible verse at the beginning of this post. The religious leaders were far more concerned about how the average Joe people would respond to their decision to eliminate Jesus than how Jesus would feel about this. Yes, I know that Jesus’ death was going to happen no matter what. But isn’t it interesting where the religious leaders turned for validation? Approval? Where they wanted to keep peace?
I know that I often find myself in the same position; trying to choose the leaser of two bad choices while weighting who will be affected the least. More than once, the situation has backfired on me and no one ends up happy, including myself.
Holy Week may not be the time to try and “fix” an ill-feeling relationship right now. Or maybe it is the time to revisit one. I often say that I cannot affect how someone else responds to something. The only person I can control is myself. Jesus had the wisdom to embrace this at a much more elevated level than I do. We have much to learn from how he navigated the relationships of his day. I pray this is an example we reflect upon time and time again; Holy Week or not.
For Jesus’ example of navigating the challenging world of relationships, I am grateful.
Dear God – We long to be in relationship with other people; sometimes more than how another person feels about us. For the times we’ve hurt others and left behind a wake of harm and pain, please forgive us. Help bring perspective and clarity to our thoughts about those who have caused disappointment and hurt to us. May we turn to Jesus’ experiences and stories for guidance in what we should and should not do. Thank you for loving us so unconditionally, warts and all. Amen.
Stop by diannedeatonvielhuber on Instagram today for a few more thoughts about today’s Lenten topic.
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