Some of my biggest regrets in life have been associations that ended on less favorable terms than I would have preferred. It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, if anyone—I hate any time that misunderstandings, presumption, or just a lack of right communication unravels years of positive achievements among those who journey together. It’s when these types of events occur that a troubling sense of non-closure remains in place of what should have been wonderful memories and a sense of gratitude for even a temporary joining of purpose.
We can’t change the fact that, during the course of our lifetimes, many people will move in and out of our circles. It’s a constant process. People whom we presume will always be an intricate part of our lives can suddenly be gone through death, divorce, broken contracts, changes of plans, kids growing up and leaving home, right or wrong open/closed doors, shifting seasons, dissolving of likemindedness, and even discord. Others whom we never imagined being part of our lives can just as suddenly become new friends, family, or associates.
No matter what shifts you’re experiencing, I urge you to apply great grace to how you handle each relationship in your life, perhaps especially those with whom your season appears to be coming to an end. Be tender even when you have to stand your ground. Don’t withhold words that need to be said. Don’t just let people stew in confusion or offense if it’s within your power to be the one who applies the healing balm of peace or brings clarity. Sometimes it’s humbling. Sometimes it costs us the chance to feel as if we got the last word in edgewise. Sometimes, even when we feel we weren’t in the wrong, it means we apologize first.
One translation of Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The KJV would even say, “as much as lies within you.” Another one of those inconvenient seventy-times-seven moments! Could it be that even in the Twenty-First Century, mature believers are still expected to exceed the norm, take the high road, swallow our pride, lose the sarcasm and backbiting, follow peace, walk with integrity, forgive, choose to preserve the remnants of mutual respect…even when our emotions are all over the place or disappointment stings our sensibility? I believe that, yes we must— for the sake of Christ.
Choose how you want to be remembered by those with whom your path has crossed. You can’t always prevent being misunderstood, but let your track record be one of such consistent virtue that it’d be hard for others not to see genuineness in your motives and guileless love in your heart. Each encounter, with those whose presence we take for granted, could be our last.
Lord, may we be conformed to Your image so much that, even in our losses, we glorify You and live above reproach. Help us be the repairers of the breach wherever possible; and whenever we find ourselves at those painful but sometimes inevitable forks in the road, help us release others with blessing and not bitterness. Sharpen our discernment to reveal the enemy’s hidden plots to erode and to isolate, to divide and to sabotage; and when we are in the wrong, compel us to run toward the opportunity to make things right again. Help us guard our hearts—and our words—with all diligence. We pray in Jesus’ name for Your grace to cover us and Your love to flow out of us. We can trust You to honor when we choose to live peaceably with all people. Amen.