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Remember when we used to be friends? You know the kind of friends that see each other face to face. Plan time together that included coffee, laughs and sometimes a few tears.  Or those times when a text or call would be the start of a long lengthy conversation solving the worlds’ problems. Do you remember when we could agree to disagree on our differences without fear of being called names? I remember… do you?

Now it seems we have been reduced to social media friends at best. We might stop in periodically to each other’s page to see what’s on your mind? But texts go unanswered, private messages sit staring that they have been read with no response, the phone doesn’t ring and the coffee dates are never scheduled.

I don’t think we meant for it to happen. Life has a way of stepping in and creating space and distance. But I wonder sometimes if it could be the way it used to be… I find myself asking the hard questions about our relationship? Did I do something? …or did we simply drift? Whatever it was I cherish the memories made.

In the midst of it all, our nation is divided on so many issues. Relationships are becoming more and more fragile. We begin to judge our loved ones and friends based on the blog, news article and status we share. We begin to see our differences of belief as reasons to discard each other and “unfriend” one another.  We are no longer offering grace and leading with love. We want everyone to see our view and our view only.

I am not writing this to anyone in particular and writing it for everyone…if that makes sense. You see relationships are tricky. Relationships are at the core of everything we do. We can’t escape them…even when we try.  I have been in ministry for 15 years and I have seen a good many relationships come and go. Marriages that I thought would last for sure…end. Marriages I thought for sure would not make it through the crisis…thrive. I have seen friendships that were as close as can be fade away to simply memories on the shelf.

I have spent countless hours counseling many people and at the heart of it all is relationships. Relationships with God or lack thereof…relationships with family members…relationships with spouses and children… I wish I could say that I have it all figured out. I wish that every relationship I had was perfect and what I wanted it to be…but I can’t. I have been guilty of neglect of the precious gift of friendship. I have been hurt by the casting aside of relationship. I have hurt people, and been hurt by people.

And yet I keep moving forward, asking forgiveness, forgiving others.  I put boundaries in place where they need to be and pray that they are the right boundaries. I pray everyday that God would give me wisdom as I navigate through all the different relationships He has trusted with me. I pray for those who have a bad taste in their mouth when they see my name or face on their newsfeed or hear someone mention me. I try to offer grace because I am in need of so much grace!

I want the world to know what I stand for…and not against. And I am for relationships… I really believe relationships matter! I really do believe that God loves everyone. RIGHT.WHERE.THEY.ARE! I really believe that we can have relationships with people who believe differently than us. And I really believe that we can work through incredibly messy stuff to be friends, family and live in community.

John 15: 12-15 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

I say all of this to say, relationships take work. The work will include laughs, tears, and determination.  Don’t give up! Keep moving forward! Keep forgiving and asking forgiveness! Don’t let pride, baggage and unmet expectations keep you from moving past the messy into the beautiful.