Sometimes, when things go wrong, we are deeply and negatively affected. Sometimes there is little we can do about those things. Sometimes it’s possible to walk away. Many times it’s not, and so we find ourselves in a trap of sorts.
We make a fuss about the situation, try to do what we can, and then hope that things will improve. When it comes to things, that could work just fine. We learn new skills or learn how to control some machines better. It’s very possible.
But when it comes to people and relationships, we falter. Some of the things we choose to do work for some time, then they become ineffective. Sometimes they don’t work at all. Sometimes we walk away. Sometimes, we give second, third, fourth and n number of chances.
It’s the chances I want us to look at here. Why do we give those many chances? What are the true reasons?
- We need those people and their contribution in our lives, and we fear that if we pull back they won’t come back to us.
- We somehow feel unworthy of good relationships and offer to settle for less.
- We believe that those people are truly repentant and will change
- We hope that this time it will be different if we do some different things
- We want to maintain a certain image to society
- We want a shorter mourning/suffering/painful period.
See, some of those reasons are selfish. Let me explain why. Because the motivation is really to regain our lost comfort as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not the other person has truly changed for the better.
If we really cared for the other person, we would not hasten the process of healing/restoration/recovery. We would wait for them to learn their lesson. Because if they keep experiencing the comfort of our fellowship, a few things will happen.
- They’ll believe that what they did isn’t so bad, so they’ll keep on doing it.
- They’ll never get to face the consequences of their actions, so they’ll never really learn and grow
- And additionally, they will lose respect for us knowing that we can take any horrible actions from them and still nothing changes for them.
We all reap what we sow, no, actually, we reap a magnification of what we sow. One maize seed produces lots more. Or an orange seed. Or the famous mustard seed.
So, here are some questions.
- Are you sowing seeds of respect? Is what you are doing going to cause people to respect you more or less? Handle you better or worse?
- Even as you continue giving the fellowship, are you motives pure? Is your heart in a good place, or is it heavy, full of bitterness and resentment?
- Is shielding your loved ones going to help them learn the lessons from the consequences of their actions? Is it going to help them get better rather than worse? Is it going to encourage good behavior or worse behavior?
It is important that people bear the consequences of their actions, so that they can change for the better. That’ll result in a longer-lasting transformation than restoring them to fellowship and comfort asap. It may be uncomfortable for you to bear, because for a while you will also do without their fellowship, benefits and so on, but it will, in the long run, result in better relationships in the future. And you are worth that wait. Because, if you don’t endure that temporary severance of relationship, you will continually, perhaps forever live with worse, perpetual pain, or even a total loss of the relationship.
Therefore, even as we give a second or nth chance, let’s do so in love. Forgive, yes, but love them truly, by not just giving our fellowship, but also by allowing them to learn from their mistakes, even if that means withdrawing the quality of our fellowship to allow room for them to see the gravity of their actions. And yes, we will also need to take that time to reflect upon our own actions and pray and plan about how we can also do better, even as we give ourselves some time to heal.
Reflect on this paraphrased set of quotations from a book I’m reading for the second time in barely 3 months.
“We need to look closely at ourselves. Is our behaviour providing the climate for those who hurt us to really want to change? DO YOU REALLY WANT THEM TO CHANGE? Or are you making it easy for them to continue with their problem, by shielding them from the consequences of their behaviour? We’ve all heard many times how most people need to hit rock bottom before they will seek help… Don’t shield them in any way. They must suffer. That is the ONLY way they will learn… Never shield people from life’s difficulties. Overcoming difficulties is how character is developed.”