Let’s face it, as any parent or pet owner would know—there is no pleasant way to clean up vomit! My son once had a dog that always managed to throw up on the carpet when I was the only one home. Because it was on the carpet I couldn’t wait for the boy to come home and clean up his dog’s mess. I had the privilege of experiencing first-hand the real life side of the timeless, treasured image of a boy and his dog.
With regard to romantic relationships, we now live in a time where we expect, and even demand, that our relationships always carry the happily ever after fairytale mystic. It begins with spending oodles of money on proms, then oodles more on the perfect wedding. Unfortunately, the day quickly comes when we are appalled by the stark realities of life.
All of this applies to our church relationships as well. For some reason we think that our interaction with other Christians is always going to be syrupy sweet; that other believers will never be self-absorbed or uncaring. How I remember the day that a man in the church cheated me when he sold me a defective shotgun for small game hunting! It took me a long time to work through that one. Such things should never happen amongst professing Christians—and yet they do.
We prefer to envision all of our church relationships as warm, fuzzy, Kumbaya campfire experiences. How quickly we forget how deep the extent of humanity’s brokenness runs! Even those who love God with all of their hearts will have unpleasant issues at work in their lives.
Do you enjoy a good steak? How about prime rib or filet mignon? Unless you are a vegan there’s nothing distasteful about enjoying a prime cut of meat in a nice restaurant. Purchasing the meat from a grocery store is a little more messy, but certainly still tolerable (especially when grilled!). Killing and butchering a cow, however, is a completely different issue. And yet we can’t have that delicious steak if somebody doesn’t go through the repulsive process of killing and cutting up the animal. There is simply no way around it.
So what’s my point? The fact that there may be unpalatable elements to our interpersonal relationships does not mean that everything is grossly out of whack. Ever since the fall of man, love and pain have been inseparable. The real problem is when we run from the unpleasant aspects of interpersonal relationships rather than seeking to effectively deal with them. In essence, nobody is going to come along and butcher the cow for you. We each need to be willing roll up our sleeves and get messy. It’s okay if the process is clumsy or awkward. Love will triumph in the end.
I realize that I may have offended some readers by using such a bloody analogy (pun intended), but it illustrates my point very well. We can be so enriched if we are willing to work through unpleasant relationship difficulties with honest hearts! Those who are unwilling just may find themselves starving for emotional nourishment.