By Pastor Jamey VanGelder
I received some advice several years ago. It has served me well. Perhaps it will help you also. It goes like this:
“Relationships are often seasonal. They can be intense and relevant in one season and in the next seem distant. Make sure you allow people to come and go. Don’t try to control them. Be happy to enjoy their company when they are near and bless them as their journey leads them away. Don’t burn bridges! Continue to provide a way for people to enter back into relationship with you. Because you never know what the next season will hold.”
This advice has served me well. I have had many relationships over the years. People come and go. Some have good reasons for moving on like a job change or moving to another state. Others leave a relationship for unhappy reasons like they got hurt or offended. Other relationships just fade because of lack of communication or what was in common before just isn’t any more. All of these reasons are valid excuses to bring distance to a relationship.
As humans we like to feel in control. We want to feel powerful. But when a season ends for a relationship it leaves us feeling vulnerable and often unsure. Those feelings produce a sense of powerlessness. And we don’t like that. So often we react by cutting ties with people. This brings a sense of relief because we were able to exercise control.
My choice to leave bridges unburned is counterintuitive to most people in the world. What the world fails to see is just how powerful of a choice this really is. It takes great courage to bless people as they leave your life (especially those who have caused you pain). It takes great power to choose love in the face of other’s bad behavior. While I do not have the ability to control other’s behavior and choices; I do have the power to control my own behavior. And this is what makes a person truly powerful.
The results from holding this value are wonderful. I have become a powerful person in my relationships because I don’t try to control. I am left feeling powerful because I can truly rejoice in seeing people I haven’t seen in years. There are no awkward moments at the grocery store when “that one person” is in the next isle over. The truth is this, those people who have left my life may never come back or become friends again. Yet because I have left a bridge and chosen powerful love; the past has no ability to control my future.