I wrote in my blog a story titled, “The Drought of Relationships.” A few words prayed deeply, honestly, desperately by a friend prompted that story. Many years of ministry and many friends living in isolation remind me we need more of that story.
My accountability team met together early in our normal place. Sitting, talking, asking, thinking, discussing, evaluating, confronting, praying. During the prayer time, my friend requested for the Listener to end a drought many people were enduring. Not a dreaded drought related to weather, lack of moisture, and dangerous consequences of health.
Those words didn’t leave me. I saw, and see, such a drought in so many lives. Lonely people stay very busy. Avoidance, lack of honesty, the refusal to be authentic and transparent, keeping one’s distance. These actions describe today’s status for too many lives. Past hurts influence present behavior which prohibits possible relationships. Pain—deep, deep pain—is allowed to remain alive. Rather than risking another hurt, another disappointment, and another scar, humans tend to choose isolation. Instead of recovery and forgiveness, our lives’ stinging narratives invite many pastors to keep relationships on the surface.
That isolation is hidden well. It is masked by humor and hurry, by religion and business, by control and dependence, by obsession and avoidance, by lies and political correctness, by a rapid pace and common numbness. Deep inside, the longing grows.
People—we—are made to live in the plural, not the singular. People—we—crave community. And, the same people have been hurt so deeply in relationships they—we—often maintain a distance. Considering it a safe distance, those avoiding choose to cope by dull religion, surface relationships, and shallow conversations.
What about you? Do you have a friend who allows you to speak honestly? A friend who refuses to gossip, preach, condemn, or turn away from the relationship? Do past hurts control present decisions? Have you recently spoken hateful words about another person, then finally realized those words came from the storage of wounds from your past? Are you willing to forgive those who haven’t asked for forgiveness and haven’t admitted to doing wrong?
Come up with more questions of your own. Think and ponder and consider. Evaluate yourself. Not someone else. Yourself. And pursue friendship. Deep, sincere, transparent friendships.
It is not good that we dwell alone. It is not good that we have only surface friends, narrow friends, or fake friends. We need friends. Seek counseling. Seek advice. Seek change. Seek friends. As Bishop Ray Willis says, “Don’t live as independent people. Relationships make you stronger.” Together, let us begin pursuing an end to this drought.
This week’s spiritual discipline is Spiritual Friendships. Today’s blog is from the book Pause for Pastors.