“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven.” Prov 17:9
Lately I have been spending a good deal of my time thinking about relationships. The highs and the lows of relationships and the various forms they take. I have even been thinking about broken relationships. Here is what I have found to be true.
Relationships are messy.
Relationships can leave you bruised and beaten.
Sometimes it feels like you are in the trenches and never gaining any ground.
However, despite all of the heartache and pain, relationships can be the singular most beautiful aspect of life that we experience. Relating to other people in ways that cause us to sacrifice our wants and needs, to give of ourselves unselfishly and freely, is a picture of the kind of love Jesus tried to show us when he walked the deserts of the Middle East.
But sometimes we don’t love this way. We feel slighted by the other person and treat them with malice and ill intent as punishment for what they have done to us. We were created to love. We can aspire to love, but we can just as easily aspire to hate. Why?
Because we have been jaded by someone.
We have been hurt.
We have been treated with hostility and anger, spoken to in degrading tones, and those words have entered into our thoughts and minds like venom from a snake bite.
We have not been treated like we wish to be treated, so why would we treat others with love and kindness? Why should I sacrifice for you when you will not sacrifice for me? As I grow older I realize the old adage, “you reap what you sow”, holds a wealth of truth.
Imagine two gardens planted by different men. One garden is haphazardly planted. The rows are crooked, the ground hasn’t been turned and the weeds are so thick you can’t even tell where the tomato plants begin. The air is thick with the stench of rotting vegetables and the plants are wilted from lack of water.
However, the other garden is pristine. It looks like it belongs on the front page of a magazine. The rows are exactly two feet apart. The ground is so soft your feet sink into the soil. The plants are fertilized and watered on a schedule that could rival a production line. There are no weeds, just lush vegetation. The air smells of tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. The whole neighborhood enjoys the spoils of this garden.
Which garden would you want to have? Would you want the garden with vegetables rotting on the vine or the garden of your dreams?
Naturally we want the garden that is beautiful and produces good fruit, but to achieve this we have to work at it. Nobody sees the hours our fictional old man spends weeding, watering, pruning and picking his garden. We don’t see the labor of love he puts into it. We don’t see the value he has placed upon this garden.
We want the good garden, but our actions say we are content with the rotting one.
We desire a fantastic marriage, yet we treat our spouse with indifference. We no longer see the love of our life standing in front of us. Instead, we see a person with faults and problems who only cares about themselves. We no longer see the value in the person we couldn’t live without.
We want our kids to be the best they can be, but we degrade them and never speak encouragement into their lives. We constantly yell at them, fight with them and bully them into submission. We, the parents, have the perfect path planned for them, yet we forget they are unique individuals with their own path to walk. Our job as parents is to help them find that path, not force them on one they were never meant to walk.
Negativity breeds negativity.
Jealousy breeds jealousy.
Hate breeds hate.
Nobody wants hate in their life, yet they let it in by the way they treat people. I understand being hurt and wanting justification. I understand treating people the same way we have been treated, but doing that only continues the cycle of hate and anger.
Love calls me to pour good things into those around me.
Love calls me to show hope to the hopeless.
Love calls me to encourage the destitute and to heal the broken.
Love calls me to go deeper, to go higher and to go farther into the heartaches and pains of people around me.
I am willing to sow into people exponentially and to see the fruits spring forth. I am willing to get my hands dirty and fight in the trenches for my relationships. I am no longer satisfied with the rotting, stinking gardens that we have become so accustomed to.
I want the good garden.
I want to prosper.