DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS ARE CHALLENGING to say the least, but the commitment it takes to stay in those relationships can be even more challenging.
Difficult relationships take time, energy and stamina.
So what do you do when you’re tempted to run the other way? Maybe your energy level has just been zapped for the millionth time in one week. Why should you hang in there? What’s to be gained by your continued commitment?
In my experience with difficult relationships, I have found several reasons why staying committed is worth the effort. I would like to share 3 of those reasons with you.
DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS – 3 REASONS TO STAY COMMITTED
REASON 1 – PEOPLE CAN CHANGE. I recently watched the movie “Same Kind a Different as Me.” I had read the book years ago, but watching the movie reminded me again that people can change. At the end of the movie, the homeless man Denver gave the eulogy at Miss Debbie’s funeral. Miss Debbie was a woman who worked in a soup kitchen and had befriended Denver. Denver’s words struck home to me when he said, “…You loved me for who I was on the inside, the person God meant for me to be, the one that had just gotten lost for awhile on some ugly roads in life.” Miss Debbie’s commitment to love Denver despite his homelessness and anger changed this man’s life forever.
REASON 2 – CHANGE TAKES TIME. Difficult relationships don’t change overnight. They take commitment, love and a whole lot of prayer. I have personally experienced this.
Many people don’t feel worthy of being loved, so they begin the relationship right away by making it difficult to love them. In most cases, it works. The person who is trying to love the difficult person tires and leaves the relationship thus reinforcing to the difficult person they are not worth the effort – they are unworthy of being loved. But when one commits to love them for the long haul, despite the ugliness, trust begins to grow. Eventually the shell starts to crack and love seeps through. It’s when love has pentrated the difficult person’s wall of defense that change begins.
REASON 3 – A CHANGED LIFE BRINGS FREEDOM. Don’t we all want freedom? I do, and so does the difficult person. They have been trapped inside a mindset of unworthiness for so long, they have no idea what it’s like to be free. Free to be loved. We’ve all experienced this feeling of entrapment. Maybe we’ve made a mistake, sinned, failed to keep a promise. Each time we mess up, we chastise ourself and the little voice inside our head beats us down another notch. But when someone loves us despite all our mistakes – big or little – we feel a freedom from self-defeat.
When looking for an example of commitment, look to God.
God is the ultimate example of commitment.
Think about it. God puts up with us daily.
“The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised – the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives.” (2 Peter 3:9, NCV)
At times, God must shake His head as we drag our feet to obey Him. We make one mistake after another, yet He never gives up on us. He loves us anyway. God loves us so much, He sent His only son Jesus to die for us. Jesus willingly sacrificed His life so that we might live, not only here on earth, but in eternity with them.
God’s commitment to love us is never-ending – even if we never change.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you. The commitment to your difficult relationship is worth the effort. It’s worth staying fully committed. I’ve see change happen. It will come, but it won’t happen over night. When struggles emerge, look up and remember the commitment our Lord has made on our behalf. Follow His example. He’s the master of commitment.
“The Lord is good. His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on.” (Psalm 100:5, NCV)
Prayer: Dear Abba, Thank You for Your commitment to love us. Thank You for Your example of how to love other people, especially those who are difficult to love. Let us see the worth of staying committed to those relationships and help us to love like You do. We know change can happen because we see what happened to us when Your love penetrated the cracks of our hardened souls. We are grateful Your love-pursuit never ends. Thank You, Abba. In Jesus precious name we pray, Amen.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What reasons have you found for staying committed to difficult relationships? How have you gained strength to stay in the relationship for the long haul? What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with a difficult relationship?