The passing of a relationship can feel like death. And it is a dying of sorts, if only a dying of dreams and hopes coupled with that fearful return to being single. But there are worse things, things lurking in the darker realms of relationships, the shadowy realms. I do not even mean the more tragic scenes of rape, abuse, or the eventual divorce. I mean also the pieces of our heart that lie strewn across the years of trying. A song I wrote many years ago begins like this;
“Every person that comes in your life takes another piece of your heart
and with every piece that slips away it gets a little harder to try.”
Carelessness in relationships is not only dangerous because of what may happen, but also because of what may die within you. Every failed relationship takes its toll, and yet, not every relationship can go forward.
As David Wilcox puts it, “Sometimes you build your hopes up and you fall back down again.??”
God acts kindly in hindering us if we are in a relationship that is not His best. The kindest thing He can do is to keep us from greater mistakes. Oswald Chambers recounts this story.
‘Have you, I wonder, ever had to do something to a pet dog in order to get it well, something which hurt it very much—pulled a thorn out of its foot, or washed out a wound, or anything of that sort? If so, you will remember the expression of dumb eloquence in the eyes of the dog as he looked at you; what you were doing hurt him tremendously and yet there seemed to speak from his eyes such a trust of you as if he would say, ‘I don’t in the least understand what you are doing, what you are doing hurts, but go on with it.’”
Our desires shape our lives far more than the truth. I mean that what we want can cloud what we see, what we hear, how we pursue and what we pursue. If we want something bad enough we may be able to convince ourselves that the warnings we hear have some other plausible explanation, some other explanation.
It is a very difficult to be hungry and have someone tell you the thing you are eating is poison. It may be the truth, but it does not curb the hunger. I understand why some starved souls eat from dumpsters—they are hungry and can hope for nothing better. We are not without hope.
Being hindered by God may be unpleasant and painful, but being hindered is the surest sign that we are loved. God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path we choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship, and He does all this in love. He does all this out of a wild love for us.
Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the despondently married, and they will tell you that there were signs. They will confess that there were obstacles and hindrances that they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting there is worse. If He hinders you be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship heed them.
There were a thousand excuses I used to imagine as to why an interest did not notice me or did not return my calls. There were a thousand reasons, and all of them caught in the web of my own fertile imagination. There were a million other reasons, but none of them could bring life where none existed. There were a million reasons, but none of them could justify ignoring clear evidence that this or that relationship was not to be.
But that is not easy medicine for the chronically lonely to swallow. In fact, it is a bitter pill. Sometimes, no matter the clever reasons each person concocts it is clear that a dead end is a dead end and yet—loneliness hurts. At least for the moment, loneliness seems worse.
As a single man I was forced to confront new barriers, distance, time, money, and race. I have had to consider whether these things were hindrances, barriers, or hurdles. Some things are sent to halt our progress, and some to challenge our resolve. The difficulty is discerning when we are to stop and when we are to fight. The trouble is that loneliness makes fighters of us all. Many hold on, many fight on, because it is easier than being alone.
What I did not know at thirty is that the ocean is not so deep and not so expansive. Those hearts whose passion for God enflamed my own heart and pressed me to grow were rare, and finding them required work. That made waiting very difficult. That made giving up even harder. That made letting go nearly impossible, especially when there was a chance.
Personally, I know that on several occasions I gave up too soon and on several occasions I held on too long. The reasons were the same; either did not have the guts to step up, or conversely I did not have the courage to let go.
It has never been my way to offer easy answers and I will not start now. We must each judge when these problems, complications and delays are God’s way of saying no, and when we are simply afraid. Perhaps He is, in His patient and loving way, protecting us. Perhaps He is, in His often subtle way, trying to redirect us. In this case persistence is really stubbornness.
The next time you find yourself hindered do not be wise in your own eyes. Do not scheme so well that you find your way around God’s barriers or a way through his hindrances. It is possible, is it not, that it is difficult for a reason? Perhaps it is not suppose to BE—at all. If He is hindering you—be hindered.
It is possible that the doubts you have are your own insecurities, but it is also possible that they are real red flags, requiring real and immediate
See Psalm 130:5, Proverbs 3:7, Proverbs 3:11-12, Isaiah 30:21