Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning [the Hard Way]

I love that life is a journey. That I have the opportunity and ability to grow, to change, to become.

Of course, in that journey, not all change is good change, when our choices cause us to change for the worse.

In what I consider my last season of life, I didn't really care about my choices. My unspoken motto was, "I do what I want." I still struggle with that attitude, but I'm learning to harness it for good. And make better choices.

Ever since I was a teenager, one of my mom's most-repeated adages was, "Make good choices." The funny thing about being headstrong is, you can hear something all day, but not do it. Just like the band dc Talk used to sing, "Some people gotta learn the hard way..."

And so it was for me. I did what I wanted when I wanted, and it wasn't always good. In fact, a lot of times what I did wasn't beneficial.

I think we all struggle with this. Either we decide we want to experience life, whatever the cost, or we have something in mind that we want, and we'll do whatever we have to to get it.

I believe the latter attitude is a spawning ground for bad choices, especially when it comes to relationships. People want relationships, to date and marry, and some will sacrifice much just so they won't be alone. When you are blinded by the end goal, it's difficult to see the reality around you.

I've learned this in a lot of relationships; people can and will drain the life out of you, if you allow them to. Through words, actions, attitudes, they can drag you down like a rusted anchor to a place you never want to go.

Thank the Lord that he saves us from our bad choices when we can't get ourselves out.

The reality about so many of these leeching relationships is that we think we want them so badly. But after they end and the heartbreak fades, we can begin to see why they were so wrong. This person didn't bring peace, they only wanted to fight. This person didn't love, they lusted. This person wasn't seeking good, they were seeking personal gratification. This person didn't encourage, they injured.

The list can go on, and I'm sure every person can add to it. Whether friendship or romantic relationship, most of us have experienced it. On the outside, looking back at past failed relationships, there are a few concepts I come away with.

First, I want the ability to see these relationships a mile away, and avoid them at all cost. And really, it's not that hard to tell when someone is a leech. If they're not encouraging you toward Christ, they're only going to pull you away. So don't entertain it before it starts. Make a good choice, and don't get involved.

Second, I want the ability to recognize if I am in a disastrous friendship/relationship, and have the courage to get out of it as soon as possible. I feel like this is the hardest point, and one at which most people fail because of that fear of loneliness. This is the point that calls for the most resolve and determination. And the understanding that, though it may hurt for a time, you will be so much better off outside the relationship.

Finally, I want to be able to encourage others toward positive friendships and relationships, and away from destructive ones. Loving confrontation is a whole other blog entry, but is so essential. If you don't love your friends enough to encourage them toward Christ, then you are not a true friend. Part of that includes encouraging them toward right living, and making good choices.

Yes, some of us choose to learn the hard way. (And bad choices extend to more than just relationships.) But if we truly are learning the hard way, we won't keep repeating the same mistakes. We'll learn, grow, change for the better. We'll strive for Christ, and let him guide us to the life he wants us to live. And trust me, it's better than any life we could attempt to construct for ourselves.

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