My little buddy and best friend for the past 11 years is dying. His name is O’Riley and he is a little terrier mix. When he was a puppy we called him our Terriorist, because he was so naughty. He was a bossy little thing, a big dog trapped in a tiny body. I was his person. He liked my husband, but he loved me best in all the world.
I have looked into his eyes and he has let me know it is time to let him go. He isn’t suffering, but he is tired.
Deaths are endings. Painful endings. It doesn’t matter if the death involves a human or an animal. When you love, you love. Period.
I have had the terrible, yet awesome, privilege of being with my brother and my father when they passed from this life to the next. Both were at home under hospice care. My brother left us in 1992. My father in 2009. In both cases I was holding their hands, telling them it was okay to let go. I knew that I would see them one day. I’d just have to wait a while. It hurt. Deeply. Yet, the confidence I felt in heaven and spending eternity with our Lord Jesus made it possible to rejoice in the fact that the very minute they breathed their last breath on earth was the very minute they opened their eyes in their newly minted glorified bodies. They were with Jesus. I could also let go.
Not all endings are as cut and dried as death though. Relationships end. Friendships end. Churches end.
I’ve experienced a few of those endings as well. They, too, are painful endings. Some were very necessary. Others were completely unnecessary.
I have had past relationships that were not healthy. For me. I’ve had friends that were in actuality not my friends. Yet at the time I couldn’t see that. When the betrayal was revealed, the pain was immense. How can someone who has purported to love and care for you turn on you in such a way as to inflict so much damage? Boggles my mind. I have seen people in church choose to gossip, slander, and spread falsehoods. Why? Is God honored by those actions? Is anyone honored by those actions? Those were definitely necessary endings.
Can you relate?
How about the unnecessary endings? The ones that ended because of pride or unwillingness to express regret, sorrow, or contrition. The ones that leave you full of more questions than answers. The ones that caused damage to many people. Painful. Totally preventable. Unfortunate.
Have you been a victim of those types of endings?
Nearly every day my husband and I get a call or email from people who have been hurt by the actions of others. Some are from wives or husbands expressing hurt and anger over their spouse’s behavior. Some are from pastors that were blind-sided by their church board, staff members, or congregants. Some are from church members who feel the need to leave their church because they feel unloved, unacknowledged, and unappreciated.
We, who were told directly by Jesus, to love our neighbors as ourselves, often fail to keep the most important relationships in our lives alive. We allow unnecessary endings.
It’s time to stop. It is time to behave like mature Christians. It is time to put away our stupid pride ( yes, I actually said stupid!) and humble ourselves and seek reconciliation.
I’m not suggesting that all relationships can be restored, but many can. Don’t give up too soon!
I’m not suggesting that you have to befriend and welcome with open arms someone who has betrayed you. Although you can come to a place where you are at peace with them.
I am suggesting that you can seek and give forgiveness and acknowledge any part you may have played in the situation. A little self examination goes a long way!
I am suggesting that you can move forward, after walking through the fire, and no longer smell of smoke. Now that is a refreshing place to find yourself!
It is our choice whether we end things the right way or the wrong way.
The wrong way burns bridges. The right way keeps those bridges intact.
The wrong way causes pain and heartache. The right way is often bittersweet, but anger is absent.
The wrong way seeks to persuade others to our point of view in order bolster our need to be right and the other person to be wrong. The right way keeps the matter between a trusted few in order not to cause collateral damage to the body of Christ.
Sometimes it is time to let go. Sometimes it is time to stay and fight. If we are honest before God and honest in our self reflection we will discover the path to take. Come on church! We can do better!
Editor’s note: Tonight little O’Riley passed away peacefully. Because I believe all dogs go to heaven I know he is happily running after bunnies right about now. RIP my dear little friend.