2/9/05

reaching across a thick distance

I found Amie's question compelling and gave it some serious thought. Not that I have any notion of being able to answer the question per se. But the question seemed to punctuate what I was trying to say about what happens when someone thickens the distance in a relationship.



In all relationships I know, there is a give and take that creates a unique dynamic. Some relationships are more give, some less, some more take, some less. Few are "balanced" in the sense that the give and take are fully mutual and in synch. Added to the dynamic of give and take are the movements of distancing and joining. Distancing, in and of itself, is not a bad thing and in fact, adds a healthy dimension to relationships. One example of healthy distancing is redefining boundaries when we begin to feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of.



If I find myself in a relationship or situation where I can never break through to reach the person I am trying to love, understand, get to know, etc. then I find myself in a very frustrating and lonely circumstance. Strangely, it has been my experience that the people trying to break through are loath to surrender to the reality that maybe a break through is not possible.



This points to a fine line for all of us (though the line's location and impact is different for each of us) between fool's hope and faithful waiting. It has taken me many years to figure out where I cross the line from faithful waiting to fool's hope - I think I finally know. I invest less energy these days in trying to break through to someone who "thickens the distance" - especially if I am looking for a mature, mutual, give and take relationship.



My best advice - if I could even call it that, is to pay attention to the energy you are using and be honest with yourself about where your true limits are. Energy, like money, is a resource that is not inexhaustible. I have found it helpful to ask myself the question, how much energy do I have to invest in this person who gives every indication of being a challenge? Once I begin investing energy, I have to remind myself that I am gambling. If I lose all, I did so with both eyes open.



One of the great tensions of loving the world (my world, your world) is balancing faith, hope, and love with understanding, insight, and perspective. In other words, we must be adept at loving with reckless abandon while taking precautions. I think of life as an extreme sport. You're crazy to catapult yourself off the edge of a sheer wall without training, equipment, coaching, and dedicated partners. Some people just collect equipment with no intention of jumping. Others jump again and again thinking God will catch them on the way down only to crash on the rocks with a shattering thud.



Sadly, there are distances I have not bridged to people I have loved and who have not been able to break through to me in spite of my efforts to prove trustworthiness and sincerity. I carry the sadness of those experiences and the learnings that limits are real, not all that begins well ends well, and breakthroughs, while possible, are not certain - no matter how big my faith, hope and love are.

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