Monday, July 26, 2010


Though you won't find this medical term on the illustration at left, I've been blessed with a good "forgetter." I can watch a movie and then watch it again six months later and be just as surprised by the ending. Fabulous. My family could give me the same birthday card each year, and I'd never know it. Hmmm, maybe they've already been doing that. I'll have to start keeping birthday cards in a drawer and checking them. Nope, that won't work. I'll forget where I keep them. A good forgetter is also handy when it comes to relationships. I tend to forgive rather easily. I don't hold grudges for long and it seems my pain from betrayal fades more quickly than others. Why? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with this good forgetter. (Did I mention that already?) There has been in recent days, however, a painful relationship that became too big for my forgetter to forget. A root of bitterness grew without my awareness or permission and soon bloomed into an ugly weed that affected my other relationships. The Lord took me through a process of tearing down the weeds and living with truths my forgetter must now remember. Jacob endured a similar process of letting go…

Gen 31:38-42 – “[Jacob said to Laban,] 'I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.'”
  • When we've been hurt deeply over time, the first step is to confront the one who offended us. Tell the person WHY we're angry, HOW their actions hurt you, WHEN it happened. Being specific about the pain forces us to examine our hearts and gives the offender concrete examples of their fault.
Gen. 31:43-45 – “Laban answered Jacob, 'The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? Come now, let's make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.' So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.”
  • Did Jacob agree that the women, children and flocks belonged to Laban? Absolutely not. However, Jacob had argued and bargained with his father-in-law enough to know that he wasn't going to change his mind with more words. At some point we must agree to disagree.
Gen. 31:46-47 – “[Jacob] said to his relatives, 'Gather some stones.' So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.”
  • These men couldn't even agree on which language to use in naming the altar! Laban used Aramaic and Jacob used Hebrew to name it, “witness heap.” However, Jacob called on his relatives as witnesses (no doubt his wives – Laban‟s daughters) to both support and hold accountable.
Gen. 31:48-50 – “Laban said, 'This heap is a witness between you and me today.' That is why it was called Galeed. It was also called Mizpah, because he said, 'May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.'”
  • The men recognized that God was watching and aware of the end of this long struggle between them. I believe it must have given them power, confidence and freedom to move forward, knowing the God of Creation witnessed the severing of the relationship.
Gen. 31:51-55 – “Laban also said to Jacob, 'Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.' So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.”
  • Before the final good-bye, its helpful to agree on the terms of future relationship – when possible. Agree to boundaries, and agree to cause no more intentional pain. We often believe the lie that success in relationship is defined only by reconciliation. Not so. Sometimes God's greatest work happens in the heart of one who can walk away in peace – and let go.
Lord, redefine my image of success in relationship. I'm so bent on being a peacemaker that I often sacrifice honesty and bury my pain. Teach me the art of ending a relationship well – to say what should be said and create boundaries that promote lasting peace – within and without.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Thank you, Mesu! A very good reminder for me today. Letting go of any hurtful relationships is hard to do. But, as you have so eloquently written, there is a way and it is healthy for all involved. I must admit that I wish I had your “forgetter”. I seem to have the opposite problem and could wish that I would forget. That is a work in process with my Maker.