No one would admit what happened the night my husband and I were out of town. But from the photos I stumbled upon, I already knew. The truth stared back at me from the social media pictures.
The days and years that followed this incident were filled with more deceptive behavior .
Love and trust are a tightly woven cord. Once the cord weakens, it is incredibly hard to reweave, though not impossible.
During the unraveling, I suppressed my pain and sorrow which created a thick darkness that prevented me from loving the deceiver. I worked hard to avoid eye contact– or any contact. I ran a lot of “errands” and kept busy with trivial tasks– hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with my feelings or the truth.
When a parent and child share a trusting relationship, the child enjoys certain freedoms, and the parent enjoys a sense of peace. A trustworthy child is a priceless gift. But relationships change once the bond breaks– often permanently.
Efforts to repair the brokenness are important because a changed relationship is better than no relationship. There are many ways out of the darkness of a grieving heart and into the light of reconciliation.
After searching and praying, I found my way out through an attitude of tolerance. I learned from Jesus who lovingly built bridges toward those who thought and acted differently from what He desired for His followers.
He intentionally chose to form relationships with the liars, cheaters, and betrayers– anyone deemed unworthy by the culture of His day. Likewise, He expects us to be tolerant toward others and form relationships with them no matter how different our ideas, backgrounds, political beliefs, or lifestyle choices. (When I write about tolerance, I am not condoning anything contrary to God’s Word. Rather, I am following the truths I learned in it that taught me to accept others no matter who they are or what they have done. I agree with God’s Word that every life is valuable and worthy of a relationship.)
Jesus never turned His back on sinners or outcasts; He turned toward them by accepting them as they were, where they were. He modeled reaching out instead of cutting off. This is how He opened doors to an eternal relationship with Himself.
Realizing He is the Master Builder of relationships, I felt I desperately needed to follow His example in order to reconnect with my loved one. Maybe you need this, too.
In John 4, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman and loved her as she was. He knew about her past but built a bridge toward her future through His offering of Living Water– which led to the salvation of many.
Building bridges over our troubled pasts allow access to a future flowing with Living Water.
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He commands us to love the haters; love the liars; love those who wish evil on us; love those who offend us; love those who disappoint us; love those who are the hardest to love. We are called to rise above any mistreatment by sending up prayers.
Jesus commands us to repay good for evil and love with agape love- the same love He offers to us. Our relationship with friend, foe, or family should look like a love feast that overflows with kind words and actions.
Offering our love to those who hate us, opens our hearts to receive more love from Christ.
Because I knew love was an action and not a feeling, I came to this conclusion:
Tolerance facilitates the action of love toward anyone with whom we struggle; it is the key to relationship building.
Tolerance for others is like the bottom rung on a ladder of love. It is the first step we must take toward those who have hurt us, deceived us, or turned their backs on us. The first step is often the hardest, but the more we climb, the better our relationships become.
After the initial step, the climb continues to the next rung of forgiveness, which leads to softer hearts. Then we slowly ascend rung by rung by lowering our guard, showing kindness, seeing the positive, and beginning to share life again. Ultimately, when we reach the top, we are able to live in love and unison with those who were once considered our enemy, betrayer, or persecutor.
At times, the climb may be steep and dangerous, and it might include moments of discouragement or the desire to back down. But the only way to restoration is to continue the climb.
When we tolerate behaviors with which we disagree, choices contrary to our values, and beliefs which are doctrinally unsound, we create a space for others to express themselves without fear of judgment or rejection. Tolerating others opens doors and welcomes communication and reconciliation.
Tolerance reminds me of grace. Looking past sin through the lens of grace allows us to love others in spite of their poor choices. If we do this, then we are leaving the judgment to God and learning to tolerate the things we don’t like in order to connect and love in the same way as Christ.
While we wait, we must tolerate a wide variety of mindsets, attitudes, and choices.
Our goal: building and preserving relationships.
Grace and tolerance work together as an entrance into the depths of our loved one’s hearts to bring about reconciliation.
“Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Rom. 15:7)
Waiting with you,