This does not describe people and relationships!
No one has it all together. People are messy. Relationships are even messier. Any two or more individuals will encounter struggles and tensions as they navigate life and work together. When I was in my early days of leadership, someone I cared about, respected and thought was almost above reproach, made some choices that were rather shocking. I experienced disillusionment and anger. I was left reeling for awhile. How could someone so right could get it so wrong? Was this how all people were? Was integrity a fairytale? I found myself faced with a choice. I could allow disillusionment to make me hardhearted or I could work through my disappointment and hurt. By working through the hurt, I discovered that I became a stronger person. Through that situation, I learned several key things.
1. Each of us is one choice away from disaster. A simple thought can turn into an action and then multiple actions which can hurt and devastate many people. There is tremendous power in knowing that the choices we make today can keep us from going in the wrong direction and hurting people. By reminding ourselves of this principle, it keeps us from having a judgemental spirit, because, we too, are just one choice away from making our own greatest mistakes. The power is in making that right choice and surrounding ourselves with the right people, values and protections to make the right choices.
2. Get dirty. People are messy. Relationships are high risk. We love, we get involved, we will get hurt. The hurt we experience can become stepping stones towards a strong relationship if we deal with and talk about the messy stuff. Work through the issues. Don’t dodge the tough conversations. Some of my deepest friendships are between people who have worked through some very difficult issues together. They stayed the course! You can do it too!
3. Adjust expectations and communicate them to the people we are in relationship with. Often when people let us down, its because they are not meeting our expectations. More often than not, we have not communicated these expectations clearly. It’s shocking how much we expect of people – even our families. We assume they know exactly what we want and expect of them. It’s worth the time to stop and clarify things!
4. Don’t burn bridges when things happen that are difficult. People will let us down. We will be disappointed, but let’s not give up on the person who hurt us. Keep the doors open for the future. We never know what life brings. We can move onward with a peaceful spirit when we know we handled a situation in a right and honourable way.
5. We are made for relationship. It’s are part of who we are. Embrace it. You may have been hurt one time too many and feel that it just isn’t worth the risk. It is. A friend of mine recently suggested we cover our heart with a thin layer of clear protection. We can be vulnerable, but stay protected.
Messy can become beauty. Nothing is as delightful as watching a small child laugh as they dip their hands into finger paint and create a masterpiece. It’s horribly messy, but truly beautiful to watch, to experience and to keep. The people in your life are like that. They are horribly messy, but so worth the keeping! Work through the issues. Dare to love past the hurts. Embrace the growth that happens. Then, cherish the masterpiece of the relationship!