On September 23, 1846, the world was introduced to Neptune. All we new at first was that the eighth planet in our solar system existed. Over years – well over a century, in fact – the more time and technology astronomers invested in the exploration of Neptune, the better we got to know her. We discovered she had a moon (Triton). Then more moons. We figured out that one Neptune year is roughly equal to 165 Earth years. Then, in 1989, we were able to encounter her closely via Voyager 2. We found her to be a beautiful blue hue. Drawing nearer, we found her to be very stormy, with winds that exceed 1200 M.P.H. We discovered her exact chemical makeup. Rings, first thought to exist in the 1960’s, were confirmed by Voyager 2’s visit. We even got to know her “children” (her moons), discovering her largest (the aforementioned Triton) to be volcanic.
Relationships are built in much the same way. We meet people and get to know a little surface level information about them. We invest time and treasure in developing the relationship. After some distance, as we draw closer to one another, we discover deeper truths about each other. We find common threads that connect us. We truly get to know one another.
Warts and all.
This is where relationships get tricky. As we grow together, we discover the icy aspects of our friends. We find out what makes them tick, both good and bad. There are great times together and tough times together. And, sometimes, relationships get rocky. Disagreements and misunderstandings arise. But – if love is truly present in the relationship – what stays at the forefront of our minds is not the poisonous atmosphere, not the storms and gales, not the volcanic eruptions. We remember the beautiful blue hue, what attracted us to the other person in the first place. We remember our common thread – even if the only common denominator we hold is Christ. We understand that they are no more perfect than we ourselves are. We are quick to forgive. Even when we feel we are right, have been wronged and have every reason to hold a grudge, we need to remember what Jesus said to Peter:
‘Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’ – Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)
The message is simple: love one another. As Sara Groves sings, “In the end of your lives your relationships are all you’ve got.” They are worth the investment. They are worth the travel, no matter the distance to be spanned, to fortify and repair and deepen.
Is there somebody you need to forgive? Do it. Swallow your pride. Let go of the anger. Let go of the hurt feelings. Let Christ be your guide. It doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be hurt or taken advantage of again. But never, never – never – allow bitterness and disagreement and misunderstanding undermine or destroy your relationships. Let Christ lead.
Relationships can be messy. But, instead of wallowing in bitterness, be understanding. Bear one another’s burdens. Love one another.
Love one another.