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A Question of Grace

I’m going to preface this post with this: It worries me that in today’s society we are so quick to pass judgment and that we collectively group our problems and cast them off on other people. I’ve been very guilty of this in and it’s extremely unhealthy and unfair not only to yourself, but to other people. I was once married and was not a good husband in that marriage, but God changed who I was and I am no longer that person. This isn’t to say that people should go running back to unhealthy relationships, that’s not at all what I mean. In fact, I think it’s a good thing that God gets us out of some relationships especially before marriage. I simply mean to say God can change anyone if they allow Him. My only hope is for everyone to recognize that through Christ we can all have victory over who we once were and over any situation.

 

I recently came across an inspirational quote online that stirred something within me. The quote comes from Heather Lindsey. I’ll admit that I am unfamiliar with who she is or her ministry, but that didn’t mean that I was passing any manner of judgment on her. I simply disagreed with the ambiguity the message behind the quote could derive in some people. The quote is as follows:

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At first glance you’re probably wondering what I could find wrong with what she is saying. When I first read it, it made me feel very unsettled on the inside, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was I taking it too personally having gone through a marriage and a handful of relationships that didn’t work out, or was there something deeper poking at my heart? I took some time this evening to look at it further and tried to biblically find the answers to the questions it posed. I decided to write Mrs. Lindsey to express these concerns and ultimately ask her what her opinion of my questions were. Here is the email I sent to her:

Dear Mrs. Lindsey,

I recently came across an inspirational graphic online attributed to you as a quote about relationships that has left me a bit shaken. The quote I am referring to is this: “If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together. Isn’t crazy how the illusion of a person is amplified when you leave a unhealthy relationship? Then you run back to them out of loneliness & find out.. they are EXACTLY the same. Fill those voids with Jesus, not exes.”

There is so much about this quote that I both agree and disagree with. My first agreement, of course, is that Jesus is the only one fully capable of filling any void left no matter the circumstance. I also agree that far too often people do run back to unhealthy relationships out of desperation over feelings of loneliness or abandonment. I cannot disagree with any of that. Where my concern comes from is the connotation which this quote may be given due to certain ambiguities it has about the definition of an unhealthy relationship. Upon my first reading of the quote, I found it to be very unilaterally biased. Given that not every relationship that comes to an end shares the same cause-and-effect, I feel the quote could provoke a misguided sense of unity for one half and could project feelings of judgment on the other half. The root of what I am getting at is that I do not see any grace within the message you are sending.

In my experience I have known many couples, even myself, that have been in relationships that were considered to be unhealthy for many reasons. In today’s society, when someone hears the phrase ‘unhealthy relationship’, more often than not it will elicit feelings of abuse or neglect. That’s not to say this is the case every time, but we live in a very sinful world and these a very prominent problems that Satan uses to attack relationships, among many others. I realize I may be in the minority by disagreeing with your message, but coming from my own personal experience of having been in relationships that ultimately God did not want for either of us, I felt a sense of judgment wash over me when I read your quote. I asked myself why. Why would I feel judgment? This is the answer I came up with that I wanted to share with you.

As I mentioned before, I strongly feel that the quote lacks a message of grace. When you say: ‘If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together.’ To me, this is pronouncing a sense of false ego that says ‘I’m better than they are’. Romans 3:23 teaches us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. None of us are ‘amazing’ people. Asking ‘If your ex was so amazing’ immediately indicates that we are attributing the ‘amazing’ category for ourselves and should therefore be looked at as such. Two God-fearing, healthy people can both be in an unhealthy relationship, both equally contributing to a problem that is not within the will of God. The only amazing person that has ever walked the earth was Jesus. This isn’t to say that we’re worthless, on the contrary, Romans 3:22 says “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.

This is also in tune with the part of the quote that reads: ‘they are EXACTLY the same’ when you run back to them. Saying this prevents us from doing two things: 1. forgiving them, and 2. acknowledging that Christ has victory over the situation. When a breakup occurs, if it’s done properly, both sides should take that time alone with God and with themselves to reflect upon who they are as individuals and allow God to show them what it was that wasn’t right and why it was not in God’s will for them to be together. We should be thankful that God has gotten us out of an unhealthy relationship, regardless of the circumstance, but we should also spend that time in prayer and ask for forgiveness and forgiving the other person and not assuming they are the same, in effect, creating judgement in our own hearts. It’s true, that some situations call for an immediate release from relationships because of potential dangers or exhaustive efforts to keep it going which hinders the other person, but that is why I feel it is so vital to reevaluate your quote so that it broadens the message that not every relationship is equal. Surely if I am one person that felt judgement from what I read, there has to be many more that might feel the same way and could potentially have wounds that were once healed be reopened, making them believe they are less than what they truly are in God’s sight.

Please know that I am not passing judgement upon you or your ministry. I am simply a fellow believer in Jesus that wanted to share with you my feelings on something I read that caused a stir within my spirit. I would love to hear back from you and to know what your thoughts are.

Have a very blessed day.

Travis Lickey

Like I said in my email to her, perhaps I am very much in a minority with my reasoning behind my concerns, but that’s why I felt it was important to reach out and voice them. We’re all students in God’s world and we’re each taught lessons very differently. We need to be bold enough to ask questions and humble enough to accept the answers. I’m ready to accept that my concerns might not be valid, or that perhaps I should look at them from a different view. Either way, I’m hoping for an email back and I will update this as soon as I receive one back.

Travis