On the Corner

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Cut off

by Robert Docter – 

Love disappears in slow motion.

The young woman wandered away silently, very gradually—absenting herself from family gatherings with increasing frequency until, it seemed, she had disappeared. Where once she had been a vital member, she now isolated herself. Where once she had belonged, now she was separate. Where once she had been close, now she was distant, alone, going her own way. Once, she had melded her desire for independence with a maturity that maintained membership, but now that autonomy, once gained, was buried by disengagement. She no longer called—no longer sent birthday cards or Christmas greetings. Feelings of attachment no longer delivered warmth. Now, she felt only cold pain.

She had chosen to cut herself off from those who shared her name. And in the process those once described as “family” now reciprocated with their own cut-off messages.

She abandoned once cherished values because of their source, now dishonored in her mind. She chose a new lifestyle and lived it—one completely different from that lived by those she blamed.

It had all started with a misunderstanding that no one had handled effectively. There had been strong feeling, reverberating accusations, allegations of blame, imposition of guilt—and then, most viciously, the absence of communication. At the time it had seemed like a minor problem, but when contaminated by mutual refusal to seek clarification, to maintain communication, to search for explanation—the level of the conflict had escalated and the quality of the relationship had deteriorated. Hurt became anger and screened any rational meaning from reality. The connections between the parties became seriously damaged, and then, as the shadows of time
enveloped them, they were destroyed.

Most seem unable to remember the event that triggered the change in relationships. It has been lost in the quagmire of ineffective management. Now, the memory traces are saturated with misperceptions, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities.

Time has soothed the pain, but unexplained cues awaken it. All involved feel heavy, emptiness—spaces filled only with ache. Each copes in different ways. All appear to seek a remedy, but each believes the responsibility resides with the other.

People wander away from church families in the same slow, silent manner—cut off, ignored, judged. Once they were there, and now they’re not. Once they were active, and now they’ve disappeared. Too often, it begins with relationships gone sour. Someone inexplicably delivers a large package of hurt—or makes a judgment about another’s child—or criticizes an effort—or condemns someone to eternal damnation. People stop talking—not even making eye contact—abandonment describes the consequences.

Often it’s little more than unchecked misunderstanding. Some-times it’s simply a poor choice of words. If confronted poorly, defensiveness raises its ugly head, and what had once been a scrape now is an open sore as loud voices or quiet muttering ooze their bloody residue from wounds laid bare, ignored to fester unbandaged, no caring evident, grace absent.

People cut themselves off from God as well. They judge him inadequate. They ridicule him in their conversation. They conclude him to be uncaring. Gradually, that “let-down” feeling begins to shift their belief system, and what once had been constructive doubt now boils over into non-belief.

God, however, will never let us go—even while allowing us complete freedom to choose to love him or not. He never gives up. He’s always available. He always understands. He tells us when we hurt him, and if we seek continuing communication with him, he will answer. He’s never public in his disappointment in our choices, and his grace is never absent and also, never ending. He’s inescapable. You see—he knows what love really is. He invented it.



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