The other day I mentioned to a friend that I was pretty sure another close friend of ours had simply stopped liking me and I wasn't sure how to approach it. She responded that it wasn't me, and went on to reveal that this friend has withdrawn from all of her close relationships.
And that is a problem.
Because by the time it is noticeable to friends, it is usually pretty far in the process.
In watching people--especially couples--hit the wall, one of the commonalities is deep hurt (or deep anger) that leads to someone building fortified internal walls a couple of years before the crisis hits. (In some cases it is about decades of walls.) Rather than protecting--what the walls are supposed to do--they isolate. They starve. They leave the person more vulnerable than if they were living their life open and free. Because though we trust the walls to protect ourselves, they separate us from love and being known--the two things we desperately need to thrive. And it pains me to think about how many people we know everyday who are spending their most creative energies on brick and mortar.
Breaking walls takes work. A great deal honesty. Of owning things we wish weren't true. It takes dealing with the pain that caused you to build walls in the first place. And it requires a level of transparency between yourself and God--and others close to you--that feels like you will come undone.
As for my friend, I'm still praying about that one. As John Eldredge so aptly said in his book, Walking with God: Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really....
For you must beware - the very thing you want to speak to is booby-trapped. Just as its counterpart is in you. Booby-trapped in the sense that you can't just walk in and make your observation and expect things to go swimmingly. Of course, there's the usual defensiveness and anger we often meet when lifting the lid on someone's life. But the booby trap is more than that. Quite often the issue is entangled with deep wounds in that person's heart, and what bugs you is, for them, a long-developed and carefully honed defense mechanism. You go poking around in there and the booby trap goes off - shame, anger, withdrawal, self-contempt. And if the enemy has a stronghold there, you'll just wake the guard dog and it will turn on both of you.
This is going to take humility and submission.
Walk with God. When do I bring this up, Lord? What do I say? Then wait for the go-ahead, even if it means months or years. It will take real restraint. Genuine holiness. But what you can rest assured in is this - the issue will come around again. This isn't the only chance you'll have. Pray as soon as you encounter it, but be willing to let it go, no matter how tweaked you are, if that's what God says to do. It will come around again.