We’ve all had it: relational pain.
Angry words. Intentional oversight. Passive aggression. Triumphant emails. Ended friendships.
Whether you are naturally wired to pursue confrontation or avoid it, the end result is the same — a relationship that had been at the core of your life now removed from it.
I was speaking with a friend this week about this phenomenon and together we realized the best way to prevent such relational pain: avoid intimacy in the first place.
Think about it. If you never connect deeply with people and never allow them to connect deeply with you, then you dramatically reduce the risk of having your feelings hurt and your friendships end.
If you prefer to be admired rather than known, then people can appreciate the persona you create and the façade you present . . . and you’ll never play or lose the high stakes game of relationship.
Because, really, the choice is pretty clear.
Experience intimacy and open yourself up to pain.
Sacrifice intimacy and prevent pain.
Many times, I choose the second option. For the sake of personal equilibrium and for the chance to present my “best self” to the church and the world, I often opt to prevent pain by sacrificing intimacy.
Yet there’s another way to look at it. That “pain prevention” of sacrificed intimacy is really an anesthetic. And what do anesthetics do? They prevent pain by putting you to sleep.
In other words, if you consistently choose to prevent pain by sacrificing intimacy, you’ll sleepwalk your way through life. You’ll miss out on that thrilling, raw, messy part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus: living his life in community with other members of his body.
This week, I’m going to go against my natural instincts and do what I can to experience intimacy. There may be pain in the end, but at least I’ll be awake.
Maybe you can join me.