Relationships: Regret to Relentless

I am terrible at developing and maintaining relationships and friendships.

It’s one of my life’s biggest regrets. I’m so ashamed at my own sinfulness when I think of past relationships that ended poorly, I failed to cultivate, or I simply was too ignorant or selfish to begin. I truly wish that things had turned out differently.

Age has certainly matured me spiritually and relationally a bit, but as I strive to not repeat the mistakes of my past, I’m finding that it’s a struggle. Relationships take work, especially at my age, when they always seem to be in a state of flux.

I try to find out more about a person, their passions, and what makes them tick, but no matter how hard I try, the sentiment is not reciprocated, and I feel like I’m speaking into a vortex. Or in the case of my church (which, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love), where there are more songs in a Sunday worship set than there are single young-ish careers like myself in the congregation, a fellow single guy will come, start attending and serving, and just when I’ve started to build a good rapport and friendship, he suddenly leaves, and I feel like I’m back to where I started.

It gets discouraging. It gets lonely. I get tempted to give up on community. I sometimes feel like giving into my introverted tendencies and completely disappearing into the superficial, artificial spheres of social media and online dating.

But whenever I start to grow weary of doing good, I remind myself of God, who relentlessly has and still does, pursue me. Psalm 23:6 says that “surely goodness and mercy will רָדַף [pursue] me all the days of my life.” This in spite of the fact that I did not only fail to reciprocate His pursuit of me, and not only did I abandon Him, but it was because of my sin that Christ gave up His very life by being nailed to a cross. I have a God who has not, and will not give up on me, even when I desert Him.

Surely goodness and mercy will רָדַף me all the days of my life

Psalm 23:6

Perhaps you can relate, and relationships are also a struggle for you to keep. I hope that I can offer some encouraging thoughts to ponder as we strive through this, by the power of the Holy Spirit and through prayer:

Don’t give up. Keep praying for others. Keep encouraging. Keep expressing that you want to invest in a person’s life. We can’t control who comes and who goes in our lives, who requites and who becomes indifferent, but we can choose how to show love and care for them as Christians. And God sees this.

Know that relationships will come and go and change. People will come, and people will move away. If you’re single like me, you’ll get friend-zoned. Christians will sin against one another and fellowship will be broken. It’s discouraging, but it’s a reality of life this side of heaven. Take heart, knowing that we have a God who never changes and will never leave or forsake us.

Invest in those who are already in your life, no matter who they are. Being at a church chock-full of couples and families has caused me to re-evaluate how I view relationships. They are who God has brought into my life for such a time as this, and they are the ones that God has called me to love, serve, and grow in relationships. Granted, I won’t find a spouse this way, and there will be conversations related to marriage and parenting that will fly right over my head, but these investments are so valuable. I’ve discovered that they are also actually very meaningful to the couples and families that you pursue. And God honors this.

Pray and take comfort from the truths of Scripture. God hears and cares. He knows and feels our anxiety, pain, and loneliness. His Word says that “His consolations cheer [our] soul” (Ps. 94:19), that “for those who love God, all things work together for the good” (Rom. 8:28), that He “is with [us] always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26). “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Ps. 73:5). You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3). And God is true to His word.

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