They've been together for as long as I've known them. Now he has decided the relationship is over, and she's in an emotional tailspin. The long, turbulent phone calls, the agonizing conversations over coffee, the hard choices as they negotiate their way through dismantling a life together - it's been heart-wrenching for those of us who care about them.
But as I watch this real-life drama unfold, I've been trying hard to draw a line between being a caring, supportive friend and going along for the ride on this emotional roller coaster that they're on. I know there must be a better way to resolve relationship issues.
I find myself thinking a lot about a statement from a book that has helped me get a better grip on my relations with others. The book is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and the author, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience" (page 106).
Just thinking about man (and woman) having an innate, God-given capacity to reason this way through any change or important decision makes me feel more grounded and less susceptible to the winds of passion and unrestrained emotion. Realizing that all of us possess the right of self-government reassures me that we are not helpless to resist the rush of feelings we don't understand, much less control. We can know what's right and do what's right for everyone involved because conscience - not resentment or anger, loneliness or longing - rules.
For my part, reflecting on these ideas has been a form of prayer that has helped me slow down the roller coaster of my own emotions and recognize that God must have a plan for this couple that's wise and caring.
In my prayers, I'm learning to trust that the voice of God (which I think must sound more like the voice of reason than the voice of passion) is a constant presence and that an all-knowing, all-loving God must have ways to make Himself heard over the rushing tide of feelings. I'm reminded of an image that I love from the first book of Kings in the Bible. Elijah was going through an emotional upheaval of his own, and the storms erupting in his thought matched the storms he witnessed in the sky as he looked out from a steep mountain ridge. "A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" (I Kings 19:11, 12).
Unrestrained emotions, like the wind, the fire, the earthquake, are often arbitrary and destructive. That statement from Science and Health also argues that they are not native to our true character as a spiritual idea of God. The still small voice of reason and conscience may be quiet, but it is insistent, and it rings true. So I'm praying to know that it is strong, clear, and compelling enough to make itself heard wherever emotions might be trying to take over.
Will they reconcile? Or if not, will they find a way to part amicably? Time will tell. But I'm determined that, if my friend chooses to cry on this shoulder, she'll find more than sympathy. I hope she'll find a spiritual stillness and trust that give her a moment of refuge from her own stormy thinking. I hope they both can find a way, through God's grace, to rein in their emotions, set aside their hurt feelings, and hear the still small voice assuring them of God's unchanging love for them both.
In quietness and
shall be your strength.