Doing a thorough spring-cleaning on a relationship that might need a little dusting off is a lovely thing to do. Both of you – or all of you if you have a tribe that needs attention, get to feel appreciated; happy and valuable. In fact, the sprucing up an otherwise ‘good’ (or ‘not so bad’) relationship is a lot like getting a manicure before you break a nail and really need one. I’m not saying it’s not important or productive to clean it up. It is! No one should be taken for granted. We all deserve to be valued. Personally, I feel great when my nails are freshly done. And I get a little giddy when I actually get a manicure before I desperately need it. Still, it’s not like fixing a broken leg, is it?
It’s those damaged and broken relationships that concern me the most. It’s not just the ones that need a little attention, but the ones that may not even BE repairable! I’m guessing you have one or two in your life right now (I know I do!). We all have a relationship or two that went bad. Might have been a misunderstanding. Could have been a major screw-up. Might even have been precipitated by a divorce or even death. In any case, you know the kind of relationship I’m talking about. Once it was… now it isn’t… and maybe one or both of you aren’t happy about that.
A friendship and, well, any relationship, takes time and effort to develop. So it stands to reason that if seriously damaged, it will also take time and effort to repair. Rebuilding trust is no easy task. And, maybe it’s not supposed to be. If it’s difficult will we appreciate it more? Could be. Some relationships are worth it.
Attempting to repair a damaged or broken relationship by doing some simple dusting and light cleanup just won’t cut it. I learned that years ago when I attempted to do a superficial clean up on one. I ended up getting slapped in the face – almost literally! A one-time best friend and I dissolved our business partnership over a disagreement about integrity. I didn’t think she had any!
After almost a year of angry silence she called and asked me to do her a favor. I was surprised and pleased. I thought that this meant we could friends again. (I didn’t really trust her, but she was really fun to hang out with…) We didn’t talk about the past. We didn’t do any repair work. I drove for almost an hour to meet her and do this big ‘friendship-fixing’ favor. That was my contribution to the repair of our very broken relationship. I actually-and smugly- thought I was doing a lot. She nodded when she saw me, but neither smiled nor spoke. Guess that should have been a clue. With a smile, I handed her the papers she’d asked me to write and extended my hand in friendship. She took the papers and spat on my outstretched hand, turned and walked away.
In that moment my mind was flooded with questions… What was I thinking? Did I really believe that my gesture would work as even a band-aid on our badly broken relationship? Was it even possible to restore our friendship? Did I even want to be friends with someone who would spit on me? Yuck! Was it worth the time and energy or was this a relationship that just needed to be over? And, if it could be patched up, how could that be done?
There are so many things to consider when a relationship goes wrong. What is my responsibility in the matter? Is it repairable? Do I want to keep this person in my life (physically, spiritually OR emotionally)? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to ‘fix’ this? What will it take to fix this?
Relationships are like shoes…
They last longer if we take good care of them.
It works well to polish and clean them regularly.
Some are so special to us that we repair them if they break.
Some we throw away.