Inequitable Relationships – (my nemesis!!)

 “We see people not as they are, but as we are”. 

Donating LoveFor some reason this keeps staying with me. Except for me, it might be more of a “I hope from people, not from what they give, but from what I would have given to them.”. ”   …(and when they fall short it kiiiiilllllllssss me).  I guess to put it another way, I hope for a reciprocated exchange of love.  It doesn’t feel fair otherwise!  Love isn’t like some bunch of outgrown clothes I annually clean out of my closet  and detachedly throw into some donation bin – love is something I give with intention and thoughtfullness. 

I feel like I am going through a season of disconnect.  There are relationships in my life that feel dispassioned and severed.  I’m not sure yet if this is an intentional time of refurbishing and making space, or if it’s just happenstance. What I will purposely insert in this season however, is an opportunity to reflect and digest.  Maybe go inside and see what’s coming up for me during this time.

Identifying and responding to people’s needs doesn’t always feel like rocket science to me.  Having a heart for people’s feelings and supporting them in ways that are validating and meaningful to them, doesn’t always feel super hard to identify.  Yes, I’m not perfect, I’m not trying to blow myself up here, and am keenly aware of how selfish I can be sometimes, and the millions of times I have fallen through for people.  I mean it’s not easy.  It’s definitely not convenient.  Loving people and committing to relationships is not black and white.  It means doing inconvenient things like being there for people when they need you, showing up for them when you don’t feel like it, going that extra mile when you already have a full plate.  And for me, it sometimes feels unreciprocated  - and it are those unreciprocated times that eat away at me (don’t get me wrong, I am immensely thankful for the handful of gracious people in my life that know me, get me and make me feel unconditionally loved).

So what’s up with that?  For some reason, lately, I feel less of a patience with that inequity in relationships.  I feel less tolerance and space for it.  The people that are quick to accept my apologies without offering their own. The ones who get defensive without checking their own actions.  Sure, at different times in my life, it was okay to feel “less loved” by people that I loved dearly. It was okay to not feel the extra mile from people I was walking miles for.  At one time it was okay to lend ears to people always wanting to share their details without ever really knowing details of my own, or showing up for them when they went MIA on me. 

Is it better to break relationships that feel inequitable? Is it better to allow the distances and disconnect to grow? Or if I try and bridge the gaps, what does that look like without me having to feel like a doormat, or me just absorbing the deficit?  I guess in broader terms, what does this brokenness need?

The answer that comes to mind is Grace.

Not wilful blindess, not victimized acceptance, not pretend forgiveness or vengeful payback  – no one needs to be the villain, no one needs to be the martyr….I guess relationships and just people in general are constantly in need of Grace.

In an passage authored by Mary Fairchild she states: “When we experience God’s grace, we receive favor that we do not deserve. When we experience God’s mercy, we are spared punishment that we do deserve”

Interesting food for thought, how do we extend grace, and how do we extend mercy? How can I extend either without feeling shorted or like I am being taken from? How do you create boundaries with people without judging them? Oh wait, maybe this ends from where I started:

I had started at: I hope for a reciprocated exchange of love.

Maybe the truth underlying my statement above is that it’s not hope. Maybe I’m not “hoping” for people to reciprocate, maybe I actually expect them to.  So maybe the statement ought to read, “I expect a reciprocated exchange of love” or put more simply, I expect people to love me the way I have loved them.  But even in just saying that, I recognize the inherent problem in that.  I can’t personally love on demand.  I can’t love just by virtue of being asked to.  I love, because that’s what’s in me to give. How then could I ever ask for a reciprocal exchange? It’s like an impossible measure.  What if one person’s love is quick forgiveness.  Or what if another  person’s expression of love is intimate sharing.  Perhaps somebody’s love might be expressed by remembering a person’s details or silent prayer. I guess there is no one universal measure of love to ultimately check off or determine how much love we give, and how much love we have received in return.  And maybe that feeling of inequity is stemming from the unreasonable expectation that there is.  But when scrutinized, proves the impossibility.  Maybe that’s why Gary Chapman had identified the 5 different love languages, because love is expressed in many different forms, and maybe he only scratches the surface. 

So maybe it’s in this unknown space of immeasurable love, that we give grace and mercy to the moments where it feels inequitable – and maybe hope, that in the long run, it is all reciprocated, in some form or another – Maybe we just believe that we get back what we give, and at the end of the day it’s all a wash…and it’s all love.


Ted and I 2017J and I April 2017


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