The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Jeremiah 18:1-4
As I write this post, I am enjoying some vacation time with the younger of my two adult daughters. Just a couple of days into the vacation, I had already observed at least a half dozen things she used to like which are no longer important to her. She has changed. She is an adult now. But my mind is flooded with memories of her as a child. The truth is, we both have changed…and our relationship has changed as well. It has become an adult friendship. Oh, I will always be her Dad. But still, it is a very different relationship today than it was 20 years ago, and that is a good thing. Our relationship is in a whole new chapter, and it should look different.
Relationships are like that. Sometimes a particular season of a relationship runs its course and it is time for a whole new chapter. Parent/child relationships are like that. Moreover, sometimes a particular relationship can be so toxic, so unhealthy, it needs to be radically changed, almost like starting all over again. Some co-dependent relationships are like that. And still other relationships in our life can be so damaging to us that they just need to be scratched entirely. Like a potter with his clay, something entirely different is needed.
The point is, not every relationship is a good one. And even of those which are keepers, not all of them are good for us in their current state…they need to change. As I have contemplated this passage in Jeremiah this week, it has occurred to me that somebody out there may just need to hear this.
In today’s church culture, with all the talk about boundaries and pastoral relationships, there is a tremendous amount of guilt for every church leader as he/she contemplates the relationships in his/her life. Believe me, there is more than enough guilt to go around. But in the midst of all that guilt is a word of great news…when it comes to relationships, do-overs are acceptable. Don’t be afraid to start all over again, if that is what it takes to reshape a relationship into something which honors the Lord. There is no reason to feel trapped in a relationship that is killing you. You have complete control over half the relationship. Use it to shape that relationship into something good.