Tuesday, September 18 , 2018, 11:17 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 
Faith

Jim Langley: Relationships Are Risky Business

As a child, we moved every few years during my dad’s military career. Like most young boys, I quickly learned to avoid close friendships, since I knew they would soon end once my dad took his next assignment.

Gradually, I developed a defense mechanism to keep from being hurt by the potential loss of friendships. I imagine many kids faced this same challenge acted likewise. After a while you simply learn to not get too close, thereby reducing the possible pain.

Once my dad retired, I still found myself limiting the number of kids I let get close. Psychologically, I had not developed the coping skills to properly embrace friendships. Relationships are risky business.

As a 12 year old, I finally developed some friendships through organized baseball. The depth of those relationships was still limited and, once the season was over, I’d revert back into my shell.

Even during my college years I limited my socializing to other athletes as we shared rooms and activities in the athletic dormitory. Most of my energy went into studies and sports.

I first truly opened my eyes to normal relationships as a young second lieutenant in the Army. You could say that I was a bit slow in maturing.

Upon returning from Vietnam as a 24-year-old captain, I was finally ready to move on with my life and take some risks socially. Within a few months I impulsively married and focused on my military career. Five years later, I had left the service and went through a bitter divorce.

I had no regrets and had come to understand that I needed to take risks to live life fully. Success in the business world allowed me to thrive in a second marriage that, unfortunately, failed as well after nearly five years of bliss. I had now become more sensitive to relationships and understood that I could only control my part of each friendship formed.

Through it all, I now consider the first 40 years of my life to have been quite superficial. I had become hardened in both my personal and business relationships. Perhaps you can relate to my dilemma.

That’s when I fortunately first experienced a special relationship that would change my whole outlook on life. I’m so thankful that I accepted an invitation one Sunday to attend a small church in Ontario many years ago. I had been far away from any organized religion since graduating from college.

During those years, I distanced myself from God. Now I was being coaxed by God to come near to Him and His people. The personal relationship I experienced has changed my outlook forever! There was no risk in this relationship, since I came to understand that Christ had already done all the work in His death and resurrection. All I needed to do was accept what He had accomplished on the cross.

Janet and I first met within that small church family a few months later. Within less than a year, we were married and I must say that I’ve never been closer to anyone.

Once I had the right relationship with God, I found it easy to let down my guard and give my heart to my future wife. We’ve gone through the tough times together, but I wouldn’t change anything we’ve experienced.

All is well and relationships are now an critical part of my life. I look forward to God continuing to build many meaningful relationships where I can be a blessing to others.

I’m often encouraged by the words penned in Hebrews 10:24-25 as the author relates “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

How are you doing in your relationships? Have you experienced emptiness in your life? I know God wants us to all have a closer walk with Him as Enoch experienced in the early days of the patriarchs.

He wants us to experience His love and pass it on. Please join me in loving others as Christ loves us!

Passages to Ponder

» Genesis 5:21-24

» Romans 5:1-5

» 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

» 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

» Colossians 1:21-23

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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