On my way to work this morning my cup of coffee got jarred and spilled all over. I was frustrated! The cup was sticky and now I had a mess to clean up on top of it. I stopped the car and poured out the rest of the coffee onto the side of the road, I just didn’t want to have to deal with it spilling anymore.
As I continued down the road it got me thinking about relationships. How often in life do we have something that makes us feel warm, comfortable, happy, give us energy, in general just brightens our day, maybe even our life. Like our morning coffee, we often hold it gently between our hands and sip and savor the goodness. We routinely fill it back up and always make sure it stays warm. But then something happens and it jars us. Some of that warmth and happiness spill out onto the side and becomes sticky. Often times this comes in the form of a mistake, a misunderstanding, or harsh spoken words. All things that can be cleaned up. They may leave things a bit sticky for awhile, but eventually it will be washed and though you’ll remember it, it won’t be “sticky” anymore.
But how often are we just too afraid to deal with the potential of more coffee spilling. Having a bigger mess to clean up, potentially all over our clothes and then people can SEE the mess we’ve created. So we just stop and discard of whatever is left of the coffee.
How often do we just discard a friendship or relationship because it got a little sticky and we are too afraid to be vulnerable and deal with the issues. Just like spilled coffee, most situations can be dealt with.
I could have drank a little more of the coffee and held it differently on the way to work, to prevent it from spilling everywhere again. Cleaned up the mess and reheated it, still able to enjoy the warmth and happiness my morning coffee brings me. But instead I didn’t want to deal with the potential problems that would have arose from keeping that sticky, spilling coffee in my car another second, so I quickly discarded it.
In our relationships, we may need to take a moment and be quiet and still, determine how much grace we are able to allow the situation, and when we are ready, deal with the stickiness of the situation. Too often we react to the situation immediately, saying or doing things that can’t be undone or that just make the stickiness worse. Instead after we have had some time to think things through, determine the actual impact this situation would have on the future of our relationship with this person, and set clear boundaries within our own heart for future spills, we can often clean up the mess quickly and not have to discard it.
Not every situation can be cleaned up. Some will cross your boundaries in a way that you may not be able to move on from. But for all those things that bring us warmth and happiness, we at least owe it to ourselves to take a moment and think before we quickly react and discard it for good. Once you’ve reacted, said words out of the initial hurt or anger, its just like my coffee on the side of the road, it can’t be put back into the cup, it will never be the same cup of coffee again.