It’s a given. If you are in a relationship, there will come a time when it will be tough. And it’s not always clear what the right thing is to do. If the relationship you are in feels unbalanced, it needs to be addressed (for your sake and for the sake of the one you love).
What about forgiveness? Jesus said we are to forgive seventy times seven. How is it possible to do that? Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things to do. It helps me to remember that the Bible teaches that we will be forgiven to the same extent that we are willing to forgive others. Then I just pray and ask God to get my heart there. I am amazed at what God can do with a heart that is willing to change. He is able to turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. There are times when I have been tempted to disengage from a relationship in order to protect myself. After being hurt by the same person numerous times, it seems like it might be easier to avoid them altogether. But recently I was reminded of how Jesus lived (and died). He knew He would be hurt emotionally and physically by us, but He came anyway. He made Himself completely vulnerable. If we choose to follow in His footsteps, we are bound to be hurt again, but we do so with a heart that is trusting Him to bind up those wounds. Taking a risk to love others well is always worth the effort.
Of course, there are limits to what we are able to do for another. Sometimes we find ourselves in a pattern of doing more for someone than they will do for themselves. That can be damaging to us and to them. When I see that I am near the end of my capacity to help someone, I stop and remember that even Jesus did not heal every person He came into contact with. He took time alone to rest and connect with God. If Jesus did this, how much more do I need to do the same?
You hear a lot about setting boundaries, but what does that look like? I often hear about people setting boundaries when in actuality they are just putting up fences, and running the other way. The biggest challenge is remaining connected without cutting off. Finding that balance for a relationship that has gone awry is often about defining yourself in the relationship, while leaving the other person to do the same. Spend some time thinking about what you are willing to do, and what you are not willing to do. This can be especially helpful if your love is inadvertently hurting someone, by enabling them to continue in addictive or self-harmful behavior. You must ask yourself if you love the person more than the relationship. If you can deny yourself and set aside what you hope to get from the relationship, you might see that the best thing for the other person is to recognize that they could lose you. Nothing could be harder to do, but when all else has failed, the time may come to leverage what you have (the relationship) for the sake of the other. If you can see that their life is in danger if they continue down the path they have chosen, it might be time to make such an ultimatum.
These are big decisions and not to be taken lightly. God knows everything there is to know about your relationship and whether it needs some adjustment. Seek Him. He is ready and waiting to lead you to the next step you should take. He might even lead you to a friend or counselor who can help you to discern what He would have you do.
“When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” Psalm 138:3