Outrunning Memories: Disassembling Relationships

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I’m tired of trying to outrun my memories. I am tired of carrying the baggage of broken relationships. I want to accept the past and live my life so that each moment becomes an opportunity to become closer to the person I am meant to be. But I can’t live that way if I am always trying to outrun memories. We tend to try outrunning memories, especially if we have experienced unpleasant incidents, harsh words, disappointment, and the betrayal of broken relationships.

The reality is that many of us have lived, or are currently living, the pain of that kind of life. We carry the heavy burden of broken relationships and hurt feelings, and we don’t know how to move on from that painful place.

All of us have memories from our past. Sometimes those memories are good ones, and sometimes they are not so good. The not-so-good ones are the ones we want to outrun.

Can we forget those unpleasant parts of our lives? Can we drop the heavy baggage of regret? Can we move on and either restore those broken relationships or make peace with the loss of them?

It really is possible. Still, forgetting and forgiving may not be easy to do, especially when the persons who have hurt you are not even seeking forgiveness. It is very hard, if not impossible, to forgive in a vacuum, outside of relationship. And if the person or persons do not want any kind of relationship with you at all, it is not really possible to forgive them. Forgiveness is a relational act and it cannot occur when there is no relationship at all.

What we can do is forgive ourselves and make peace with the past and the memory of the person who harmed us. We can allow ourselves to think of some of the times when the relationship was good, while we spend less time thinking about the part that was so hurtful.

We can begin to look toward the future and not dwell on the past. We can face the future ready to begin again and to trust again. We can face the future ready to believe in ourselves and in our ability to form new relationships. We can allow ourselves to love again and to trust other people with the gift of our friendship.

Can we get hurt again if we do that? Can trust be betrayed again?

Of course, we can get hurt again. Every relationship holds within it the potential for someone to be hurt. That’s just the way we humans are. And a broken heart from a broken relationship or friendship can definitely make us think twice before trusting another person.

I have thought often about the fact that losing old relationships is one way to make way for new ones, perhaps new ones that are meant to be. Maggie Stiefvater says this: “As you learn who you are, you can better surround yourself with friends who make you a better person, and that sometimes only happens when you disassemble old relationships.”

So perhaps it’s okay to be okay with disassembled relationships and to relish in the new friends that have come your way. Perhaps it’s okay to stop trying to outrun our memories, and instead embrace them or file them away. Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp have written a book entitled Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. That’s a great way to look at relationships. They can, indeed, be a mess worth making!

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