Recognizing Dead Ends

dead_endI have walked many roads in my short life. To the point of my entire post I will refrain from specifying each of these roads as part of my personal resistance… resisting my own urges. I have walked with Jesus down most of these same pathways.

I will further admit to being given to emotion. I am the first (and usually only) one in my house to cry at the appropriately sentimental time in a movie. I am the one making the impassioned pleas for more of this or less of that. I am the mercy-showing disciplinarian… at times to my wife’s chagrin. I am a leader and a joiner – that is, I try to lead other people to join together for a common cause.

Frankly I used to be of the opinion that there was only one true brand of Christianity… which (not coincidentally) happened to be the brand that I belonged to at the time. This opinion was held so firmly that there were many people who I then labeled as apostate (or worse) that I now identify as Jesus-followers. I am embarrassed at things I have said in that regard. I have asked some of those same people to forgive me and now am enriched by their friendship.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post entitled The Danger In Rethinking. My wife, my dad, and others who know me best have all said things like, “Are you sure you want to put yourself out there?” If I had my wits about me, I’m sure I would retreat to a quiet place and just keep selling oil (my for real day job). Too few years ago, I probably would have responded to each disparaging post and attempted to explain myself and my positions at every turn. I am learning to recognize dead ends… conversations that will likely serve no Kingdom good. I often wonder if individuals who have questioned some of my most dearly held convictions have taken time to read posts like Where You Start Is Everything… a summary of how I approach issues. Some people don’t want to understand. Some are not ready to understand. Some simply cannot.

The Jesus way is personal. This venue is impersonal. Therefore, at least so far as the blogosphere is concerned, I will keep trying to recognize dead ends. Instead of talking about people I choose to talk to them. And if you truly care about any individual (including me)… perhaps you should do the same.

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7 thoughts on “Recognizing Dead Ends

  1. How do we recognize dead ends with people? Should there be a dead end, for example, when it comes to family? I have received the advice “Just let it go”, but something pushes me to hold on and to keep trying to have a “normal” relationship with my Father. Maybe it really is a dead end. Maybe by continuing to pursue a relationship with him I allow myself to be held in a place of guilt and pain. So, then, why is it so difficult to see that it just might be a dead end? The conundrum for me is that he is on fire for Christ. He helps drug addicts, teen mothers, alcoholics… you name it, but he just can’t, or won’t, connect with me. It hurts. So, how do we recognize when it’s a dead end or to keep trying? I sure wish there was a big yellow road sign like the one in the photo here to let us know.

    1. I’m with you Jennifer, a big yellow road sign would help….although, the “signs” are there and I typically choose to either be frustrated by them or ignore them and then be frustrated because I ignored them.

      Family relationships can be pretty messy. When you see it as a dead end, do you walk away or try building a bridge….and when the bridge is destroyed, how long do you wait to start another one…or do you simply decide “you can’t get there from here” and give up.

      For now, I’m choosing to focus my efforts elsewhere. And just maybe, I’ll stumble across a new in-road to that family relationship in my travels. Until then, I’m going to try to enjoy the journey.

      [I think I’ve taken the allegory a little too far…sorry about that!]

      1. Thank you, Denise. You made a lot of sense. Giving it to God and having faith that He will build the road if he wants me to go there.
        Love in Christ ~Jen

    2. Jennifer, this may feel like a copout answer… but I believe it deeply. I think those answers may be as different as the situations themselves. I have only found one successful way to navigate those often-difficult waters… prayer. Though there is a truly mystical and intangible aspect to the work of the Holy Spirit, there are also many and repeated concrete examples (both in Scripture and modernity) where the Spirit of God directs/guides someone to start or stop or continue a certain activity. So it’s difficult to know when relationships are at a dead end because they deal with real people… often, as you mention, people we love. Do not underestimate the power of prayer in this regard. And don’t let someone else guilt you into (or out of) an answer that they may think is right. The Holy Spirit is big enough to meet us where we are and lead us to where we need to be.

      1. Not a cop out at all, Rob. Thank you. You are right. I have faith that God’s will is always done as long as we are talking to Him and listening. I am all ears, Lord!

  2. Rob, This is a thoughtful and well spoken challenge. What you speak of can be summed up in humility, a spiritual fruit that I often fail to emulate. Thank you for sharing it.

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