Estrangement from others is a sad reality for many people. One of the most painful experiences a parent can have, for example, is to be rejected by an adult child who appears to want nothing to do with them. When a person consciously decides to remove themselves from the life of another, there may be a certain smugness involved. The person leaving may decide one day, that for whatever reason, they cannot be around an old friend, neighbor, co-worker, spouse, child, sibling, parent or other family member.
The reasons this happens are as diverse as the individuals involved. Sometimes there was a very close relationship in the past, and something happened that created distance. This may have happened either slowly over time or rather suddenly, but once that distance was created, it solidified into estrangement. Or, the relationship was never as close as it could have been, and the gap just kept getting wider, until there was no relationship at all. Other times, there seems to be no explanation at all for the estrangement, it is sudden and painful, like a ragged razor searing the heart.
If you are estranged from someone in your family or social circle, and the estrangement is their choice rather than yours, you are probably feeling rejected. Rejection is a powerful emotion that can lead to all sorts of defensive behavior, which in turn can further alienate the rejecting person. If someone has chosen to have little or no contact with you, it’s important to acknowledge any painful feelings associated with that. Often when we are hurt, we resort to anger, resentment or vengefulness. But these are indicators of unacknowledged sadness, loss and grief. While it may seem a good idea at the time, and perhaps serve as a punishing mechanism, it is best to avoid lashing out.
If you are one who feels they must break away–think about the ramifications first, as it is never a smooth and equitable plan to remove yourself from another person’s life. The best method to handling problems is to hash it out–be it in person, on the phone, or in the form of a letter. However you decide to do it, trying to mend fences, is the adult and Christian thing to do.
Too many times, in an effort to punish the estranged, others are caught in the crossfire. It is painful and uncomfortable to watch grandchildren deprived of relationships with their grandparents, nieces and nephews deprived of their aunts and uncles, and of course, the relationships between siblings and friends are often fractured as well.
No one wins and no good can come of purposefully removing oneself from the life of another–there is only long lasting grief, sadness and pain.
Matthew 18:15-17 tells us:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he doesn’t listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Additionally, harboring ill will against someone may in fact, rebound against you. Chances are, you have been forgiven, loved and prayed for by the one you have alienated, and the hatred inside your soul will simply erode your own heart.
Proverbs 15:20-22 states:
“Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
Please, make a point to forgive and reunite with an estranged one before it is too late. Today is a good day to reach out!