There is much power which comes as we learn to walk together in unity. I think we all know how truly difficult it is to actually be and stay in unity, though. Deep, intimate relationships require a different commitment than mere acquaintances. Friendships help to sustain us and keep us on track. How we view each relationship kind of tells us a little bit about what we may actually invest into and take away from them. We may find some actually are an ordeal for us because they demand more than we want to really put into them, but does that make them unnecessary relationships? Some may seem like a big deal to us, but does that make them worthy of special attention while neglecting others? Other relationships seem like they are kind of ideal, almost making us want to be exclusionary within those relationships, but doesn't that isolate us from the other types of relationships which might actually help us chip away some of the rough edges in our character? I think we might just need all three!
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 MSG)
While connection is important, reconnection is sometimes more important! I don't believe God wants us to isolate ourselves from those relationships which are kind of an ordeal for us - because they have something within them we need to learn. Relationships which we might classify as an "ordeal" are those which seem to always be extremely severe in their ability to "test" us in some fashion. We actually need this "testing" in order to develop some character trait we might not have developed any other way. To neglect these "severe" relationships is to cut ourselves us from the very thing we need for our growth. So, how do we "reconnect" with someone whose relationship with us has become a big ordeal and with whom we may have chosen to just pull away rather than make the effort to stay connected?
First, I think it takes some real courage to even admit you have pulled away. When two people deal with the "hard" parts of relationship by saying it is too big of an ordeal to actually work on the things pulling them apart, there is an opportunity to allow those "hard parts" to actually smooth off some rough edges in our character. One of the things which drives a wedge between two people quicker than you might imagine is when either of us become defensive in the relationship. When stuff is too hard to deal with at the moment, it is very easy to get a little defensive about our behavior, choices, etc. We might imagine another's focus on something in our lives as a little too intrusive and even a little "nit-picky". Regardless, defenses go us and we get nowhere when these walls just remain in place.
If you don't recognize the "walls" quickly, you will allow them to be reinforced by future actions and responses to behaviors within the relationship. Fear causes us to become defensive - we don't like being exposed, so we build up what we believe will "cover over" the area we feel the most exposed within. Walls might be manifest by being overtly sarcastic with another - allowing the sarcasm to take the focus off the area for just a little bit. Another method of wall-erecting is when we push others away with our anger. Any wall only drives people away - most will not choose to "scale the wall", but will be turned away by it! It is the rare friend who will actually make the effort to scale the wall and a real friend who will help you dismantle it once they get on the other side of that huge wall!
Second, I think dealing with others in relationship requires the ability to see things as the other person sees them. This is why I like the idea of using a friend as a "sounding board" of sorts. I bounce ideas off a friend because the friend actually might just not be seeing things quite the way I do at the moment. Some of us need someone outside of our "box" to help us see there are choices outside of the box we have confined ourselves within. As long as all we can see is the inside of the box, we will never know what the outside holds for us. A friend can help us see things from the outside of the box - giving us perspective we do not possess on our own. Some of the toughest relationships require us to see things outside of our box. If you stop to think about it, a box is really just another set of walls we have established. The walls of a box only serve to confine us - the ability to break free from the confines of seeing things only from your limited perspective is not just healthy, it is wise!
You may not realize this, but when you actually can see things another sees and the way they see them, you are breaking down walls which would have otherwise torn you apart. Part of seeing things the way another sees them is the ability to allow the things which have become "wedge drivers" within the relationship to be removed. Where there is no wedge, the distance between two objects is free to return to being joined again. Just sayin!