It is great when we learn more effective ways of doing things without it “costing” us very much.
It can take my doing something the wrong way over and over before I learn a better way. Those first person repetitive lessons hurt! I prefer learning to avoid life’s train-wrecks altogether with the help of those who have “been there and done that” and already paid the high price of learning.
Recently, for many reasons I have been thinking about some of my meaningful relationships that have deteriorated during my lifetime. In some instances, I wish I could have been better at parting ways. I could have left some situations more amicably and with more grace. There is no doubt that when I found myself at a crossroads, I was encouraged by close influencers to untie from my important relationships rather than cut myself off so drastically.
While on my way to work earlier this week, I heard a great song I hadn’t heard in a long time. It was released in 1989 and was performed by well-known country artist, Clint Black. The song is “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” Listening to it was a great reminder for me.
Although it was written about a romantic relationship turned sour, hearing how the individuals were parting with a sense of gratitude challenged me. I like the man’s perspective in the song, he is determined to keep the right mindset; thankful for the gifts the relationship brought to him:
Still, I’m leavin’ here a better man
For knowin’ you this way
Things I couldn’t do before now I think I can
And I’m leavin’ here a better man
How many times have we walked from a team, a school, a church, a job, or social situation feeling slighted or undervalued? We often seem determined to cast ourselves as either the winner or loser when we leave. We have been conditioned to believe that at the end, both sides can’t leave with a sense of lasting gratitude; each genuinely feeling like they are better for having known each other.
Without question, there will be seasons to our lives. Some chapters last far longer than others but how we close the books on the things we have outgrown says a lot about us. Beginning now, when I make any change in my life, I want to go on living without considering others as friend or foe, winner or loser, for or against me. I have failed at this in the past, making stark judgments and distinctions between my past and future.
Life today is full of change. If we are growing, then we are likely pushing into our edge and outgrowing some opportunities or blessings that just a few years ago felt almost too big for us to handle. As we nurture our individual competencies, we often feel called to transplant ourselves in order to take on new challenges or take deeper plunges. We should remind ourselves that embracing these bigger opportunities needn’t be perceived as a rejection of anyone or anything.
Temporarily, it might feel better to cordon off our lives from what lies behind the closed doors of our past. I am learnng that there is often a huge hidden cost to this emotional isolationism. I know now that my protectionist approach has robbed me of keeping a keen sense of contentment from and connection to my past accomplishments.
I would be far better off maintaining unencumbered emotional access to the things I have built along the way. It would be fun to freely roam the interior and exterior castles to which I have contributed my life force in building. Our journeys are marbled and it can be difficult to separate the life-giving parts from the parts that just sting. Sealing off access to these accomplishments because of pride, fear or resentment might also occlude me from the balm that these “tours of duty” want to afford my soul. I should not allow the tainted exit from an experience to ruin the entire experience.
Interestingly, many of the personal and professional partnerships from which I have broken free, in time proved to be the opportunities for the most growth. Maintaining a connection to the ways in which those opportunities made me a better man is important to providing lasting texture to my life’s canvas. If we are not careful, the damaging value-judgments that persist while in exile can paint us into lonely corners.
It is far better to take the good with the bad and recognize that pain and disappointment can be incredible teachers and signposts. We needn’t seal ourselves off from all of the good we have experienced to stay emotionally safe. It is incredibly life giving to leave certain things behind, head held high, content in the knowledge that everything happens for a reason; trusting that we have learned and contributed exactly what had been designed for us from the very beginning.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!