There are many relationships that we will have in our lives that we should learn to rely on less, to the point where they become mostly if not wholely unneeded. That is to say, we can make it on our own without close guidance. This is what it means for someone to become superfluous in a relationship. This does not necessarily mean that we discontinue the relationship, but it is more of a relaxing of the other person’s intense responsibility to and for us. We grow up.
I have recently been challenged with the idea that many of us should be attempting to become superfluous in many of our relationships. First, let’s think of some obvious relationships that are just supposed to end, and quite frankly would be weird if they didn’t. I think many of us would count it strange if our plumber kept coming over every week to check on our plumbing, just to see if any issues popped up. We would often prefer not to see the police, or firemen everyday. There are just some people with whom we would prefer not to have to carry on a relationship.
Some relationships are not so clear cut. These are the one’s that we tend to lean on quite a bit more then we ought to, and often they would prefer us to. In this list is teachers, conunselors, pastors, disciplers, and parents, among others. At first we may think that those on this list should never become superfluous, and agreeably most of them never should entirely. The problem is if these individuals are not taking steps to ween those reliant on them to be less so, then if ever there comes a time they cannot be there, the reliant person will find himself and his situation to be hopeless. There is something to be said for growing and maturing.
Think about it. What if your teacher never let you grow beyond their scope of knowledge? What if your counselor never helped you completely get past your problems, or at least to a level where you could operate without them? What if your pastor only ever gave you spiritual milk, and never gave you anything else? What if your discipler never let you move past them to train disciples of your own? What if your parents never let you be more than the all dependant child that they used to know? What if Christ never sent out His disciples to live and be on their own?
We need to be set free. We need to know that someone trusts us to be and do what we are supposed to do. It is good to have someone to lean on, and certainly Christ will never truly leave us. But we are allowed to be who we are in Christ, so why should anyone else prevent our development? One might see it like a tree that is being braced by wire and poles. To a certain point that tree is being supported. Past that point it is being hindered. And eventually, if not removed or loosened, the wire will become part of the tree. This is ideal with God; His support eventually causes Him to become part of us, but this is only slightly desirable with the other relationships from above.
It should be our hope that all of the relationships we find ourselves in, we are growing and helping others to grow. If we find this not to be the case, it is time to begin to think of addressing the issue. In most cases this would mean that there should be a distancing or separation of one type or another.
Until next time, may God bless you with healthy and edifying relationships.