Have you ever been in one of those relationships where you wanted and needed to love someone so badly, but every time you get around them you just wind up arguing and bickering and getting super mad? The buzz word for those kinds of relationships is toxic, and even God had to deal with them. In the first part of Chapter 33, God just draws His boundaries. He says, “Look, I love you guys, but you are so stubborn and idiotic, I just can’t be around you anymore. You make me too angry, and I don’t like to feel that way. Plus, I’m super afraid of what I might do to you in my utter rage.” Sometimes we need to learn when to draw boundaries with others, and we can look at God’s example on how to do that wisely and with love. And just like God did with the Israelites, we need to watch for the reaction of the person we’ve explained things to. Do they get all defensive and start shouting threats and excuses? Or do they remove all their jewels and mourn the loss of a beautiful relationship? Separation from a loved one due to conflict is never easy. Sometimes, like God, we just want to love that other person into resolution, but it just doesn’t work that way, does it? Some people just don’t know how to be loved. Heck, sometimes I don’t know how to be loved! I take many good relationships for granted, and I spent way too many years not drawing proper boundaries in bad relationships. I was only able to learn how to do the latter successfully through chapters like these, where God shows us how to draw boundaries with love. Separation, divorce and arguing for weeks and months are hard battles to fight, and I have felt shamed and condemned for going through them in several different circumstances. Verses like this, however, helped me to overcome that condemnation and work through toxic relationships. Through God’s grace and mercy I am free from those feelings (most days!), and when I do get to feeling down about having gone through those times in the first place, God reminds me that even He faced these struggles. Even He had toxic relationships! If you’re facing a similar struggle, look to God’s example: draw boundaries through love, and wait for a response, and as always, pray, and seek help and wisdom from those you trust.
I meant to address God and Moses’ relationship in the last chapter, when Moses was able to talk God down from destroying the entire Israelite race and starting all over – again. Talked. God. down, Moses did! I just adore their friendship. It’s chapters like these where we can see God’s human side. We can see ourselves made in His image. We can see how Jesus could live among us. We can see how Adam and Eve were curious about what they might understand after eating a fruit from a tree that possessed “the knowledge of good and evil.” Ok, maybe it was just me that was going that deep with this, but I do love how God “hangs out” with Moses, and we learn in verse 11 that Moses isn’t God’s only companion and confidante: Joshua gets some solo time with God as well. We don’t really know why yet (no spoilers!), but God and Joshua are certainly having some monumental man-to-man, coming-of-age talks. Oh, to be a fly on that tent wall! I got a little confused in the last section of this chapter when God says Moses can’t see His face. Yet, in verse 11, “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face.” So hiding Moses in the rock and protecting him from seeing God’s face doesn’t really make sense to me. I thought maybe the “you” in this case could be the Israelites as a whole, so I read the last paragraphs and pretended that God was passing in front of all the Israelites. That didn’t really work, but it didn’t NOT work. Haha. Anyway, I still don’t understand the juxtaposition here, but I can add it to my list of questions to ask Jesus and be satisfied with knowing that I will get the answer one day.
Writing prompt: detox
I think as I get older I am learning more to speak up for myself, draw boundaries, weed out the sticker patches, but I do struggle with a few relationships. Had I known in my 20s, though, what I have learned just in the last 10 years, I could have saved myself and a lot of other people considerable heartache. No matter your age, write about a toxic relationship that either needs to be sprayed with a good weed killer or was plucked up by the root a long time ago.