Among countless analogies in the vast myriad of relationship books that I've read, a few stay with me. One of them—(and if you recognize the source, please refresh my memory)—likens relationships to a bank account. In this comparison, all the goodness and love shown to another person is like a deposit toward the relationship, while negative words and actions are a withdrawal. As I recall, the goal is to keep the account well in the black, never permitting the account balance to fall into a dangerous condition of being overdrawn.
Perhaps my years in banking and banking school give me a dim view of this concept. While I certainly appreciate the fact that positive needs to outweigh negative (in both banking and relationships), I also know that a checking account is technically called a DDA, or "demand deposit account." Unlike an investment certificate or bond with a maturity date, a bank account holds deposits for safekeeping, but must relinquish them immediately upon "demand."
If anything forebodes certain injury to a relationship, it is making a demand for that to which one feels entitled.
" 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.' "
~ Matthew 25:27 (NKJV)
Perhaps relationship is better likened to an investment in business or stocks than a demand deposit account. Investment expects a return, but has no guarantee of it. Rather than arbitrarily deposit money, one must thoughtfully consider where money is placed, maintain diversity of investment, and watch closely for when a change in strategy is indicated. Money simply deposited in an account gives its owner an expectation to receive back only what's given, and perhaps some nominal interest. But with investment, the expectation is to receive a much greater return than the capital; the dream is to reap a windfall.
With investment, however, one also runs the risk of losing everything. Bankruptcy has a way of taking away even more than the capital. The stock market crash of 1929 precipitated The Great Depression. Relationship crash also tends to bring on great depression.
We spend years and decades and entire lifetimes pouring love and prayers, positive words and deeds, our very selves into close relationships. And we have every expectation of a good return—every dream of eternal harmony. Whether that relationship is marriage or parent-child, family or friendship, we each have special people in our lives who have received our thoughtful investment of time and energy, diversity in loving words and actions, and close watch through life's changes.
When we invest in relationships this way, we usually do reap a healthy return.
But sometimes, bankruptcy strikes. The relationship crashes, and we see everything lost. We may be able to pinpoint where we've been negligent, assuming our initial investment would cover it. Or we may perform a careful examination and remain stunned that our steady attention failed to overcome unavoidable mistakes by imperfect people. The signs of relationship crash may have been steadily growing, or a single disaster can wreak havoc.
However relationship crash comes, depression follows because of the perception that all is lost.
"Gather together the remaining broken pieces, in order that nothing might be lost."
~ John 6:12
As I've said before, Jesus is a capitalist. He speaks often of money, and clearly demonstrates that God will obtain a return on His many investments in us, one way or another. He allows nothing to be wasted, not even the broken pieces.
The broken pieces of our lives are sometimes related to losses of health and wealth. But relationship crash shatters us as nothing else, bringing on the notion that our investment has been a failure—maybe even the notion that we have been a failure.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."
~ Matthew 6:19-20 (NKJV)
Relationships of this world and this time may prove temporal, despite our best efforts to take them into eternity with us.
We are not investing in the temporal and the seen. We are investing in the eternal and the unseen, laying up treasure in Heaven. We remain unaware, for now, of what return will be paid on our investment—for us, for our children, for every seen and unseen witness to our testimony.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
~ Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)
The case for love will not be lost—cannot be lost. The case for love is God's case, proven by us through His power.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
~ Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
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Copyright 2013, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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