I believe many of you have seen the Geico Insurance commercial featuring Kenny Rogers where he is singing softly one of his old favorites ‘The Gambler: you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away’.  These words ring clearly when I think about the many relationships we all have.  There are the relationships with spouses, children, siblings, employers, friends and neighbors that are a major portion of our lives.  However, there comes a time when we must assess those relationships especially the ones upon which we depend heavily.  Or as Kenny Rogers would say “you’ve got to know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away” or else be drawn into the deep abyss of life. There comes a time when we just have to let go so we may move on and become better.
      I saw these words the other day and it caused me to truly think hard about the many relationships all of us are in.  Let go of people who dull your shine, who poison your spirit and bring you drama.. .cancel your subscription to their issues.  There are lots of people we all need to let go of but find it very difficult to do.  I can think of a number of people I need to let go of so I can work on being authentically me.  I want to work harder on managing the necessary relationships in my life.  I would like to be a better husband, father, pastor and friend.  Being brutally truthful I know there are some close relationships I have that I need to let go of.  I have difficulty doing so because I am often in conflict with my self-image (how others see me) and my self-fact (how I see myself).  If I can let go of some of the relationships that poison my spirit I can make room for relationships that are affirming and uplifting for my spirit.  If I can let go of the relationships that dull my shine I can make room for more light to shine upon me.
      I want to learn better how to balance my relationships with people who are willing to understand the differences between my self-image and my self fact.  I am always under siege by my self-image.  While that is not all bad it certainly is not who I am or strive to be.  My self-image is always, always drawing me to a place that is not always authentic.  I do appreciate what others think and say about me because it informs me as to what kind of relationship I wish to enter into or not.  My self-image does not necessarily define who I am because my self-image is not what I think of myself.  I’d like to think my self-image is a sort of proving ground where I wallow in the via positive of what is being said about me.  I often form my relationships with people who have been seduced by my self-image and not by my self fact. I want relationships where my self-fact is as honest and transparent as it can be.  It is important for all of my relationships to be created out of my self-fact.  This requires establishing relationships that can be authentic and genuine.  And if it is not, I want to cancel my subscription to that relationship.
    Letting go of my self-image is not always easy because my self-image always seems to be reinforced by matters that are shallow.  My self-image is always seducing me into thinking and believe the hype rather than the real substance of who I am.  I want to let go of all the people in my relationships that constantly try to dull my shine. By letting go of such relationships I am able to enter into the ‘discovery phase’ of my self-fact.  Those are the relationships I have that allow me to be me without making it difficult for you to be you. I am always on my way to establishing the kind of relationships where I do not have to pretend. In letting go  of relationships that poison my spirit I become more of a vessel willing to be used for the greater good.  My spirit is important to my becoming an apostle of sensitiveness and I cannot be that apostle with relationships that are constantly needing me.  I have to know when to ‘walk away’ and when ‘to run’ less I lose my gait.
      I mentioned how I re-discovered a former student and dear colleague in ministry after several years of losing contact.  When we reconnected it was as though we had never really been apart.  Ours is a relationship built upon friendship, family and faith.  Ours is the kind of relationship where we build each other up rather than tearing each other down.  Ours is a relationship which allows us to speak our truths to each other without judgment and without blame.  We both have ‘sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.’  Most importantly, we have learned how to listen for the sound of the genuine in each other.  Ours continue to be the kind of relationship where we can take our self-image with a grain of salt.  We have learned how to let go of the baggage that is non-essential for our continued journey.  Most importantly, we acknowledge the essential value of our self-fact that enables us to hear the sound of the genuine in each other.  Mike and I have secured our relationship of over thirty years with the seal of God’s blessings.  May all of us re-examine the relationships we are in and find ways to strengthen them so we can make them stronger or find a way to let them go. And may we have the courage to let go of the relationships that keep us from finding our true self fact.  And in doing so let us remember: life is short, live it. love is rare, grab it. anger is bad, dump it. fear is awful, face it. memory is sweet, cherish it. And so it is!
Dr. Paul