The dying of a relationship can feel like death. And IT IS a dying of sorts, if only a dying of dreams and hopes coupled with that fearful return to being "single."

But there are worse things, things lurking in the darker realms of relationships—the shadowy realms. I do not even mean the more tragic scenes of rape, abuse, or the eventual divorce. I mean also the pieces of our heart that lie strewn across the years of "trying." The truth is,

"Every person that comes in your life takes another piece of your heart and with every piece that slips away it gets a little harder to try."

The truth is to be careless in relationship is not only dangerous because of what may happen but because of what may die within you. Every failed relationship takes its toll, and yet, not every relationship can go forward.

As David Wilcox puts it, "Sometimes you build your hopes up and you fall back down again."

The kindest thing God can do is to hinder us if we are in a relationship that is not his best. The kindest thing he can do is to keep us from greater mistakes. Oswald Chambers recounts this story.

‘Have you, I wonder, ever had to do something to a pet dog in order to get it well, something which hurt it very much—pulled a thorn out of its foot, or washed out a wound, or anything of that sort? If so, you will remember the expression of dumb eloquence in the eyes of the dog as he looked at you; what you were doing hurt him tremendously and yet there seemed to speak from his eyes such a trust of you as if he would say, ‘I don't in the least understand what you are doing, what you are doing hurts, but go on with it.'"1

The truth is that our desires shape our lives far more than the truth. I mean that what we want can cloud what we see, what we hear, how we pursue and what we pursue. If we want something bad enough we may be able to convince ourselves that the warnings we hear have some other plausible explanation.

It is a very difficult thing to be hungry and to be told that what looks edible—is poison. Being hindered by God may be unpleasant, may be painful, but it is the surest sign that we are loved. God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path you choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship, and he does all this in love.

Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the hopelessly married, and they will tell you that there were signs, obstacles and hindrances they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting, there is worse. If he hinders you, be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship, HEED them.

There are a thousand excuses I used to imagine as to why the person did not notice me or did not return my calls. There are a thousand reasons, and all of them caught in the web of my own fertile imagination. There are a million other reasons, but none of them will bring life where none exists. There are a million reasons, but none of them will justify ignoring clear evidence that this or that relationship is not to be.

But that is not easy medicine for the chronically lonely to swallow. In fact, it is a bitter pill. Sometimes, no matter the clever reasons each person concocts, it is clear that a dead end is a dead end and yet—loneliness hurts.

As a single man I was forced to confront new barriers, distance, time, money, and race. I have had to consider whether these things were hindrances, barriers, or hurdles. Some things are to halt our progress and some to challenge our resolve. The issue is discerning when we are to stop and when we are to fight on. The trouble is that loneliness makes fighters of us all. Loneliness makes fighters of us all. Many hold on, many fight on, because it is easier than being alone.

What I did not know at thirty is that the ocean is not so deep and not so expansive. Those whose passions for God enflamed my own heart and pressed me to grow were rare and finding them required work. That made waiting very difficult. That made letting go nearly impossible, especially when there was a chance. Personally, I know that on several occasions I gave up too soon, and on several occasions I held on too long. The reasons were the same; I either did not have the guts to step up or conversely I did not have the courage to let go.

It has never been my way to offer easy answers, and I will not start now. We each must judge when these problems, complications and delays are God's way of saying NO and when our hearts are simply afraid!! Perhaps he is, in his patient and loving way, protecting us. Perhaps he is, in his often subtle, way trying to redirect us. In this case persistence is really stubbornness.

The next time you find yourself hindered do not be wise in your own eyes. Do not scheme so well that you find your way around God's barriers or a way through his hindrances. It is possible, is it not, that it is this difficult for a reason? Perhaps it is not suppose to BE—at all.

It is possible that the doubts you have are your own insecurities, but it is also possible that they are real red flags, requiring real and immediate action. If he calls you to pause—pause. If he is hindering you—BE HINDERED!

Psalms 130:5

Proverbs 3:7