Yesterday one of my best friends sent me a text that said that once more, her on-again/off-again boyfriend had decided not to pursue a relationship.
For the past three years, this man has appeared in her life. The relationship fell victim to a common failing of long-distance relationships: at the beginning, the long weekend dates were romantic and exciting, yet once they started spending more time together, the differences and problems were more apparent. Although she was the one who ended it, my friend was still crushed. It was over.
Yet every few months, he contacts her. This time, he was “just driving through Columbus and wondered if she wanted to get lunch.” The year before, it was a Valentine’s day visit that became a full weekend. It’s the random text that returns to weeks of communication. The feelings of love and attraction stir up and it’s off to the races.
To give her tremendous credit, she has been strong and clear-headed. Even as her hopes are raised, she has also kept in the front of her mind why they broke up – even more so with each successive time that he shows back up only to end in disappointment.
As her friend, though, I am angry on her behalf. To me, it is like my friend is being lured back time and again with the promise of living water, only to find herself again at the same dry well. The man in question knows that nothing has changed. He has nothing new or different to give her. It is only illusion that he offers.
I have also been trapped by a dry well. Like the Israelites walking circles in the desert for 40 years, I seemed to always return. Even when I knew it would go nowhere, even when I knew that I would be hurt, I STILL went back. It sometimes felt like I had lost control of my own actions.
The problem for me was that there was no one else. I would go on dates, get discouraged, and in that moment of weakness, I would return to the person who would give me some emotion, even if it was a negative one. It might not have been a good relationship, but it was A relationship. That was better than the loneliness that I felt.
Like the proverbial woman at the well in the Bible, rather than seeking living waters, I returned to what I knew. It never got better. Instead, it just poisoned me.
What is more, with each time that I went back, it dug a deeper hook into me. Although it seemed harmless at the time – like scratching an itch – it instead was causing deep damage that even today I feel its effects. What should have been a momentary blip – a flirtation that passed and was soon forgotten – instead became a de facto major relationship in my life due to the sheer length of time, which I will always remember.
Similar to the woman at the well, we may not realize at first that we are at a dry well. It seems good, it seems real. But once we have had our own come to Jesus moment, we need to recognize the truth and turn away. Not just that time, but permanently.
Do not return to that dry well.
Join the conversation! What dry wells are you returning to?