Disloyalty: The Relationship Squasher

Disloyalty: The Relationship Squasher

I stood on the back porch of our small gray bungalow on the street corner of Alexander and Johnson Street, wondering if my twin friends thought I looked any different. Our family had just returned from a year-long sabbatical to Argentina and they were one of my first visitors since arriving home. After being apart for the entirety of our third grade year, they were now tan from swimming at the pool all summer and their blue eyes danced with excitement. We stood exchanging chit-chat while our moms stood nearby catching up. This was when email… text… even long-distance calls were difficult. We had relied on snail mail for our communication… and it would take months sometimes to arrive in Venado Tuerto from the States.

“There’s two new girls that are gonna be in our class this year!” Sarah told me, her face lit up. New people were rare to our small town… so anyone new, was exciting and usually immediately popular. You must realize, I had grown up with 28 of basically the same kids in my class since I was in preschool.

“They’re both from California…” Abbie whispered. And to those of us kids who were born and raised in Nebraska? California was an exotic place… full of Disneyland, Hollywood, surfing and beaches.

Those two California girls were seated at the same table with me that first week in 4th grade. Over the next couple of months, I found myself becoming friends with both of them: one with beach-blond locks and a carefree attitude and another with dark hair, dark eyes and a sweetness I had never seen.

 

But I remember the exact moment I chose to be disloyal to one of them. With all the change of moving back home, realizing that friend loyalties had changed in a year, and moving into the 4th grade (with all its new responsibilities), I made the choice to distance myself from the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. In a mad scramble to stay in the “Cool Girl Group”, I gossiped about that sweet girl and ignored her for the rest of the year. Maybe the next 4 years.

How awful was my heart in those moments? I am acutely aware at how insecure, powerless, and out of control I was: that lanky, skinny girl with green eyes and hair she’d spent an entire year worrying over as she grew out her bangs.

And in my desperate attempt to fit in- I alienated myself from a sweet and lovely girl who continued to show me grace and love, even when I did not.

 

Had my adult-self been able to sit that terrified 4th grade girl down and have a conversation, I wonder how much different my life would have been. Because that dark haired, sweet girl? She became one of my best friends in high school, once I decided I no longer needed to fit in, but began opening my eyes to the people Jesus led me to.

 

The Choice

C’mon. You’ve been there.

In that moment, when you make the choice to abandon all loyalty to something or someone and pick something new. It could be as simple as a skincare line, brand of chips or deciding to attend a different church. But, you cannot deny at least at some point, you’ve been disloyal.. to someone… or something.

Now, it could be that at some point, these things are not worthy of our loyalty. I mean, a chip brand… really? Unless, your grandpa used to work for them, or it’s your family’s company, I get it. But, when we choose to be disloyal to things that truly matter, we can lose out on a crazy amount of good. And I’m not talking about chip brands here. I’m talking about deciding to walk away from a person. A family. A job. A church. A responsibility. A calling. You name it. When it comes to relationships of any kind, disloyalty does no service for you.

It may seem to temporarily fix the problem. You can go YEARS without noticing any hurt or angst for yourself personally. But, it will catch up. Just like it did my freshman summer, when I looked around, and realized that there was one person who had consistently been kind to me. A sweet, dark-haired girl who continued to reach out and ask me to hang out to watch a movie or go shopping. I had missed out on years of friendship with this girl. Thankfully, we have the type of friendship that I can call her at the drop of a hat, and we pick up right where we left off.

 

The Connection of Faith and Loyalty

“So, what’s the problem with disloyalty, Meg?” you may be asking. I mean, we do live in a culture where we are constantly bombarded with the next best thing. I am guilty of not being loyal to skincare lines. I give them a month, tops. If I’m not seeing results or the cost is crazy high, I move on to something else.

When the thoughts began forming in my mind regarding disloyalty, I looked up synonyms on it. Because, surely, there’s a cooler word than disloyalty that I can use to title this thing with- right?

The words that stared back at me hit me like a ton of bricks.

  • Infidelity
  • Fickleness
  • Betrayal
  • Unfaithfulness

Ouch. Disloyalty is similar or the same as these words? And when I went to scripture to see where disloyalty was mentioned… it wasn’t much better.

Psalm 78:8

They would not be like their ancestors- a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

If we look closer at this verse, there is so much wisdom to be found. Notice how loyalty and faithfulness are almost succinct with each other. And the behavior that accompanies that disloyalty and unfaithfulness? Stubbornness and rebelliousness. If we pretend to have faithfulness to our God, but then choose to be disloyal to relationships around us? What does that make us?

Hypocrites. Yikes!

 

Because when it comes to relationships, disloyalty does more harm than good. Disloyalty halts your ability to grow or mature. You will never have to look that person in the eye and own up to your portion of the problem. You won’t have to ask for forgiveness or allow the offender try to apologize to you. When you choose disloyalty, you are choosing to alienate yourself from a possible relationship. And in a world where we are so disconnected, especially now, why would we choose that? Why choose loyalty when disloyalty is so much easier?

Why? Because loyalty means staying with it, no matter how hard… how dire it seems… no matter how frustrating. But what do you gain? Commitment. Deepened appreciation. Thankfulness. And trust begins to build. (More on that to come…)

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Here’s that thing about love and relationships again… and its pretty intense. Now, maybe your brain is going in circles with all I’m trying to connect for you. I mean, asking for you to lay down your life for your friends? Yep. Intense.

 

But here’s the real predicament.

How can you learn forgiveness, if you choose to walk away from every relationship the minute that they show their imperfections? How can you learn to give grace to those we come in contact with, if we avoid every possible chance of conflict?

When it comes to disloyalty, we may be missing out on a grander plan. There may be things that we are not maturing in. Could it be that if we were to choose loyalty to those relationships… that job… that responsibility… that church… that family… that we may gain so much more?

We can never fully mature if we cannot truly love others, forgive and give grace to those we live life with on a daily basis.

So, how do we push past disloyalty and move into loyalty?

It’s pretty simple actually. Just choose to be loyal. Stick with it. Push through. It comes down to endurance and patience. Now, that may sound simple… but it’s far from easy. Choosing loyalty means you may have to get some abuse from those who don’t understand loyalty. It means that instead of looking out for you, you’re looking out for others. It means that you may have a tougher life while you navigate awkward conversations and begin to look conflict square in the eye.

But the reward of loyalty? It could mean you will find:

  • a friend for life
  • a safe place within your family to rest in
  • a relationship that stands the test of time and hardship
  • a job that you can grow and learn in
  • a church family that will stand beside you in love, no matter what
  • a calling that leads you to unimaginable joy

On top of that, you may find:

  • commitment in your marriage
  • true appreciation in your workplace
  • genuine thankfulness from your family and friends
  • others who trust you

I mean, if these things don’t excite you… then don’t choose loyalty. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

What’s the Deal with Context?

I remember it vividly. A well-known and loved professor screaming at the top of his lungs, “CONTEXT IS KING!” At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt out of the loop, like he had this private club that I didn't have the key to. But the more I learn...

Called Out.

Called Out.

There’s an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and it seems so elusive at times I can hardly put my finger on it. 

  • It comes with a friend bailing on you because another bigger, better party (or nap opportunity) came up. 
  • It comes when marriages break into a million little pieces and call everyone into question that surrounds the broken relationship.
  • It comes when families no longer understand the value of trust and giving without asking for payback.
  • It comes when someone stops shopping at the Mom&Pop shop because a new and better store came into town. 
  • It comes when a friend continues to ghost you and not call, text, or message back with no apology. Even months later. 
  • It comes when a family leaves your church because it’s not filling their own needs.

What is this thing that has emerged in our personal thoughts, families, lifestyles, relationships, marriages, and now churches? 

Disloyalty.

Some would call it a lack of commitment. But where did the previous commitment go? Was it even really there in the first place? As I look back at our nation’s history… I see a trail of disloyalty within the church. Churches splitting… new denominations created… competitions growing amidst congregations.

Since planting a church, a whole new level of disloyalty has emerged. And this one… scares me.

As I’ve poured thru scripture, my understanding of what Jesus called the church to, was mostly incorrect. (Here’s a hint… the church was called to be a Kingdom.) A paragraph in the 2nd chapter of Acts continues to haunt me as I learn more and more about the Kingdom of God.

Acts 2:42-47 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Community of Believers

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

I don’t believe we are called just to gather to have our needs filled. (Gasp!) If we are only looking to love ourselves… then we will attend a church if they provide: an excellent and entertaining kids’ ministry; an uplifting and rocking praise and worship service; bible studies with popular teachers that draw crowds; and a preacher who is funny, yet serious, yet knows his Bible in the original languages and can relate to everyone he comes in contact with.

Honestly, looking at that last statement takes my breath away… and not in a good way. Like someone punched me in the throat kind of way. People are openly choosing to be disloyal to the Kingdom of God… over and over and over.

Commitment Issues

They choose their comfort over maturing spiritually. (It’s not easy.) They decide to point fingers of judgment towards others instead of just loving them. They choose to sleep in, instead of investing in those that God has called us to love upon. They decide to leave a church behind without even a word because they weren’t given the proper “acknowledgment” that they thought they deserved. They choose to forgo building relationships with friends in the church because it gets real… quick. They prefer to gossip and divide the Kingdom openly with harsh words about others.

That’s not right. That’s not what Jesus came to establish.

I’m humbled by the simple fact that God has allowed my husband and I to be a part of such a loving and grace-filled community during the last six years. But I hurt when I see people choose to be disloyal to the church over and over and over… and not just our church. All churches, nationwide. 

There seems to be a fear of telling the truth to those we need to be honest with… but more importantly, a fear of telling the truth to ourselves.

We need to ask ourselves… what do we really want?

To be a part of the Kingdom? Because that, people, demands loyalty.