I love the pleasant pop I hear when I open a new bottle of wine! It tells me the wine is unspoiled and ready for my sipping pleasure. Now usually when I go to put the cork back in to keep the rest of the bottle fresh, it fits snuggly back in place as it should. Every once in awhile, however, it won’t. It doesn’t matter how hard I try. I just can’t get it to work. If I continue to force it I end up destroying the cork and wasting my effort.
I think dating and friendships in life can sometimes be just like that wine cork. There’s the pleasant anticipation as the relationship starts, a real savoring of each other’s personalities and uniqueness. Everything seems to be going along beautifully. You love each other’s company, love spending time together, and love the emotions you’re experiencing with one another.
Sometimes, a relationship like this continues moving forward and maturing into a solid, life-enhancing relationship. Other times, something happens. It doesn’t really matter what that something is. The bottom line is the relationship changes, and not for the better. And you don’t understand it. You think back on how great everything was, how perfect everything seemed to be moving along, and you can’t quite accept what you have on your hands is no longer those things.
In life, the cork doesn’t always fit back into the bottle. It’s the same bottle and the same cork you started with. Logically they should work. After all, they used to fit together beautifully. But now, for some reason you just can’t fit the cork back in. And the more you try to force it, the more the relationship splinters and breaks.
When the cork no longer fits, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the other person is permission to walk away. Just walk away. The more we cajole, complain or fight, the greater our loss of dignity and self-respect, and the more fractured we become. You can’t force something to work that is broken. It doesn’t matter how great things were in the beginning. If consistently over time the pattern has changed in a clearly negative way, or if your paths have split irreconcilably, that is what your relationship is now. It may not be fair; you may mourn what was; but it’s important to be honest with yourself and value who you are enough to leave.
A parable I think of when it comes to this is one Jesus shares in Mark 2:22: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” You can’t force something that’s not meant to be, no matter how tempting. When you do walk away, you open yourself up for new wine and new wineskins, for something that willsatisfy you for the long haul.
For Further Thought: This week, focus on praying for positive, life-enhancing relationships that strengthen you and allow you to share strength as well. If you’re currently trying to force a cork in your life, pray for the courage to let go.