A while back, the latch on my side gate fell off. Don’t you hate it when you lose your latch?

The wood two-by-four that the metal latch was screwed on to had rotted. The gate wouldn’t stay closed.

So I went to work. I knocked off the old wood, replaced it with new wood, screwed back on the latch — all good. My gate stays closed again — nice and solid.

I was talking to a friend a few years ago who had a conflict with someone else I knew. The latch was coming off their relationship.

She said to me, “I’m a runner!”

What she meant was that when relationships got hard, she ran from the conflict. This time, true to form, she ran — clear across the country. When she came back, it wasn’t to the same place. I miss her.

I was talking to someone else this week. There is conflict on the team which she oversees in our organization. She told me, “Don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere!” She’s a stayer. She is willing to mend a latch.

Rot, difficulty, conflict — it’s normal, expected, certain to come, at home, work, community and church. But usually, with courage and some skill, and the willingness to stay through it, something broken can be repaired.

What is absolutely necessary to get a fix is to not run. To mend our relational gates we must stay for honest conversations, risk expressing underlying emotions, come to workable solutions, craft action plans that create win-win solutions.

The other day I spent some time deleting some contacts from my mobile phone. Many of them had moved. People come and go. We always have a few special ones to delete from our contacts, maybe even some people who have harmed us, whom we shouldn’t talk to anymore. They don’t get us. They limit us. Perhaps they dominate us. We delete them. That’s okay. Its protection.

But here is the deal: Delete who you must. Especially be courageous in deleting those who bring you ruin with their bad choices, but don’t delete the precious people who God has given you to love — family, team, coworkers, therapists, fellow students, friends — even when they aren’t perfect. With them, be a stayer!

Your people, those within your yard, those protected by your gate, your magnificent messes, all your sweet ones, all your fragile precious ones whom God has given you, when it comes to them — mend the latch.

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