So, could I get somebody to please clear the table?  Perhaps this is a question that echoes in your mind from time to time as you think back on your upbringing.  I know this was an all too familiar refrain coming from the kitchen of my childhood home after the dinner meal was served and our plates were clean.  Little did I know at the time that my mom would be providing me with one of life’s greatest object lessons that would continue to ring true even later in life.  You see this is a question for us, in particular as we think about those relationships that are closest to us.  Far too many of our relationships are defined by unreconciled conflict, the wounds of criticism or even (yes, even) unspoken words of affirmation.  And the residual impact that stems from this painful reality continues its relentless pursuit on our self worth as the days, months and years of our life march on.  So, what is our next best step to fight against this becoming a continued reality in our life?  Well, I think the answer can be found in the question…leave nothing on the table in your relationships, in particular those closest to you. 

Not too long ago I told you about my refrigerator friend, Scott who waged an eight-year, valiant fight against cancer (see Side by Side post on 5/17/11).  One of the hallmarks of my relationship with Scott was that we left nothing unsaid to one another, nothing left on the table as we forged life together as friends.  In him I was fully known and he was fully known by me.  As I thing back on this the fact that he was facing a progressively deteriorating condition probably gave us an ever greater cause to keep the table cleared.  But truth be told isn’t this the way it is with all of us?  Aren’t we all in some way or another in a deteriorating condition?  It could just be that herein lies one of the best ways we can be used as an agent of healing in the lives of others not to mention our own.  A simple “I’m sorry,” a simple act of forgiveness or maybe just a simple word of encouragement may be just all it takes.  I know I need to hear this.  How about you?  Is there anyone you need to talk to?  Is there anything left undone or unspoken on the table of your life?  We have been made to be in relationship with one another, preferably one that is life giving.  To be sure there is much more life to be lived when we live with nothing left on the table.  As we think about this perhaps the first step for many of us is to seek to “reset” the table in just one fractured or distant relationship, choosing not to dine on the scraps of broken relationship but to once again enjoy the feast of reconciled and affirming friendship.  Peace.