I have taken off my robe—must I put it on again? I have washed my feet—must I soil them again? Song of Songs 5:3

The idyllic relationship described in the Song of Songs has hit a snag. The woman doesn’t want to make an effort for her beloved. She did change her mind but it was too late and he had left (verses 6-7).

The poetic nature of these verses makes it unclear as to what happened to cause her to lose interest in meeting what seems to be a reasonable request. However human relationships are often not straightforward and any number of things could be going on.

Perhaps she felt taken for granted, that he was only interested in the delights of her body and not her personhood. Perhaps she was upset that he didn’t stay with her. It seems they were now married so where had he gone? Possibly it was all a dream since she slept but her heart was awake (verse 2) and she feared losing her beloved.

Whatever the cause, it reveals a universal truth that no relationship is without difficulties, even the wonderful connection described here between the lover and his beloved. People disappoint us. Maybe there’re good reasons for the failure. Perhaps they’re tired, unwell or experiencing other pressures. When they behave in ways that we don’t expect, we may not respond well which compounds the situation.

How do we move forward? The couple in this story move past their disappointments and reconnect again. In our relationships, we move forward when we learn acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness. It’s a continual process because no matter how well we know someone, things happen that cause them to change.

Let’s commit to learning, growing and maturing in all our relationships.