A Lot of My Own
“Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me.” So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward; thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom.” – Genesis 13:8-9, 11-12
After moving into their first home, my friend told me that having a bigger place helped his marriage. He said that in their new place there was space for he and his wife to breathe and reflect. When conversations got too tense there was room to retreat. Taking a step back is a good technique for getting a broader perspective and for preparing yourself to reengage when the time is right. Unfortunately for Abram and Lot, that last step never truly seemed to materialize.
After returning from Egypt, the wealth and assets of Abram and Lot grew considerably. Jewish tradition builds upon the text suggesting that Lot’s herdsmen pastured their animals in fields belonging to Abram and others. Abram’s herdsmen confronted and rebuked them for committing robbery. The scriptures imply that Lot’s herdsmen felt an unjustified sense of entitlement regarding the land.
In a bid to keep the peace, Abram decided to split up and gave first choice to his nephew Lot. Although Lot knew that the people of Sodom were exceedingly wicked, he chose the land around Sodom because it looked well-watered and prosperous. And he eventually moved his family into the city of Sodom. It’s one thing to get some space in order to cool off, gain some insight, and grow. It’s another thing to find that space in an unhealthy environment. In other words, after getting into a fight with your spouse, it’s a bad idea to go talk to a friend who doesn’t like your spouse.
Most (if not all) of us will find ourselves in moments from time to time when the tension is too great. We need to blow off steam and cool down. Most (if not all) of us come to moments where we must address that which is not working in our lives. We will need to reset and begin again. This scripture is one of those moments for Lot.
Through Lot’s experience we see the value of choosing our context wisely. What people do we surround ourselves with when we’re frustrated or sad? Do we look for those who will help us forget by diving into something new or can we choose people we trust to walk with us through honest and vulnerable conversations? What thoughts do we dwell on when we’re angry or anxious? If we’re only looking to justify our position, we will never find the necessary space to see a way forward. We will only box ourselves in and keep healing and transformation at arm’s length.
When our emotions are raw and our life feels uncertain it’s the people, places, habits, and thoughts we surround ourselves that with are key. We all need a little space from time-to-time. May that space be one that nurtures our healing and growth