“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”- Proverbs 17:17( NIV)
This is a follow-up to my post on handling difficult people
Difficult people are going to enter our lives. I will stand by the three things we need to do when we have to experience difficult people (pray, love, serve). However, what happens when they begin to overtake our lives? What happens when we have someone in our life that wears us out and is constantly draining our energy?
This is a difficult question. However, it has a very easy answer, but difficult for us to act on.
First, before we answer, let’s look at what people do to drain us.
We might have people who constantly complain. They can’t find anything good in this world. They might see some light, but end up putting a sheet of negativity over it. So, what do we do?
We might have someone who is manipulative. They make you feel guilty for not helping them. They make you feel like you’re a horrible friend or relative if you’re not there when they need you.
However, when you need them, they’re nowhere to be found. What next?
What about that person who constantly drags you down spiritually, mentally, and/or emotionally? When do we cut ties with someone like that?
The list could go on and on of people who make our lives difficult. So, what do we do?
Here’s what we don’t do: We don’t stop loving, serving or praying for them. We don’t kick them out of our lives.
What we do: We keep our distance. Christ told his disciples to pray for their enemies. He ate at the sinners home, but He didn’t go to the people who were going to kill Him and say “Hey! Let’s chill.”
In Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about bringing John (also called Mark) on a trip to meet with other churches. Paul didn’t want to take him, but Barnabas really felt like it was necessary. Paul didn’t want to bring John because he bailed on Paul and others for an earlier trip due to a possible family issue or fear of danger in the travel (Acts 13:13). Paul felt like it wasn’t healthy to bring someone who might hinder the ministry.
What does this mean for us? When we have someone in our life that is hindering our ability to do what we are called to do, then we need to step away from that relationship.
When we have someone in our life that causes us constant pain, then we might have to step away from that relationship. Their selfishness is found in how they treat you. If they don’t care about how you feel, then they are selfish and toxic. You need to analyze that relationship and possibly create some distance.
Friendships are hard to call off. Relationships are hard to end, especially when they have gone on for so long. However, we need to assess the situation and take the necessary steps to create a healthy environment for our self.
Here is the rub: Paul and Barnabas spoke about the issue and discovered they couldn’t agree, so they had to separate. We need to be honest with the people we are considering stepping away from. They might not realize their flaw. If they choose to repent and fix their issue, then great, move forward and guard yourself. If they choose to ignore your concerns or belittle your concern, then take the step to walk away.
It is about your health. It is about your ability to love and serve people more. It is about your spiritual health and connecting in a healthy way with God. God doesn’t want us to have friends that hinder our ability to grow, “iron sharpens iron”(Proverbs 27:17) and he doesn’t want us to be connected with people who will lead us down a path against Him (2 Corinthians 6:14).
May we be wise in the friendships we choose. May God guide us in our decisions in our relationships. May we always remain focused in prayer, love, and service for all no matter who they might be or what they have done to us.
QUESTION: How have you handled friendships that have hindered you?