Sometimes we have to leave behind things that aren’t good for us.
And sometimes what’s not good for us is a person we thought was a friend.
For many years I believed that severing friendship was wrong. I didn’t want the other person to feel abandoned or rejected, and I definitely didn’t want anyone looking down on me for being callous. I mean, what kind of person turns their back on another – isn’t that just plain rude?
Yet sometimes space is necessary.
This concept was first introduced to me by a mentor, Pastor Gary, when I was in college. He explained to me that a person very close to him turned away from his faith and became very spiteful. Because the conflict was so stressful, Pastor Gary began to limit contact with this man and for years barely spoke to him. I’m not sure if this relationship was ever restored, but unfortunately there are times when restoration is not possible.
Successful leaders teach that we have to leave behind some ‘toxic’ people in order to flourish in life.
And the Bible tells us that sometimes people’s hearts are so hard that we have to give them space (1 Corinthians 5).
We can’t make people change. We can’t force them to see the errors of their ways. They have to decide for themselves. So when a person’s actions are focused solely on themselves, when they are constantly negative or argumentative or hateful, it may be time to walk away.
So when we identify a relationship that is more negative than positive in our lives, how do we implement this distance? In a loving manner, never complaining about the other person or badmouthing him/her to others. We simply have less and less contact, and let God work out the rest. When we do spend time with them, we are kind and generous, loving them in spite of their flaws.
At times, letting go can be easy because we’re so tired of being mistreated or watching the other person’s destructive behavior. But sometimes, when we’re really attached or have a long history, letting go can be very difficult. It may be very painful in the moment, but ultimately, it’s more beneficial for us. We come out stronger and healthier in the end.
A few years back, God showed me a person in my life who was not good for me and my family. I struggled, because I really wanted this person to be in my children’s’ lives. There was such potential for a great relationship there. But I decided that a boundary had to be drawn for the protection of the children – and my own heart.
I hate to see friends continuously sinning, acting selfishly and hurting others for the sake of themselves. I want to help, but most of the time these types of people don’t want help. While it hurts to see someone we care about making mistakes, we have allow them the freedom to go their own way and trust God to work it out.
While I did have to grieve the loss of that relationship, God showed me that my energy was better spent on relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Instead of dwelling on the pain caused by ‘toxic’ people, let’s put our time and effort into relationships that really matter.