Why do we hold on to toxic relationships? Why do we feel so unworthy of healthy relationships? Why do we cry and complain over how unsatisfied we are in our lives with the ones we call “friends” and yet do nothing about it? What do you think paralyzes people in this area?
I never had a problem with abusive relationships with men. My dad was always very steady and I just knew that he loved me whether he showed it or not. I just knew.
My friendships with girls on the other hand …. Dang! Hot mess. Catty, gossip, slander, jealous…. blah. It was just messy. In my mind THIS was friendship.
As I grew in my walk with Jesus I started to feel very sad and uncomfortable in these types of relationships. I was now aware and responsible for MY actions, MY words, MY behavior. I couldn’t continue in these toxic relationships.
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
When I went through anxiety and depression hanging around my “friends” made me feel so overwhelmed. I just could not be in that type of environment where girls are backbiting and backstabbing. I was literally fighting for my life and the last thing I cared about was what so-and-so said to so-and-so and how ‘she’ was wearing ‘blah blah’ on Tuesday. Ugh! Yuck. I talked to the girls about making a positive change and TRIED to be the light in the dark conversations… but it just wasn’t working.
I cried my heart out to The Lord and said, “I’m already paralyzed by anxiety and depression and now the scales have fully fallen off of my eyes in regards to these girls. I would rather be alone than be a part of this mess.” At that moment I disconnected from anyone who was not helping me run this race. I cut off ties from people who were jealous and mean. I shut down all relationships with people who insulted me or made fun of me because of how “Jesusfied” I was. Done. No more.
A quote from a Third Day song sticks with me from when I was walking out of anxiety and depression. “When I get down from this mountain and get back to my life, I won’t settle for ordinary things.” Never again!
I want to encourage you today to take a look at the people around you. Are they helping you run this race or are they ankle weights? Are they lifting you up or smashing you down? I’m not talking about ending all of your friendships because you had a disagreement with your best friend OR because your best friend is frustrating you because she’s holding you accountable…. You know what I’m talking about. People who make you feel guilty. People who you can’t fully share your heart with because they laugh and make fun of your dreams. People who define you as who you USED TO BE. People who take and take but never give to the relationship. Evaluate who you’re spending time with and how you feel after you’ve been around them. Sit quietly in the group and listen to what they talk about. Are they speaking life? What and who you listen to plant seeds into your heart. Those are seeds of encouragement and hope or seeds of discouragement and defeat. If people love us why would they hurt us? I think we have become an accepting society that thinks this is normal. This may be ‘normal’ to this world but it’s not right and it shouldn’t be ‘normal’ to believers. Have you read the Biblical definition of love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
Now I know we ALL fall short but you should be able to take the character of your friends and lay that on this scripture and it should match up pretty close! None of us are perfect… but you get what I’m sayin’, right? Don’t define love by this world’s broken standards. Read this scripture and ask God to reveal your identity and value to you… then take inventory on the people in your life. Are they helping you run the race?
Hebrews 12:1 “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
You are who you hang with. They will rub off on you and you will be like them no matter how hard you try not to be. When you share the treasures of your heart with the wrong people they can destroy you!
Matthew 7:6New International Version (NIV)
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
There are commentaries that state the above scripture is in reference to sharing the gospel and that may be true… but God spoke to MY heart through this scripture when I was struggling with toxic friendships and spoke to me through this verse. He was telling me not to give the treasures of my heart to people that will discourage me. He told me to guard my heart. It is my responsibility to take the gifts and talents He gave me and run forward. When people get in my way, I love them but I’ve got to go!
Last year I lost one of my VERY best friends. I love her to pieces and think of her often. She was backsliding terribly and instead of receiving my accountability she started calling me judgmental and started making me feel guilty for holding her accountable. She started to hurt me. She started to take private, deep stuff that I had shared with her and started throwing it in my face to hurt me. Stumbling block! I tried to reconcile, I tried to maintain a friendship but I am confident that God’s got her. She will find her way back to Him. I love her dearly but I can’t slow down and I can’t go backwards. My friend was going through a hard time and I know she was hurting but we are responsible for our behavior. I don’t allow women to stay in my life who want to hurt me when they’re hurting. These are my boundaries that are set in stone.
I had another best friend going through the same situation as the before mention chick … and she acted TOTALLY different with her hurt. She drew closer to me and asked for prayer and accountability. She was confused and hurt but she didn’t spew that out on me or the other people that she loved. She drew closer to God and wanted more of Him. She and I are running the race together. There are days when I have to lend her my shoulder and we run together. We may not be running at full pace (because of carrying the weight of another) … but we’re running and we’re going forward… and this is what we’re called to do!
Do you see that difference?
So how long are you going to circle that mountain? Do you enjoy hurt feelings and someone who ‘loves’ you planting seeds of negativity into your life? What are you going to do about that?
I’m praying for women who are searching for freedom from people who are holding them in bondage. I know it’s easier said than done to just ‘let them go’ … but at the end of the day … it really is that simple. The hard part is the mental battle. It’s difficult to go searching for the root that keeps you in relationships like this. Digging up my root was VERY painful … but very freeing!
My identity was rooted in people and what they thought of me and NOT in God and what HE thinks of me. Once I found that root and destroyed it and planted myself in the TRUTH …. my life changed completely. I hope you conquer this battle. I hope you find the freedom that you’re seeking and I hope you realize just how valuable you are even if that means you have to be alone!
Love to you, my friends!
PS – when I decided I’d rather be alone and set my boundaries, God totally showed up with AMAZING women. He significantly placed them in my life at the perfect time. They are wonderful! Truly wonderful! I don’t think I ever would have gotten these chicks or appreciated them had I not cut off all the old friendships that were hindering me, and seeking out my identity and value in Christ.
Friendship should be easy. This doesn’t mean we don’t get challenged because our friends SHOULD challenge us because they want us to be better and move forward boldly – but it should ALWAYS be rooted in love. Don’t get it twisted… love can hurt when it calls us out! Don’t you get offended when someone tries to correct your bad ways? I know I do. I usually know I’m doing something wrong and when I get called out on it, I immediately feel that fire shoot up in my chest… BUT when it’s someone who I love and loves me, and someone I walk closely with, I NEED them to call me out. I need them to point out my blind spots. This is challenging. BUT this is challenging in LOVE.
Pray for God to open your eyes and get ready for your world to be ROCKED… in a good way!