Someone who I consider to be a trustworthy, Christian guide gave me some advice recently.
Drop the rope.
The counsel came after I told my story of a particular tug of war relationship. Most friendships or acquaintances can “ebb and flow,” and some people float into our lives for only a season. This occurred differently. Have you ever known someone who pulls you in and then pushes you away? Wants to share and then takes a step back? Desires deep friendship and then seems to have no time?
My wise friend advised that in order for a tug of war to occur, I had to hold the rope. If I wanted the dynamic to stop, I need only let go. I kept people like this in my life because I felt the need to be a “good Christian” (whatever that is) and to be the light of Christ to those who may not otherwise see it. I realize now that it’s possible for me to stay true to my faith and true to myself at the same time. A difference exists between investing in a relationship and treating someone with respect, kindness, and good regard.
I recently saw a post on Facebook which illuminated this situation in a different light.
“Your standards should be high for both your friendships and romantic relationships. Everyone you surround yourself with should have qualities you actually admire. Everyone.” (Tiffany Pugh)
I thought long and hard about the powerful truth of this statement and went to the Bible for clarity.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:14 ESV)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)
The Bible clearly outlines that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, look to the interests of others, and be careful not to put stumbling blocks in the way of our peers. We also need to forgive others. So, when is it okay to turn away from someone?
All people suffer from some unhealthy behavior or personality trait. The key lies in recognizing when that unhealthy behavior leads to repeated affronts that harm us. I’m not speaking about marriage relationships here; those have a different set of variables. I’m talking about friendships and where to draw the line. People will hurt us; it’s human nature. However, we need boundaries in order to keep ourselves safe.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Humans often struggle with moral issues on some front. Sometimes people demonstrate self-awareness, moving towards a better place, but other times people remain mired in their own pit of quicksand believing they stand on solid ground.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
The pessimistic attitudes and beliefs of those around us penetrate our deepest selves. Being around someone negative impacts one’s mood, and the ethical decisions of our associates may influence our own, especially when those voices shout the loudest. However, positive inspirations permeate our lives as well.
To surround yourself with people one admires is to surround oneself with good guidance and trustworthy community. Those types of people more frequently call us out on our poor decisions and help us grow.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
What if the iron is dull?
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed (Ecclesiastes 10:10)
This wisdom and guidance enabled me to “drop the rope.” I choose kindness as my plan of action moving forward, but I withdraw myself from any investment. I pray that God will bring the right people into the lives of those I cannot minister to and that they will feel the call of God on their hearts and step toward Him.