Like walking a tightrope, our relationships need to have balance. Good ones are difficult enough, but when we encounter destructive relationships, we endanger ourselves.
I try to make good decisions to keep my physical body healthy—exercise, get at least seven hours of sleep each night, eat well…
Even though I don’t know what food studies are factual, I try to keep “bad foods” at bay. Limit processed sugar…cancer cells supposedly feed on sugar. No artificial sweeteners…they can cause tumors in mince. Limit rich foods and live in moderation. So why then, when I find myself faced with a destructive relationship would I ingest what’s not healthy for my soul? It would be like hanging out in a meth lab and believing I won’t become sick.
Many times we neglect the thing that needs the most care. Our souls.
Destructive relationships can take on many faces: Verbal abuse, controlling ways, lying, trust issues… And these difficult relationships reside in marriages, they surface in families, grow in friendships and yes, they even happen in the church. Actually, many times within the church.
So how do we handle destructive relationships?
First, we need to identify them.
Some signs of destructive relationships include: Chronic repetitive nature, no awareness of what one is doing is wrong, and, when one refuses to change.
So here’s four ways to deal with destructive relationships:
Confront the situation and explain your feelings as lovingly as possible. Of course, in truth in love. Stand firm in your convictions.
Let go of your expectations that this person (or anyone) will ever be what you want them to be. Accept the fact that the people in your life are free to behave however they see fit. You don’t have to agree with their actions, but you don’t have to change them either. We can’t fix others. Only God can do that. Acceptance is the key. Replace your disappointment with acceptance.
Create healthy boundaries for yourself. Make the boundaries clear and concise. You can forgive and love, but you do not have to embrace harmful behavior. You don’t have to be a prisoner to anyone’s dysfunction. You can love from afar.
Fill the hole in your heart with Christ’s love. He will bridge the gap of disappointment and hurt and connect it to His infinite flow of life-giving love. He will see you through this. You can still honor a destructive person by loving from a distance.