Archives for category: friendship

That’s just the way I am!  You’re too judgmental!  Maybe you are just too picky?

Relationships are hard, both platonic and romantic.  They require work, sacrifices and compromises, especially since we are all broken, imperfect people with a suitcase filled with baggage.

It is impossible to navigate the world alone.  We all need friends.  “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT).  With that said, we have to learn to choose our friends wisely.  Relationships should be supportive, encouraging and empowering.  The people in our lives should directly and indirectly champion us to become better versions of ourselves.  We are the company that we keep.  The Bible reminds us of that in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company ruins good character” (NLT).

Compromise is needed to make any relationship work, but it should never be license for mistreatment.  Yes, we should all accept people for what, who and where they are, but this does not mean that we have to accept what they are willing or capable of offering.  For example, if we are in a place in our lives where our emotional love tank needs to be filled at a level eight capacity in order to make us feel whole, loved and valued, and someone is only willing or able to give at a level two capacity, then it is within our right to terminate or reposition that relationship.  The problem is that oftentimes, people with relational deficiencies take offense to being reassigned.  They often say things like, “You should accept me the way I am” or “You’re being judgmental.”  Yes, it is true that we should accept people as is, and that we should not be judgmental, but it is equally true that we don’t have to accept what someone is giving us simply because they are unwilling or unable to give us more.  It doesn’t mean that they are bad people, nor does it mean that we are.  It just means that we not compatible at the particular moment, which could change in the future.  It is okay to say that we want and need more from our relationships.  It’s even okay to say that we deserve it.  We should be in relationships with people who allow us to make demands of them, and who are willing to make an attempt to meet our needs.  With that said, we must be willing and able to do the same.  We also must be okay with others telling us that we do not fulfill their relationship criteria.  Some relationships are seasonal, and maybe those seasonal relationships have run their course.  That’s also okay.

One of the greatest and most humbling reminder on our road to self-discovery and reinvention is that we are not Jesus!  Yes, as Christians, we are meant to bare each other’s burdens, but we are not called to save, to fix or to restore anyone, including ourselves.  That’s Jesus’ job.  Some many of us in our quest to become Christ-like, or just plain liked, have resorted to becoming a receptacle for others to unload.  We allow others to dump all their “stuff” on our doorsteps.

 

Healthy relationships should be symbiotic, meaning each person should take turns serving the other.  There should be a healthy balance.  Our relationships should improve our lives and well being.  If we find ourselves giving more that we receive, we place ourselves in a position to become out of equilibrium, which puts us at risk for suffering emotionally, mentally or even spiritually.  Additionally, when we fail to set boundaries in our relationships, it sends the message that it is okay to not respect us. It tells others that our feelings do not matter.  That’s not only unfair, it’s also unhealthy!

 

One of the best ways to stop being a receptacle is to learn to love ourselves.  At times, loving ourselves might often mean putting ourselves first.  As Christians, we sometimes have a tendency to pervert the Gospel.  The phrase “die to yourself” has been misused and abused.  In fact, when asked by the Pharisees which of the Commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied that we should first love God, then love our neighbors as we would ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).  In that verse, Jesus commands us to love God, ourselves, and then our neighbors—in that order.  In order to love someone as we love ourselves, it is implied that we first love ourselves.  It is imperative that we love ourselves.  Oftentimes, this might mean saying no to others.  Additionally, it is important that we set aside time for ourselves to allow for a reset.  We will find that by doing so, we will also redefine the boundaries in our lives and have more healthy and productive relationships.

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Most of us are doing the best that we can.  At the half-way mark of our 21-day journey, I remind you to be kind to yourself!

Your phone rings, and your heart flutters.  On the other end of the line is yet another bill collector making a futile attempt at debt collection.  There was a time when your phone rang incessantly, and you spent countless hours mentoring, inspiring and championing those on the other end.  You bore the burdens for countless many.  But where are they now?  Your spirit yearns for even just a few words of encouragement, as your days have been dark, and your cares have been many.

The silence is deafening.  Your well has run dry, and the takers have moved on to fertile springs.  Many would look at your circumstances and pity you as the one who once was.  I challenge you to see your situation through different lens.

Many people have a disproportionate amount of takers in their lives—self absorbed narcissists who think only of themselves.  Oftentimes, takers align themselves with givers because givers are typically selfless and seldom place requirements on takers.  However, times of trials are perfect opportunities to reassess and re-equilibrate dysfunctional relationships.  It is a time to sift the givers from the takers.

Relationships should be reciprocal and edifying.  They should have additive value.  If the people in your life take disproportionately more than they give, move on!  Chances are, they probably aren’t your friend, at least not in the true sense of the word.  It is okay to say no.  It is okay to be protective of your mental and emotional stasis.   True friends understand that it’s not always about them.  They understand that you also have desires that need to be met and hurts that need to be nurtured.  True friends give as much as they take.  While giving and taking in healthy relationships might not always be in the same arenas, the actions ultimately balance out.  If you find that your needs are just not being met, it may be time to find some new friends.

2016-09-01 13.30.22 Pains of life circumference by our ball-clenched fists.

Who’d have thought it’d come to this:

Tales of broken hearts, disappointments and unchecked lists.

But to end it there, I’d be remiss to explain the travesty caused by a ball-clenched fist.

So many of us are straddled by baggage. We don’t always know we have it, but we do. Many of us, in an effort to maintain our daily functionality, bury our hurts in the dark crevices of our hearts. The problem is, just like rain could uproot skeletons buried beneath the Earth’s surface, our tears often reveal our misplaced pain. Many of our buried hurts are sharp, unbeveled deposits just below the surface. They cut and bruise. The friction of some of our deepest hurts have caused calluses in once tender places.   Many of the composite effects of our pain is dear.  The tighter we clutch, the deeper our scars.  During our day-to-day activities, we might not even realize that our grip is so firm until we finally decide to let it go. Only once we have let go the shattered pieces of our lives can we truly begin to heal and experience a freedom that we have not yet experienced….

 

With hope renewed like the dew of a morning mist,

The forces of pain we did resist,

To release these shards of glass from our ball-clenched fist.

 

Screenshot_2016-06-11-17-24-12-1.pngEvery now and then, I come across what I would call a social media gem.  The other day, I was scrolling through the pages of social media when I caught a glimpse of a quote that made me pause and take notice.  It read:

 

 

“STOP ADDING PEOPLE TO YOUR LIFE WITH THE SAME CHARACTERISTICS AS THE PEOPLE YOU ASKED GOD TO REMOVE.” Unknown.

 

I’m not quite sure who said it first, as many social media pages have posted the quote as their own.   Nonetheless, it struck a cord with me.

 

Relationships are as hard as people are imperfect.  We all have our ways—that thing about us that probably irks the life out of everyone else.  However, in order for us to have healthy, successful relationships, we have to be willing to overlook, and sometimes embrace, others’ shortcomings, just as we would expect them to embrace ours.  Relationships will never be equal, but they should be reciprocal.  In other words, there will be time when we give more than we receive, but it should balance out in the end.  We should strive to surround ourselves with people who replenish our cup, not deplete our well.

 

Many of us want great relationships, but, the truth is, many of our views on relationships have been skewed by our current dysfunctional relationships.  Some of us have become so accustomed to being in a position of lack that we don’t know how to ask for what we want and to receive what we deserve.  Oftentimes, the status quo becomes our new normal because we don’t know any better and because we have no measure against which to judge whether or not our current relationships are worthy investments.  Although I am no expert on the topic, however, below are a few pointers that I have picked up along the way:

 

  1. Know that when all else fails, God loves you, and He will NEVER forsake you.
  2. Know that you are worthy to be loved.
  3. Know that it’s okay to say, “I deserve better!”
  4. Learn to recognize when you are being taken for granted.
  5. Learn to recognize when you are being used.
  6. Observe the way the people in your life treat other people.
    1. This statement could go two ways:
      1. If the people in your life treat others badly, then, they will probably disregard you at some point.
      2. If the people in your life always put others before you, then they are probably taking your relationship for granted.
    2. Learn to be a friend.
    3. Learn to say no.
    4. Know that you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
    5. Don’t become a victim of faux loyalty and nostalgia.  Sometimes relationships were only meant to be seasonal.

 

Relationships take work.  They require effort.  People who value us and truly desire to be in relationship with us WILL put in the work.  If we are the ones who are always taking the initiative in our relationships, then we need to reevaluate and reposition those people in our lives.   We need to take note.  Are we the ones who are always calling, text or planning?  If we are, then we might want to evaluate whether value is being placed on our friendship—on us.  Sometimes, it’s better to be alone than to exhaust ourselves on toxic relationships.  The problem is many of us are creatures of habit.  Whenever we get rid of one bad seed in our lives, we often replace it with another of its kind.  At some point, we are the common denominator.  Ultimately, we have to realize that there is something that we are doing that enables and attracts these types of people and behaviors.  Again, we need to look at some of the pointers from above and remember that we deserve to be treated well.  We deserve to have genuine, honest relationships.

The biggest tests of love and loyalty are failure and success.  If we ever wanted to know where our true supporters are, we should either try living successfully or failing miserably.

 

Our lives are probably the most difficult to assess during the status quo—those moments where our daily routines are nothing short of monotonous.  It’s usually when life’s pendulum swings to either side that we typically get a clearer understanding of our lives and our relationships with others.  When times are really great, or really bad, we tend to learn who is really in our corner, or who is simply taking up space.

 

Imagine any one of the following scenarios.  We finally landed a great mate, but instead of being happen, our single friend is secretly resentful.  We got a promotion at work, but our so-called best friend can’t muster up the energy to be happy for us.  We got our heart broken, but the friend with whom we cried with until 3 a.m. in the morning after her break up can’t pretend to be interested long enough to listen to us vent.  Sounds familiar?  The scenarios might not be exactly the same, but they are probably resonating.

 

Nothing reveals an individual’s true feeling towards us more clearly than his or her reactions to us in our moments of need and celebration.  True friends understand that, for the most part, life is typically inconvenient.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all experienced our happiness and sadness simultaneously?  No, not really!  The truth is, our greatest victories might come at the height of someone’s biggest disappointment.  However, that should not be a hindrance for celebration.  Sometimes we have to learn to celebrate others even when our lives are seemingly in shambles.  The opposite is also true.  Sometimes, we have to pause our celebration to embrace someone who is hurting.  Why?  That’s what true friends do.

 

A few years ago, I read a quote by Mya Angelou.  She said, “When people tell you who they are, believe them.”  For many of us who have experienced, what I will call, serial disappointments in our relationships, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that, oftentimes, the writing is usually on the wall way ahead of time.  Typically, in relationships, most people make incremental revelations of their character throughout the course of a relationship.  Seldom do people “flip the script” and act completely out of character.  If we are truthful with ourselves, we would probably admit that the terminal behavior (the straw that broke the camel’s back) is not a new revelation.  With that being said, we have to admit that being disappointed or betrayed, regardless of the foreshadowing, is hurtful.

 

As hurtful as it might be to lose a friend, we have to learn that not every relationship is meant to go the distance.  There are times in our lives when God is doing a new thing and He has to clean house in order to take us to a new level.  Sometimes, we need to be pruned, and that pruning needs to be done in isolation.  Think about the Biblical story of the Israelites.  When God made them into a great nation, He did so in isolation.  It wasn’t until the Israelites had grown into a great many that the Egyptians took notice.

 

As hard as it is, we should be thankful for the people whom God has allowed to leave our lives.  If they cannot support, embrace or console us, what purpose do they really serve other than taking up space?  The dream that God has place on our hearts is too big to be bogged down with frivolity.  We need people who can be champions with us on our journey towards our purpose.

Tupac Quote

“I gotta stop treating people like I owe them something,” Tupac.

This quote came across my social media page the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks. Wow! How liberating.

I have always believed that no one owes me anything. I had never thought about that sentiment from the opposite perspective. However, it was something that I needed to hear. It’s something I believe that many of us need to hear.

As Christians, particularly Christian women, we believe that we have to be everything to everyone. We can’t. There is only one God, and only He can be everything to all. We are human, and we will fail and falter. The problem is, when we have conditioned people into thinking that our role in their lives is to be subservient to them, this becomes the expected norm of the relationship. They call. We answer. They ask. We give. They dish. We take. Most people do not like change. So, oftentimes, we find that once we try to redefine these skewed relationships, people become resistant and some often get angry. They might say things like, “You’ve change,” “You’re just not the same person,” “You’ve gotten brand new.” The truth is, you probably haven’t really changed. You’ve probably always hated being treated like a doormat, but you just never said anything. To those people whom you’ve allowed to walk all over you, there was no perceived problem in the relationship, because as far as they were concerned, their needs were being met. You filled the lonely gaps between romantic relationships. You picked up the pieces after the break up. You spent hours “talking” while they vented about a problem. For them, there was no problem. But what about your lonely nights, broken heart and failed dreams? Were they on the phone for hours listening to you cry and vent like you had been for them?

“But, they are my friend,” you say. “I’ve know them since (fill in the blank).”

“Ten years ago, they did that one favor that I feel obligated to repay over and over and over again.”

Whenever we judge the merit of a relationship, we should never judge it based on the question, “What have you done for me lately?” However, relationships MUST be symbiotic. If you find that you keep holding yourself hostage to that one, kind deed that an individual performed many moons ago, and you constantly feel indebted and need to repay that act, it might be time that you reevaluate your motives and reevaluate your relationships. Yes, we must remember kindness. So many of us are quick to forget. Yes, we must maintain a sense of loyalty, but we do not owe anyone anything. We have a responsibility to love God and to love His people, but we are not indebted to anyone.

In my own life, I have had to redefine several relationships. There were people who were always used to me running to their beck and call. They called. I answered. They asked. I gave. They dished. I took. Now that I have established new boundaries, there are those who’ve said that I have changed. They don’t like the fact that I am no longer their doormat. However, I can’t be who God has called me to be and go where He wants me to go if I am wrapped up living people’s lives and riding the waves of their emotions.

One of the biggest lessons that God taught me a few years ago is that the reason why many of us cannot get past our current season is that we keep bypassing our exit and repeating seasons with people who are currently in the season that God is trying to graduate us from. Friend, sometimes the very thing that we are trying to save someone from might be the fire that God is using to refine them. So, now, instead of moving into our new season, we are going into battle against God and getting burned.

For 2015, I encourage you to evaluate ALL your relationships. The Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). If you are in relationships that are not allowing you to grow, move on. Those lopsided relationships might be the very things that are hindering your growth.