We called Chapter 2 Lovers, Lifesavers, Leeches, Losers, and Lost Causes.
This get your attention? We hope so – it was meant to! Read it again.
When you think about these terms, who comes to mind? While you may not have previously considered labeling people in this way, if you did, who would fit where? We bet you have a pretty good idea already. Most people do. Maybe you could come up with a category or two of your own?!
The problem is while many know who their true friends are, who sucks them dry, and who makes them downright crazy, they don’t “manage” their relationships. Their relationships just run amuck and they live with so much regret, aggravation, wasted time and energy, and more. What’s the point in this? What good can come of it? Not much!
Just as making physical room is critical to the entire decluttering process, intentionally making room in your life for the relationships that matter most and letting go of those that don’t is just as crucial! During Week 2 of the Declutter Now Challenge, we’ll tackle relationships head on. We’ll guide you in uncovering some of the root causes for wrong relationships and help you identify changes needed, as well as give you the tools to get the job done.
In preparation for tomorrow, we challenge you to give some real thought to the labels we’ve used and allow yourself the freedom to consider what each one means. Reflect on the qualities you seek and admire in a true friend, but also honestly address the ones you don’t.
How many friends do you have? True friends? People who provide unconditional love and support. Those who you learn from, aspire to be like, and stand by your side. They speak truth into your life, even when you may not want to hear it.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17)
We pray you have a few of these precious gems in your life.
How about the other “friends”? Are there those constantly in need; forever draining your time, energy, and resources. Any “Professional Victims” who are more interested in having something to complain than making an effort for positive change? What about people that leave you with that, “I can’t believe I just wasted two hours of my life feeling.”
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Prov. 13:20)
Chances are you have friends on both ends of the gamut. This begs the question – WHY would you allow draining and destructive relationships to take up ANY space in your life at all?
Your precious emotional resources are not limitless, so why give them away only to regret it time and time again? We’re not referring to a friend who is going through a rough patch and needs extra attention, or one that is grumpy from a bad day. Even right relationships will have wrong moments or seasons that are worth working through. We’re talking about relationships with people who continually leave you feeling worse than before you saw or spoke to them, or who negatively impact you and cause you to stumble and stray.
It is not “un-Christian” to say no to a damaging or negative relationship, in fact, it’s your responsibility as a Christian to set healthy boundaries. Just because someone has been part of your life for years doesn’t mean you’re obligated to keep them in your life now; feelings & circumstances change. A friend may have helped you out in the past, but he or she doesn’t have the right to make you miserable in the present; remove the negative. Your party buddy is no buddy at all if that relationship influences you to make poor choices; reroute your interests & time spent. Knowing you’ll have to deal with the pangs of hurt and jealousy when breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend is no reason to give up the rest of your life and live with regret; don’t run from critical decisions.
This is really tough stuff, but by far and large, decluttering negative relationships is the least of the evils. We challenge you to ‘get real’ with evaluating the relationships in your life and pray about any changes you may need to make. Don’t stress. Tomorrow, we’ll explain how to take the first step!
Crash course in the ‘Category Method’.
We have an internal category method we utilize to help us manage our friendships. When we rate our acquaintances and friends, it isn’t to be uncaring or crass. Actually, quite the opposite is true. It encourages us to put forth a solid and intentional effort into the people we hold dearest, and aids us in making difficult choices when it comes to unhealthy relationships.
Rate your acquaintances and friendships on a scale from 1 to 8. 1 is for the person you exchange greetings with while dropping your child off at school, and 8 is reserved for the best of the best; the person you would tell anything to and trust with all your heart.
Think about where people currently fall on the scale and what changes you’d like to make. Perhaps you just met someone (2) but would like to spend more time with them and get to know them (4). Maybe your friendship with your longtime bud has been waning for a while now (7) and you’d rather spend far less time with them (3). Can you see the logistics at work here? If you free up time from a draining or destructive relationship, you have more time to pursue a positive one.
Sometimes gradual shifts will work, but there are situations which may require more radical change. If you are apprehensive, start with minor shifts and work your way up to the big ones.
You may experience guilt thinking about some of the downward changes, but it’s better to be true to yourself and your friend than to waste time and energy in a negative situation. We’d bet most people would rather have your honesty than a fake friendship. You might make your (7) a (3) and they make you a ZERO, but that’s a chance you may have to take.
We aren’t suggesting people are numbers, but what we contend is that thinking of them in these terms will help you evaluate and make concrete decisions. It’s easy to hide behind ambiguity and get confused with emotion. The category method requires an honest assessment of your feelings and requires considerate, deliberate actions—a winning one-two punch.
Take the challenge and give the category method a try. Then, take whatever steps you must so there is more time for the healthy relationships you enjoy the most. Good luck!
ARMOR OF GOD
Today, we’d like you to look at your responsibility as a Christian friend from a new perspective. Can you discern when God wants you to be the “POINT MAN” or the “PASSER“?
As Christians, we often feel we’re expected to perform a certain way. While being Christian insinuates a high standard of behavior, God didn’t intend for us to replicate doormats or punching bags. Are you familiar with the phrase “Armor of God”? There are a string of verses that compile God’s directive on defending against evil. Through them, God equips us with the armor needed to carry this out. We are to suit up with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Take the time to read Ephesians 6:10-18 in its entirety, but even
with just the bits we’ve provided here, God’s instruction is abundantly clear. We are not called to lie down and succumb to abuse, temptation, and evil; we are to stand tall and strong. Yes, there are great expectations on our lives, but they should never be at the expense of our morals and values.
Along life’s journey, there will be people you’re delighted to embrace as friends, some you feel called to help, and others you’re better off keeping at arm’s length. For the latter, you can still pray for the person or point them in the right direction, but you don’t necessarily need to be the point man. God may have someone else better suited for the task lined up just down the road. This isn’t permission to shirk responsibility when it should be yours, rather an argument for the position that we aren’t called to be everything to everybody. Sometimes stepping back or passing is the best choice and the decision God would prefer you make as well.
Can you discern when God wants you to be the “point man” or the “passer”?
We challenge you to pray on this and make sure you’re available for God to use you in the capacity he knows will work best for each situation.
We’re wrapping up our week on decluttering relationships with some helpful parting thoughts to consider:
LEAD-ER or LEAD-EEE? Often the person best suited for helping another is someone who has walked through, survived, and thrived beyond a similar situation. The key question is, are you strong enough to be a lead-er or do you run the risk of being led? If you are going to help someone one in an area that has been a temptation or weakness for you, be certain you are strong enough to LEAD. If you stand the chance of being LED, it’s best to pass. Remember, you can always pray for the person, provide contacts, and point them in the right direction.
GETTING LOST IN TRANSLATION – Don’t discount personal communication; make an effort to connect with people you love and cherish most. Texting and emailing have their benefits, but there is no replacement to old-fashioned conversation and time spent together. Also, when people hide behind the mask of texting, emails, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc., they often act in a way far different than they normally would in face-to-face contact. There is less accountability, more boldness, and a feeling of freedom to say something they would’ve never dreamed of if they’d been engaging in a personal interaction. Do you find yourself using any of these methods of communication to avoid dealing with issues? Have you noticed a decrease in your genuine, personal interactions? Pick up the phone or sit down for coffee. Take the time.
GUARD YOURSELVES – Not everyone has your best interests at heart. If you are married or in a committed relationship, don’t just avoid temptation but avoid even the appearance of evil. We have an agreement that whenever possible, we won’t go out with friends of the opposite gender, whether it be for lunch, a drink or the like, unless we go together. This may sound rigid and non-trusting but just the opposite is true. To keep what we hold sacred protected, we’ve set up guidelines and boundaries. There’s no meeting, no drink, no event that’s more important than our marriage. Period! Do you have
any friendships that need to be decluttered, or at least rerouted, in order to protect a relationship?
Challenge yourself to make the tough choices, even when awkward, unpopular, or not enjoyable.
We pray this sampling on decluttering relationships has gotten your wheels spinning and has provided a springboard for positive change. Join us next week to declutter your finances!