“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Project what you want because like attracts like.”
Loyalty is a quality I treasure. I’ve always touted myself as ‘loyal’ and thought if I displayed undying commitment, this would attract loyal people into my life. Unfortunately, for me, this was not the case.
In 1999, I went off to college with a big dream in my heart; I wanted to get a degree despite my struggles with a learning disorder and absolutely zero funds. I naively believed ambition, hard work and a dream was all I needed to succeed.
Who could have known that attending a campus frat party would take my life down a very dark path? It was on this fateful night that I met a boy which turned into a toxic entanglement I couldn’t get out of. No matter how hard I tried!
There were countless signs this guy wasn’t good…but I because I was taught to, ‘Believe the best!’ and ‘Focus on the good and not the bad!’, I figured I’d believe the best and encourage him into a more successful mindset. What I didn’t take into account was this boy did not share the same vision for hard work and the American dream. He was looking for the easy way out.
Believing the best might work in a Pollyanna world but in the real world, this is reckless advice.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
No matter what I did, this boyfriend always found a way to hook me into staying with him. He heaped on the guilt and shame for wanting to exit the relationship, insulting my character for even thinking about leaving.
“Where’s your loyalty? I can’t find a job…no one will hire me! This doesn’t make me a bad guy.”
My loyalty was used as a weapon against me. The truth was: In the seven years I was with him, he sabotaged every work opportunity presented. In fact, he never got a job. His financial solution was to encourage me (someone he claimed to love) to quit my dream of college and become a full-time exotic dancer. After heeding this awful advice, I became the sole provider for his parasitic lifestyle. And that’s when my life went from bad to worse.
The problem with ‘priding myself as a loyal person was, I never stopped to consider: ‘Who am I being loyal to? Should I cling to people and mindsets that aren’t serving me just because I’m ‘loyal’? Shouldn’t I be loyal to my growth? to God? To my dreams? What if loyalty to a person supersedes what will develop me as a person and the vision God has for my life?
As I look back, I realize my loyalty for another led me to abandon myself…and eventually, I abandoned my first love, which was God.
“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26
We’ve all had toxic friends lead us to places we never imagined we’d venture. The best thing we can do is arm ourselves with God’s wisdom and pay attention to any warning signs. We must get confident in who we are in Christ so we don’t settle for the crumbs of the enemy.
Pay attention to these signs of a toxic person:
- They are prideful, stubborn and negative.
-Being filled with toxic attitudes will only attract a toxic life. No wise person would choose this for themselves.
- They can’t be happy for you.
-Do they compare?
-Are they competing with you?
-When you share good news, do they often complain, “Wish that would happen for me!”
-Do you find yourself ‘dumbing down your success’ to make them feel comfortable?
- They don’t respect you.
-Are your Boundaries crossed?
– Are your Opinions/Ideas dismissed?
-Do they talk ‘down’ on you?
- They don’t encourage your growth.
-Do they put down your dreams/plans?
-Do they encourage unhealthy things that will derail your goals?
- They don’t take responsibility for their own life or mistakes
-Do they use the blame game to justify mediocrity?
- They only take from your life, they don’t give.
-Are you available to boost their ego or entertain them when they’re bored but when you need them, they’re not present for you?
- They are controlling/demanding
-It is always their way or the highway? Do they control the topics you talk about, the places you go or the activities you do? Does what you want even matter?
- They don’t believe in you.
-Life is tough enough! Don’t choose an inner circle that will add to your doubts and fears.
-Do they find ways to remind you of your insecurities/shortcomings instead of focusing on your strengths and supporting you?
- They make everything about them.
-Do conversations that start off with you, always seem to circle back to them and their problems?
- They are drawn to drama and gossip.
-Are they providing a safe, stable place to make mistakes and grow? Or do you feel exposed and vulnerable when you share your struggles?
- They don’t inspire you.
– Does their life does reflect where you want to go or who you want to be?
How to handle toxic friends:
You have to get grounded in your identity in Christ. You must know your value so you won’t settle for company that keeps you bound.
How to replace them:
You must be willing to be alone. Make empty space for new friends to fill.
This gives you time to ask yourself what you really want out of a friendship.
It will give you clarity to see why you allowed these toxic friendships to begin with.
Prayer to release toxic friendships:
“Lord, I thank you for even when everyone has left and failed me, you promised to remain steadfast in unconditional love. You are the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Lord, you are the example; you show me how to be and what I need.
Bless the relationships that need to be released; show me which ones are not serving my greater purpose. Free me from bitterness, fear and judgment. I want to move on; to better my life and the world around me.
Show me the people attached to my destiny; those who will light the way and those I can lead into discovering who they are in you.
Remove all fear of abandonment or being alone; release me from guilt and the spirit of manipulation that will keep me from growing into my greatest potential.
Place examples of excellence before me to show me that all things are possible with you.
Thank you for filling my aching heart with hope. I know there is a higher purpose in letting go of what I know and keeping my heart open to what you have for me. I trust you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”