“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them under their feet,
and turn again and rend you.” Matthew 7:6
Let’s understand what it takes to obtain a pearl. To find the most exquisite ones, a diver must plunge to the ocean floor again and again. After finding hidden shells and digging through the meat of the muscle, if one is fortunate, a precious pearl is discovered! This is a prized possession because it was not found quick or easily.
This is how we should view God’s amazing work in our lives. The priceless experiences of walking with Him are not the result of shallow swimming, for we had to submerge deep into God to obtain our spiritual treasure.
As I share what matters most to me, how a person treats my ‘pearls’ signals if they should remain in my life or not. When I keep people close out of habit, ignoring the signs I should be heeding, I only cause problems and confusion for myself.
When I was younger, trying to figure out my place in this world, wanting to be flexible and give people the benefit of the doubt, I found myself in situations where my kindness was seen as weakness. In reaction to that, I let go of those toxic relationships and backed off from picking up any new ones. In hindsight, this was good. My meter for picking out friends was not healthy and until I got healthy, my luck would not change.
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I had many people in my life who were there by default, I was working a lot so I would hang out with my co-workers. This wasn’t me making an empowering choice but me allowing circumstance and convenience to dictate my relationships. I was not particular in choosing my friendships and my life began to reflect it.
I want you to think about that ONE friendship that has you questioning your value.
-Do they put down your goals and dreams?
-Do they nurture you growing into your best self?
-Do they value your offerings and time?
Signs of a bad friend:
-They gossip behind your back.
-Put down your dreams
-Derail your goals. (example: say you want to go on a diet and ask your friend to keep you accountable. If she sabotages your efforts, that says a lot)
-Disrespect or devalue your time (cancel last minute or ditch plans for something more exciting).
-Compete with you.
-Expect you to be there for them but aren’t there when you need them.
-Do not celebrate your wins.
-Cannot be happy for you.
-They use you.
-Interacting with them makes you feel worse, not better,
-They aren’t generous. You carry the weight of the friendship.
-They don’t follow through on their word or promises.
-They seem annoyed by your presence.
-When the novelty of the ‘newness’ of your friendship wanes, so does their interest.
Friends can build you up, but they can also tear you down. They set the culture and tone of your life. Good friends can enrich and expand our lives; toxic friends can lead to an early death. If you feel your friendships are not supportive, ask God to give you the strength to let go. This will open you to new and better fits. We only have twenty four hours in a day and our lives can only accommodate a certain capacity of people.
Action Plan for attracting the right kind of tribe:
Define what kind of friendships you want.
1.Go deep and journal your desires in a letter to God.
2.As you write out your friendship wish list, consider what kind of qualities a person like that might appreciate.
For instance, if you want someone to listen and care about your life, consider this: Are YOU a good listener? Think about your current relationships. When your friend shares about their life or struggle, do you care enough to follow up on how they are doing? It’s important to do an honest assessment of how people are experiencing you. If you find yourself lacking in character or follow-through, be honest with yourself so you can begin working on the traits that might be repelling good people.
3.Learn to be vulnerable.
Many people lament on how they long for deeper friendships but aren’t willing to share the depths of themselves. True friendship means we must be vulnerable. We must make space for authenticity not only for us but for others. There is a balance between sharing your heart and toxic dumping so look into how not to take your vulnerability to the extreme.
4.Communicate what you are looking to give and receive in your relationship.
I must say, If you aren’t healthy, invest in yourself. Get therapy so you don’t burden your friendships in a way that destroys them. Don’t forget! Friendships are a delicate balance of desire and freedom, allowing others the autonomy of choosing us in return. It takes time to develop a foundation of consistency, trust and to learn each other’s character. Be patient! Good friends are worth the wait.
Here’s what the Bible says about friendships:
“As Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.” Proverbs 18:24
Thank you for the good friends who have sown into my life. For every person I have not honored, help me to right this wrong and rectify our connection. I will no longer use being young and foolish for an excuse.
Thank you for modeling patience, kindness, grace and compassion. Help me to remain generous and sensitive towards those you’ve called me to.
Help me not to accept disrespect as this is a sign of envy, strife, and control. I will not bow to manipulation masked as friendship for this is a poison that kills slowly.
Flush out the friends who do support the best in me and open my heart and eyes to recognize the friendships that are life-giving and reciprocal. In Jesus’ name and for all He is doing through me, Amen.”