Is pulling your grade up in a class worth skipping Netflix until after the exam?
Is taking that trip to Europe worth giving up Starbucks in 2015?
Is rehearsing your instrument worth giving up your “chill” time on Trivia Crack?
How about that person next to you, the one you’re hanging out with? Are they worth your time?
Don’t get me wrong. Every human being is worthy of love and respect, but some people are nutritious for you, and some are not. Some friendships and relationships are worth your time energy and effort. Some aren’t.
As we dive into a new year, I’m trying to reflect on what is truly worth it in my life. This housekeeping applies to all areas. Is it worth eating that brownie? For sure! Is it worth paying that much for a pair of jeans? No. I don’t really need a new pair. Snap. This week I’m focusing on relationships.
I came out of a restaurant yesterday where I’d had lunch with a friend to find this on my windshield.
First thought that popped in my head? Totally worth it.
And it was. A $10 parking ticket for the time I had with this woman, so very worth it.
See, she’s not an average friend, or an acquaintance, but she is a true sister in Christ. Every single time we get together one or both of us has some sort of revelation, a bit of divine wisdom from our Creator delivered to us through our conversation. She’s a friend I know I can be completely candid with about my insecurities and inadequacies, and I know she’ll not only love me despite them, but also listen and help me grow. We are always praying for each other, sometimes in ways no one else even knows we need prayer about. And yesterday was no exception. There was literally a moment while chomping on the crisp lettuce, salty almonds and chewy Craisins in our salads when she shouted out, “That’s it!” We grabbed hands and saw something we’d both been struggling with separately, in a new light, together.
A $10 ticket? Well worth the price!
But not all relationships are like that.
Some are gossipy, draining, or deflating. There are some parties I go to where I linger along the walls feeling like I don’t belong, get stuck in conversations that make me feel uncomfortable, or where I find myself engaging in the dangerous act of comparing myself to others. There are other gatherings I attend where I find genuine conversation, nuggets of information, or perspective by spending time there. What’s the difference? The people.
So how can you tell the difference? Answer these questions about who you’ve been hanging out with:
1. Does the person celebrate your strengths?
2. Do you learn from this person?
3. Do you find yourself in healthy activities with this person? (This doesn’t have to mean eating carrots and running marathons together, although it could. It could be taking a class together, reading a book together, swapping recipes or DIY ideas, volunteering together, doing a Bible study together. You get the idea.)
4. Does this person point you back to Jesus?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then this is someone worth your investment. Nobody can meet all of these criteria every time you get together. One time you have a blast laughing and playing cards. The next time you talk about what you’re reading. The next time you share what Scripture has touched your heart lately. Awesome! Sounds like you’ve found yourself a friend.
But if every time you’re with someone you feel like you had to pretend you knew about something, so you wouldn’t sound dumb, or you are tempted to start gossiping about some mutual friends, or are always doing things that are borderline toxic for you – watching an inappropriate movie, slipping into bad language, telling others white lies to cover your tracks – beware!
Just like we have a certain amount of calories that are ideal for our bodies to function each day, and a certain number of dollars in our bank accounts to spend, we have a limited number of free hours to devote to relationships. How are you going to spend them?
And if you’re in a relationship with someone who you answered mostly “no” to the questions above, then what?
1. Take the proactive role. Suggest healthy activities to do together—go see Night at the Museum 3, grab frozen yogurt and chat about your goals for 2015, go on a walk together somewhere with great scenery.
2. Pray before your time with that person, that you can be true to yourself, to the person God created you to be.
3. If after doing giving one and two the old college try, you find yourself still feeling manipulated, unappreciated, unworthy or uneasy put your foot down. Start filling your schedule less and less with this person, and seek out new friends or time with other friends who help you be more like the awesome child of God that you are!
Anything else? Anyone have other litmus tests for how to determine if your relationship is worth getting a parking ticket for, or how to resolve or bow out of friendships that aren’t?
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