Obstacle #5: Relationship Challenges - When to Take Space
When you have a relationship that’s really taking a toll on you, when is it time to take some space from it?
This is a hard question for me, because I’m a peacemaker at heart. I’ll go to great lengths to get along with others, and to help others to get along. I have this deep desire for people to understand and appreciate one another, instead of fighting.
Yet, as much as I long for peace, there are times when I’ve watched people close to me go through really heavy relationship struggles. I’ve experienced a bit of that, myself. And I’ve had to come to terms with the reality that sometimes peacemaking is not the answer.
Sometimes, someone’s heart is in the blender. Or they’re feeling hopeless and trapped. They’re losing track of who they are. Sometimes, they’re even in danger.
At times like these, it’s appropriate to consider taking some space from a relationship, or limiting exposure to it.
Still, I believe that it’s crucial that I handle this topic carefully. God values relationships so highly. The second most important commandment is to love your brother as yourself. Thus, I’m going to spell this out with Biblical principles.
There are four situations in which it’s clear that you can consider taking some space from a relationship.
1. When there’s abuse. (Col 3:19, Ps. 11:5, Exodus 21:26)
2. When the person consistently won’t listen to you, or take responsibility for their actions. (Matthew 18:15-17. Proverbs 12:15, Psalms 36:2)
3. When you find yourself succumbing to the negative influence of the person, in spite of your efforts to resist. (I Cor 15:33, Exodus 34:15, Matthew 18:8)
4. When it’s obvious that the person isn’t open to you, and that your time would be better spent elsewhere. (Matthew 7:6, Luke 9:5)
And then, here some other red flags, in my opinion, for you to think about:
1. They think they’re always right. (Which means, to them, you’re always wrong.)
2. They refuse to change or compromise.
3. They don’t have control over their anger, and their expression of anger affects you.
4. They don’t respect the boundaries you’ve communicated to them.
5. They betray your trust.
6. They habitually lie to you.
7. They’ve wounded you deeply, but express no remorse or compassion.
8. They pull your attention away from your top priorities.
9. They’ve hurt you deeply enough that you need space to heal.
10. Interactions with them often leave you feeling troubled for days.
11. They’re like a parasite, continuously using you to meet their needs.
Yet, even with all of this, you want to pray for wisdom before taking action. (Unless there’s abuse.) Have you done your part, and tried everything you can to improve the relationship and to work on your heart? Check out my previous posts for ideas.
How much should you learn to be patient, and even love your enemies and turn the other cheek? If you’re a Christian, this is an important part of your walk. You want to be like Christ. You want to be a good influence on that person.
So, it's complicated. And it should be. People are valuable. It's taken me longer to write this post, than almost any other.
I think one big factor in making this big decision on when to give a relationship some space is knowing yourself. Are you like me, and tend to hold onto a relationship too long? You may need to steel yourself to move away. Are you too quick to let go? You may need to pray for strength to push through longer.
Again, pray for wisdom. You were made to shine! Sometimes you can shine by being giving and patient. And sometimes you're going to need to do something about that thing that's diming your light.
I believe in you!