Do you ever feel as if other people are draining the life out of you? Like they are constantly taking from you and not giving anything in return?
I know that I have felt like this in the past in both friendships and relationships. Something in me has screamed out, THIS ISN’T RIGHT. But I haven’t known how to make it better. Part of me has felt guilty for having this feeling in the first place. Aren’t we supposed to lovely Christian people who are kind all the time? How can we do that without letting other people down? How can we be kind without being a pushover?
Maybe people have told you to guard your heart, but you’re really not sure what on earth that means. If I’m honest with you, I’m not certain either, but I think there are some things that you can do to help protect yourself from pain and hurt.
It is okay to say no.
At school we were taught to just say no to drugs and alcohol. But did you know it’s okay to say no to nice people as well. It’s okay to say no to people you love, its even okay to say no to church people. You don’t have to take part in every activity or ministry going on. When someone asks you for a lift to somewhere you don’t want to go, for the millionth time, you don’t have to give them one.
You can’t love someone better.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could. Unfortunately years in an abusive marriage showed me that no matter how well you love someone, they may never change. It still breaks my heart, and I still struggle to understand it. But no matter how patient or kind you are, no matter how much crap you put up with. You cannot change other people. And this is exactly how God feels. He loves people perfectly, and yet many still choose not to love him back.
If you feel uncomfortable about someone, there’s probably a reason.
Yes, we should be kind to everyone, but we don’t have to let everyone into our lives. Have you ever felt really unsure about someone, but because you’re a lovely person you continued in a friendship or relationship with them, despite the warning signs. Then later regretted it. I am not going to go as far as to say that these feelings are from God, although they may be. But he gave you common sense. If you feel unsure about whether someone has your best interests at heart, tread carefully and pray for discernment.
You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend.
When I was younger I really wanted to be everyone’s best friend. I would go out of my way trying to get everyone to like me. Recently I realised that friendships are a two way street. If I’m always the person who texts first, or goes out of my way to be there for them, I back off. There are plenty of other people who will put effort into a friendship. You are worth more than empty promises of meeting up. You can have real friends. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. There are people I believe God has told me to become friends with. People who I have gone out of my way to befriend for a long while. These friendships have been a great blessing to me. But you don’t have to best friends with every single person you meet. There’s not enough time for that.
Ask for support.
I can remember one a time in my life, where for a period of many weeks (it may have even been months) I was inexplicably sad, and cried my self to sleep regularly. One night I realised I needed to share these feelings with a friend. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders overnight. I felt happier than I had done for months. I’m not saying that all problems can be solved this easily, but sharing a problem is always a good idea. We are not just part of a church to minister to others, but to be ministered to as well.
You know that great feeling you get when you help someone? Well why not let someone else get that feeling by helping you?
I final note. If you find that you struggle in any of these areas, I can highly recommend the book Boundaries By Henry Cloud and John Townsend.