Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Dropping Toxic People

Ahhh, Facebook. The joys of watching other people spiral into a cycle of ever depressing memes, What did we ever do before your glorious awakening?

I pretty much hate memes, but for some reason everything the Facebook criteria puts in my feed has a picture, which unfortunately includes memes. Some of the more recent ones that a select few Facebook friends have shared or posted are about "dropping toxic people". Everyone is smiling and nodding their heads, "Yeah, we don't want those people in our lives."

Please keep in mind, I am NOT talking about abusive people. I'm talking about those people that hurt us in other ways that are not intentional. You know, those horrible people who don't text back right away, or invite you to their house when you invited them to yours. Seriously? That's all it takes to become a "toxic person" and get "dropped"? Well, according to the world of memes, apparently so.

The idea behind this is the concept of "social currency". If I "invest" myself in someone else, I need to get a return on my investment. Again, I am shocked, but not entirely. The idea is that we don't have time to "waste" on people who won't respond in kind. In other words, if I'm a better friend to someone else than they are to me, then I shouldn't be friends with them.

Here's the problem with this concept. I am a terrible friend right now. I have 3 little boys, I have a part-time job, I have responsibilities with my church, small group, discipleship/accountability group, running a co-op, talking with my family, keeping my house in reasonable order. I don't always have the time or ability to be the best friend I can be to EVERYONE in my social circle. So, because I know that I am not the best friend I can be right now, I don't expect other people to be either. Sure, I have friends who neglect to invite me to things. In all honesty, they probably think I don't have time. I have friends who say things without thinking (if we were really keeping score I probably am winning the "foot in mouth" race though). I even have friends who have let me down in very specific, intentional and hurtful ways, BUT I am still friends with all of these people.

We don't live in a world where we react to things the same way. I have friends with anxiety, friends with depression, friends with kids who have special needs, friends with no kids, friends who like me and people who I consider friends who probably don't consider me one of their friends. And, I am at a place in my life where I am okay with that. I don't have to be friends with only the people who are "better friends than me" although that doesn't take much at this point in my life. I can be friends with people I don't always like or agree with. I can give without expecting a return. I can invite without expecting an invitation. I can love, regardless of whether I am loved in return.

How? Why? What would make me do such insane things? I am loved and accepted by God. Regardless of my sin and attitude. Regardless of my pride and self-centeredness. Regardless of the current status of my friendship towards Him, He still sent His Son to die in my place. When I think of how I've treated God at different times over my life, and how humanity has and continues to treat him, and his overwhelming love for each and every single person on this earth, no matter how criminal they may be or how much they hate or ignore Him, how can I expect a fellow sojourner to keep tally of my love towards them and love me exactly the same? I need to be filled with that overwhelming love for even the most toxic people in my life. Not in a way to let them hurt me or abuse me, but simply to show the grace that I've already been shown. I literally cannot judge my fellow human beings, because I have been washed clean, and they can be as well.

The amazing part is, when we realize this, those toxic people can't hurt us anymore. Not because we kick them out of our lives, but because we don't judge them for their brokenness. I can't be offended by something my friend says or does, because I can understand how it happens. I know how fragile our hearts and minds can be. I know how easily I can speak a word that hurts without meaning it. I know how my pride and judgment can get in the way of relationships. I am not perfect and never will be on this earth. And it's okay with me if you aren't perfect either.
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