A famous motivational speaker named Jim Rohn said that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
I think it is biblical and wise to use discernment in determining our best friends because the people we spend time with effect our thoughts, motivate our behavior and shape our lives. If you are unsure about a situation bring the concern to God and ask for insight. The Bible encourages us to pray for wisdom as it says in James 1:5 “If any of you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
I would say I am a loyal person, sometimes loyal to a fault. I have had a few “friends” that were harmful; I continued to spend time with them despite my better judgement. I realized I can still love them and pray for them without being besties with them. Not everyone we meet will be our best friends. Eddie Kaufholz has a great blog post about when it is ok to end a friendship from a Christian persepective.
There are a few warning signs I overlooked when I allowed these toxic friendships into my life. I want to remind you “do not be misled: “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
It’s All About Them
Have you ever met a person who only talks about themselves?
One time I went out to dinner with a girl“friend”. Blake and I had just recently started dating. It was new budding relationship and a very exciting time in my life. I was bubbling over with enthusiasm about this amazing man in my life that I was getting to know. During dinner we talked about her health, her work and her new living situation. We talked about her almost the whole time. Toxic friends can be pushy, demanding and selfish. They are less concerned for your welfare and more interested in what you can do for them.
Hello! Red flag! This was very much a one-sided conversation. (Of course there will be times in the duration of a friendship that one person has a lot to share and dominates the conversation, but that should not happen every time. I am talking about a pattern of behavior).
“Unfriendly people care only about themselves” Proverbs 18:1
Friendships require mutual effort and investment.
Jealous of Your Success
I was also afraid to tell this “friend” about Blake for fear of her response. I didn’t think she would respond with excitement, encouragement or support like my other besties. Instead, I imagined she would say something like “That’s great for you, but why can’t I find a guy like that”? I noticed my guarded response and wondered “Why am I afraid to tell a “friend” about something really great going on in my life”?
Hello! Red flag! That’s not a true friend. No one should have to hide parts of their life because of another’s jealousy. The roots of jealousy could possibly be an insecurity (which is another topic for another day).
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
A soul-sister celebrates with you in your joy and grieves with you during your pain.
I made plans with one girlfriend for a fun day adventure. On the morning of, this friend asked if another girlie could tag along. “Sure thing, “ I happily replied. We had a great day full of fun and laughter!
Shortly after I posted some pics of the day on social media, I received a text from a different “friend.” (I wished I would have saved the texting conversation because it is almost comical how ridiculous it was). This “friend” was upset that she was not invited to the event. I apologized and told her my intent was not to make her feel left out. She then went on to complain and criticize me because she felt like I should invite her to every hang out I plan with others. It baffles me to think that another person feels entitled to an invitation to every social event I am a part of. There was an enormous pressure on our friendship to fill her void of loneliness. Boothe Blanton Farley shares biblical insight about having healthy boundaries and clear priorties in friendship.
Hello! Red flag! There was not a healthy response saying “Looks like you had fun today. We haven’t seen each other in awhile. I really miss you! Can we make plans to hang out soon?” Instead of having a calm conversation there was an aggressive attack.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully” Proverbs 12:26
Don’t try to be all things for all people that will lead to resentment, disappointment, burn out and even depression.
Toxic Friends Bring Out the Worst In You
Have you ever evaluated the way you feel after spending time with someone?
There are some people I feel weighed down by after spending time with them- frustrated by their apathy, defeated by their negativity and drained by their victim-mentality. Our time together leaves me feeling depleted and defeated.
Of course, not every occurance with a friend is going to be unicorns, rainbows and butterflies. There will be seasons of discouragement and hopelessness. But the key word is seasons.
I’m talking about a pattern of behavior. The toxic friendships I’ve had in my life pulled me down. I would spend time with them to try to encourage them. There was potential I wanted to inspire, possibilities I was cheering them to pursue. Then I realized I wanted them to change more than they were willing to transform themselves. They were content grumbling about their circumstances while putting in zero effort to change the exact circumstances they were complaining of. It’s like a baby crying because they have a poopy diaper but being unwilling to let the diaper that is causing them discomfort be removed.
Hello! Red Flag! It is concerning if the person is unwilling to listen, stubborn to change and resistant to loving input.
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Proverbs 13:20
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is say “no”, create boundaries and put distance between yourself and that person.
Although I do not spend the majority of my time with toxic “friends” that are damaging, destructive and disatrous, I still care about them and want the best for them. I love everyone, but am careful with how I spend my time and who I spend my time with. I love everyone, but am conscious of who I bring into my inner-circle because of the impact people have on my heart, mind and life.
Use your discernment and God’s guidance in the journey. All I’m saying is- be conscious of who you surrond yourself with. I pray that love and grace are evident while also highlighting the importance of wisdom and discernment.