Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Seventy Times Seven?

It’s been quite challenging for me lately, as far as debating whether or not to continue a journey of friendship with someone I cared for very much. We’re all complex and have our own opinions, beliefs and whatnot. It’s normal. But when an argument or a disagreement takes place, when is it time to draw the line in order to decide whether or not staying in the friendship is a healthy choice? It’s one thing for two people to disagree about whatever, but it’s another to insult or attack another on a personal level. For instance: you and a friend argue about a misunderstanding or perhaps, a break in a promise that was set - those things can be resolved. But when your friend personally attacks you - whether it’s about your physical appearance, insults about your family or maybe an attack on your integrity: when does it come to the point of realizing your friend obviously has hidden resentments, anger or even jealousy toward you? 

I ended a friendship a couple of weeks ago. This person returned to me to give me advice on what to reveal on my Twitter account. (An obvious excuse to communicate.) I asked her politely if she would stop all contact with me, due to her past verbal abuse and personal attacks. The friendship turned toxic and yet, I truly and genuinely forgive this person, but I also choose to stay away from her, only because it happens more often than I can handle. I wished her the best, but I was very honest and explained that, yes I totally forgive the words she lashed out at me, the threat to my family and friends, (about slandering them online) and all of the outbursts I have endured during this friendship. There were good times. I won’t ever forget them. But at the same time, I don’t think I can ever forget the hurt and pain of her words echoing throughout my mind about all the terrible things she has said to me. I always get, “I was just mad at you, I’m sorry”, and then it’s back to buddies again. But how many times do I have to experience this?

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’” -Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. I forgive her. However, choosing to stay in the friendship is another thing. I have no hard feelings toward this person, but I do remember, I’m only human. I am not resentful or wish bad upon her - I just want to leave things be and move on. I remember I was on the other side of this scenario too. I remember begging for forgiveness because I too, had verbally attacked someone and regretted it afterwards. That person forgave me, but chose to stay out of the friendship because she was so hurt by it. Through growing pains of maturing, I am learning more and more that forgiveness starts with loving ourselves and realizing that YES we can forgive those who hurt us terribly, and at the same time, we have a choice to improve our overall well-being by staying out of toxic friendships and relationships. If I didn’t learn the hard way, I probably wouldn’t understand it today. I’m thankful I went through what I did---having a friend choosing not to stay, because today, I’m understanding that to “forgive and forget” does not mean to lose all self-respect. I love myself too much to ever go through that type of abuse.


CP said...

People enter our life for various reasons. Sometimes, they enter just to teach lessons such as this one. You have learned it. It is now time to let them go and move on. Someone will come in to take this persons place and you will learn new lessons from them as well. We aren't meant to keep everyone in our lives. They roll in and out like the tides, Deb. You always remember the feel of the cool water they splashed upon you...and then, they roll away and the next one comes in bearing new gifts.

Let the toxic go. Life is too short.

Deb said...

Thank you for understanding me, CP. I truly appreciate it. Sometimes, the person feels that just because I have chosen to turn away from the friendship, yet forgive them, means that I have hate in my heart. It's so far from the truth. It's just that I have a limit of the amount of times where someone will verbally abuse me. I don't know if I could live up to that scripture that I had listed... it's just too many times to sit there and constantly take the abuse. It hurts.

Peta Joy said...

Forgive and forget? I don't think so. I can, and have, forgiven people that have done me wrong over the years, but I DO NOT forget. To forget the past only leaves you open to more crapolo in the future. Forgive, yes - eventually. Forget. Never.

Parveen said...

do me wrong once...shame on you, do me wrong twice...shame on me!

Grax said...

Has there been any record in the Bible that state that Jesus did something similar to you Debs? As in "I forgive you, but I'm not going to hang out with you anymore because, well, you're quite a toxic person"?

This is an open question to anyone who can answer it.

the walking man said...

Now you have the right attitude Deb...forgive the past and carry forward in the present as you will with whom you will.

Deb said...

Grax, good point because the seventy times seven seemed like an awful lot, but again I ask, when does it come down to losing all self-respect and going back to this abusive person? As far as Jesus goes, he came to earth to be sacrificed for us ---knowing all along that he had someone that was planning his death. He went along with this to save everyone from sin.

Knowing that I have forgiven this person quite a few times for her lashing out at me, it brought me down. There is nothing wrong with letting go of someone who tears down your spirit.

Here's a basic English version of Matthew 18:8 regarding anything, anyone who causes you to stumble in life or perhaps, come to your limits and "sinning" yourself by retaliating out of anger. I am not perfect, which is why I want to stay out of this friendship because this woman is so toxic 'for' me.

"And if your hand or your foot is a cause of trouble, let it be cut off and put it away from you: it is better for you to go into life with the loss of a hand or a foot than, having two hands or two feet, to go into the eternal fire."

So, meaning, if "this friend" is causing me trouble, cut them off and put them away from you... (Even though I still want my limbs - ie: friendship, it's better for me to cut this person off.)

And of course, Jesus was a much stronger person here on earth than I can ever hope to be, and in my weakness, He is my strength. But nevertheless, I'm human, weak, and it hurts to much to be emotionally abused by someone you care for, which is why I choose to close the door on this friendship.

I hope that makes better sense. :)

TWM, Thank you... moving forward but never forgetting.

Beth said...

Good for you!! Forgiveness is such a challenge, I am still learning about it all the time. It is much more about yourself, and something you do for yourself, than the other person. Without forgiveness, anger and hate can build up inside of us and turn us into cold people, always looking for the next person who is going to screw us over.

I completely understand this. I have been there myself. I am proud of ya.