We all want a sense of belonging and understanding in our lives, and we usually find these in our families, friends, and organizations. But let’s face it, not all of our human relationships are perfect, and they may leave us frustrated, annoyed, and irritated.

You’ve tried understanding the person; you’ve tried extending “the olive branch”; you’ve even tried faking it. You’ve also tried sharing verses, being patient, and even turning the other cheek.

But no matter how hard you try, you just couldn’t stand being around that person anymore. For some reason, your relationship with this person has spiralled downward and sucked the life out of you.

What do you do when a relationship becomes toxic? Is there ever a right time to consider cutting ties with a person, let alone a friend? Aren’t we supposed to never give up on people?

Defining TOXIC

Before we proceed with the rest of this article, let us first drop these truths about human relationships:

  • Humans are imperfect beings. Because of this, all human relationships are imperfect and can really be challenging. We can all be unreasonable, selfish, biased, and full of issues sometimes. Just because a person has mood swings or a strange personality does not mean that that person is toxic and should be avoided entirely.
  • We are commanded—not just encouraged—to love one another. Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34). Paul admonished us to live peaceably with everybody (Romans 12:18). This is not just a random suggestion; it should be part of our lifestyle.
  • There are relationships that we can’t just let go of. There are relationships that we can afford to consider severing, but there are those that we can’t just let go of—no matter how toxic it may be. This includes your relationship with your biological family, your spiritual family, and your (future) spouse.
    Our default as Christians is to love others unconditionally, forgive perpetually, and consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Letting go of a relationship is not our initial response because we don’t believe in disposable relationships.

But the Bible also reminds us to apply wisdom in our relationships by walking with the wise and staying away from people who could influence us towards destruction (Proverbs 13:20).

When do we call it quits? How do I find the balance between fighting for something and fleeing away?
A relationship is toxic when it has become . . .

Terrible
Obnoxious
(e)Xcessive
Insensitive and
Compromising

It’s when a relationship hurts you more than it helps and drags you down instead of bringing you up. It sucks the life out of you, fills you with so much negativity, and forces you to compromise your beliefs and standards. Many times, you feel like you’re stuck in a game of candy crush and you have no moves left. The longer you stay in this toxic relationship, the worse you become.

When you find yourself in this situation, the following insights may help you decide on whether to keep that relationship or to consider letting it go.

1. In life, there are seasons.

When we know the seasons of the relationships we have, it may not make it easier to let go, but it gives us a better picture of what we could be when we let go of certain things to make room for the new.

2. Some endings are necessary.

Endings are very much a part of life. When trees fall in forests, this gives way for new organisms to live, flourish, and thrive. You see, not all endings are failures in the same way that not all beginnings are successes. Factoring the seasons in our lives, we can better understand what God wants for us at that moment.

3. Sometimes the only way to grow is to let old branches go.

So, when you do get to the point where you ask yourself, should I distance myself from this person? You shouldn’t be afraid to consider that, knowing that what you are about to do isn’t based on selfishness or spite. It is actually based on love and faith.

There are moments when all we can do is love them from afar and stop pretending that we can change them. We need to constantly have moments where we just offer the relationship up to God in faith, knowing that He is the one who changes hearts.

And even when we are placed in a situation where we can’t let go of them because of who they are in our lives, expect that God will either move and change them, or move and change you! (Maybe even both!) We may not all have the choice to stay away from toxic people, and we may even be what others consider toxic, but God is the God who cures the cursed, heals the hurt, and restores the wretched.

Remember:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:18–21

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