1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
I think we should let go of a friend when he or she is going too far astray, or if that person is not the kind of person you want to become. Friends can really bring you up or down to their level. The process doesn’t really take long.
It’s lonely and painful when you have to do it. At least unpleasant. You will have to endure the vacuum—that hole your friend leaves inside you. You have to really say no when they ask you out.
I think most people don’t do that enough. It’s an evil time. We need to change our people more often, until we find the right ones.
If we let the mediocre or negative people occupy the friend roles, new people can’t come in to replace them.
There was a long time when I had to change people so often. It was natural. I didn’t have to “break up” with some friends—I just had to not stay. I just moved on and on, meeting new people, and sought after people I looked up to.
In time, I have come to emulate good qualities from good people.
Sometimes though, some friends did become a negative influence in my life, but they won’t go away. I had to tell them repeatedly what the problem was, but they would come back again and again, without changing their attitudes, or acknowledging the problems.
It could easily become a mud pit. They might twist my words, or put words into my mouth, and accuse me of abandoning them, that I was sinning for not loving them unconditionally. They kept their old ways, however, and they acted like they were entitled to it because we were Christians (sometimes it was the Christian that you need to cut off, and that they were Christians make it even more necessary for you to cut them off as they are being held to a higher standard than unbelievers).
The truth was, these people were just using me for their own validations. As long as I stayed in that negative relationship, it somehow assured that they were okay, that there were nothing wrong.
When I got stuck in these situations, it felt like a mud pit. I felt like nothing work out for me. I felt stuck. I felt like everything looked gloomy, and I couldn’t exercise my potential properly when these people were around. They were so critical, negative, and mean. They just wanted to keep me to their level, but when I brought up new ideas and goals, they would resist them.
It made me feel bad about myself. The ironic thing was, the worst I felt about myself, the more I sought their company and validation. The vicious cycle fed on itself.
I met a girl a few months ago when I performed a stand up in a bar. She was alone, and she looked like she was on drug. She was the only girl in the place. The men were smoking weeds and drinking. Naturally I talked to her, seeing if she needed help and if she would hear about God.
I bought her a latte that night. Since that night, whenever I was in the area where she lived, I would text her to see if she wanted to talk. She was on heavy medication for bipolar and depression. I wanted to know why. I asked her about her family, her past, and everything. I tried to tell her about the Bible.
Recently, she told me she was prostituting herself. She met a pimp earlier, and worked with him for a short while, and now she was working by herself.
We talked about it. I even told her dad about the pimp. She didn’t stop. Unfortunately, she saw me as a John now. She saw my charity as payment for her time. She thought I was buying her foods because we were on “dates”.
We had an understanding before, that I was doing nice things because I was a Christian and I wanted to help. She agreed. But later, her mind somehow rationalized things to the point that she thought I was attracted to her.
Every time we met, she just asked me to buy her foods or pay for drinks. I simply wanted to introduce her to a group of my friends, who were Jewish (she was a Jew). And finally I did manage to do that for her. I had the heart to help out this lonely, wayward Jewish girl, and hoped to introduce friends she could identify with.
But the last time we met, I had had enough about her freeloader attitude. She accused me for being a John. Now I realized how far she had gone. She really came to rationalize her prostitute way, to the point that every male was somehow a John.
A brief confrontation about the definition of “John”, and we parted way. I felt humiliated. It wasn’t so bad for me, as I never expected a very good outcome for helping her out, given her condition, and that my first impression of her was already quite bad.
I had consolation from God in the following passage, because I already tried my best, even though I could have done better.
Luke 14: 12-13
“Suppose you give a lunch or a dinner,” he said. “Do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, or your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they may invite you to eat with them. So you will be paid back.
13 “But when you give a big dinner, invite those who are poor. Also invite those who can’t walk, the disabled and the blind. 14 Then you will be blessed. Your guests can’t pay you back. But you will be paid back when those who are right with God rise from the dead.”
Another example. I met a friend I knew from University time. He could never hold to a job because of his problem with focus, which I could identify, because of my ADHD condition. I was sympathetic because I wasn’t better than him. I could identify similar struggles we both have.
I tried to give him friendly advice on how to eat better, exercise better, to manage the problem he had with focus at work. I understood how hard it was to not being able to focus at work.
However, he resigned again recently, and this time he wasn’t planning to look for work again. He wanted to marry a rich woman, and never work again.
I was revolted by his idea, but we talked about it at a dinner. Since then, I never saw him again. I knew I couldn’t afford to keep him as friend. His freeloader attitude will be contagious. I didn’t want someone like that near me. I didn’t even give him a farewell. I just didn’t return calls.
I knew if I continue to interact with him, my own financial struggle will get only worst. Laziness is contagious. Attitude is very important, and if someone with the wrong attitudes and excuses remain a part of your world, you will soon become more and more like that person too.
You can’t change people all the time. Often, people get very defensive and vicious if you try to change them. The bad things they could do to you will get tattooed into your mind and cause pains if you let them. You have to restrict their access to you, or let them go, even if they are someone close—including family members.
If that person is someone you can’t avoid, you can still mentally turn him or her off. Tell yourself that what that person does or says to you is irrelevant, that it has no control over you. I find that helps. The Bible has plenty of good verses that you can use to create a mental shield against anyone who might mess with your mind. There are many techniques in how to do it. One simple way is to recite a lot of passages from the Bible when that person opens his or her mouth.
For someone who is shy to make new friends, or who is too tenderhearted to cut off anyone, it can be hard. And for someone who has a long history of being controlled by others, it is hard too. Don’t give up though, you really do need to let go sometimes. The Bible can help you stay strong. The words of God can neutralize vicious attacks that some people could launch at you, and can help you know when it was right to cut off someone. They might try to put you through guilt trips and turn the table back on you. Their departure might make you feel empty for a time, but for your long term well being, you got to do what you got to do.