Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Does Love Mean I Should Treat Everyone the Same Way?

We'd dated for a few months before I decided it was time to call it quits after it became clear to me our relationship wasn't what I wanted. Friendship sounded like the right thing to do when we broke up. After all, we had several friends in common and even took some of the same classes. Surely we were mature enough to be able to keep our friendship. 

Over the weeks after our breakup, it became increasingly difficult to be "friends" with my ex-boyfriend. He wanted to hang out one-on-one. He wanted a shoulder to cry on, and a friend to road trip with, and someone to study with. All of those things were definitely things I would do with any of my other friends. But I felt like there needed to be a line with him. No one-on-one time or road trips or crying shoulders. When I told him that, he frowned. 

"But...we're friends. And I want you to treat me just like you treat all our other friends. I deserve to be treated the same ways as everyone else." His eyes teared up. 

The undercurrent of his words struck me in the heart. Did he really deserve equal treatment? Was it unloving of me to draw parameters around our friendship? Was treating him differently than my other friends wrong?

I decided to stick to my decision. Unfortunately, he didn't feel like my boundaries were important, and I felt completely disrespected so I made the decision to end our friendship altogether. For months afterwards, I battled feelings of uncertainty. I didn't want to look like I hated him. I didn't want to be that girl who didn't love others. 

Craig Groeschel, author and pastor, said this in his book Soul Detox"Our boundaries will help us to enjoy the good people without inhaling the bad. If you think that sounds unnecessary, realize that even Jesus regularly set boundaries. Our Savior loved everyone equally, but He didn’t treat everyone equally. There’s a big difference."

That person wasn't a good person for me to spend time with. The damage I'd allowed him to do to my self-esteem and my friendships with others wasn't worth any extra time. During one tear-filled journaling session, I realized he was a toxic person to me, and if I wanted to grow and thrive as a healthy young woman, we needed to stay away from each other. That boundary was hard for me. 

Pastor Steven Furtick said, "God’s command for you to love everyone is not permission for you to mismanage the investment that he’s put inside of you."

In drawing the line and saying that we couldn't continue our "friendship", what I was really telling myself was, "I'm guarding the investment God's put inside of me by choosing healthy relationships."

How do you build boundaries to promote healthy relationships in your own life? 

Ashley Mays is the former Editorial Assistant for Brio and Brio & Beyond magazines and currently writes her own fiction for teens. She enjoys rock climbing, people watching in airports, and hanging out with her mom, who is her best friend. Ashley lives with her husband in Colorado. No, they don't ski. Learn more about Ashley on facebooktwitter, or on her website.


Jessica said...

This was a really good and inspiring blog. Well written, Ashley. It made a lot of steps and I never actually thought about how some people can pull me back so much from flourishing. Wow! :)

Teen Blogger said...

Wow this is really touching. You're a great writer :))