Just a little back story to this post, I am someone who puts others first often and someone who wants to be there for my friends whenever they need someone. I have a hard time saying “no,” because I don’t like to let someone down. Growing up, I had a “best friend” that tended to take advantage of that. Looking back, I can’t believe some of the things I dealt with. I don’t want to go too much into detail, but some of the things this person said and did are not things you would do to a friend. I constantly felt like I was being pulled down, but I did nothing about it for years. In my mind, I always justified what she did and just brushed it off.
I grew up in church and one message in particular has resonated with me for years. It was a lesson about friendship using an analogy from the story of Jonah. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Jonah, he was called by God to go into the city of Nineveh. This city was known for its wickedness and Jonah tried to run from God, instead of going to the city he was called to. Instead, he headed in the opposite direction and made his way onto a ship. Consequently, God sent violent storms. Through conversations with each other and with Jonah, the crew of the ship determined that Jonah was the cause of the storm. They felt guilt contemplating throwing him overboard, but Jonah insisted. He knew that once they threw him overboard the sea would calm, and it did.
This story was compared to toxic friendships and relationships. This could be relationships with a friend or family. When there is someone in your life causing a “storm,” it is okay to “throw them off of your ship,” for your personal well-being. Throwing someone off of your ship can look different depending on the situation. It could mean removing someone from your life completely, but it could also mean distancing yourself from someone and creating healthy boundaries. In my case, it was a little of both. I still see this person occasionally through a mutual friend, but I keep her at an arm lengths away and set up a boundary for myself.
You don’t have to be friends with someone who just brings negativity into your life. It is okay to say no to verbal/ mental abuse, manipulation and constant put-downs. It is okay to say no to someone who only contacts you when they need someone. Distancing myself was easier to do after we graduated high school, but I wish I would have taken the initiative to do it sooner. It can be hard to do when someone is telling you that you aren’t good enough and try to guilt you into spending time with them instead of other friends.
As for Jonah, he was swallowed by a large fish and after spending 3 days and 3 nights in its belly, the fish spit Jonah onto dry land and he ended up going to Nineveh. I have since surrounded myself with people who are uplifting and encouraging. You deserve people that treat you well and that want you to be successful and happy. And people who help you get there. It is a lot easier to drag someone down, then to lift someone up. If you have anyone in your life who is dragging you down, don’t be afraid to throw them off of your ship.
Thanks for reading!