Don’t you love movies where someone’s bad behavior is turned around by another person who just won’t give up on him? If only real life was like the movies…
We all strive to fulfill the ideal of Biblical love that, “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” But if we are hanging on to a toxic relationship that habitually damages our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, it may be time to look closely at what is driving our choice to stay connected.
Sometimes we hold on to what’s not working out of fear. If we let go we will lose control, the other person will fail and we will be blamed. Other times we stay close because it’s what other people expect us to do. Or it may be that we keep coming back for more because we fear the unknown–what would life really be like without our trouble-maker in the mix?
When I was dealing with my former husband’s alcoholic behavior, I went to Al-Anon meetings—a place for families to recover from the effects of living with alcoholism. There, I came to understand it is impossible to “fix” other people or make them change. I came to accept that I am powerless to control others or stop them from doing destructive things should they choose to continue doing them.
Over time I discovered the freedom of detachment with love. Detachment—letting go—means caring enough about someone to allow them to learn from their mistakes. As I refused to continue taking responsibility for my husband’s choices, stopped covering up for him, lying and making excuses for him, he was positioned to face and deal with the natural consequences of his behavior.
I wasn’t giving up – I was stepping aside for God to begin working in his life. From a distance I continued in prayer, never lost faith, and remained hopeful for a bounce-back and a change of heart that only God can bring about. It was hard to do but it was my best thing to do for there is “…A right time to embrace and another to part… A right time to hold on and another to let go.” Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 The Message