By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
Letting go of any friendship is difficult, yet we must let go of unhealthy friendships. If you are reading this, you probably already know you are in an unhealthy friendship. It is vital that you let go of this unhealthy friendship because it will only cause detriment to your own well-being, physical health, and emotional health. If you are struggling with letting go of unhealthy friendships, here are five ways to start releasing what was:
1. Let Go of Unforgiveness
The first way to let go of unhealthy friendships is to not hold onto unforgiveness. It is easy to hold onto unforgiveness after we have chosen to break away from a friendship, yet we need to relinquish how they hurt us. We cannot truly move forward unless we forgive the other person. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did is “okay.” Rather, forgiveness means you are choosing to give the situation over to God.
Toxic friendships will only cause pain in the long run. I have personally been involved with multiple unhealthy friendships, and they only caused me emotional problems and much pain. Instead of trying to hold onto those who use us, lie to us, or only come around when it's convenient, you need to walk away, choosing to forgive and move forward. Unforgiveness will only weigh you down and prevent you from moving on with your life. No matter how long you have been friends with someone, if the friendship turns unhealthy, it’s time to let go. It's not wrong; rather, it's healthy to let go of unhealthy friendships. And to truly let go, we must allow forgiveness into our hearts.
2. Invest in Healthy Friendships
A second way to let go of unhealthy friendships is to invest in healthy friendships. Instead of choosing to spend time in an unhealthy friendship, choose to invest more time in your healthy friendships. If you don’t have any friends outside of the unhealthy friendship, try to seek out new friends at school, work, or church. Pray for God to help you find friends who love the Lord, and He will help you. Investing in healthy relationships will be the catalyst to positive change not only in your friendships but also in your life.
Everyone deserves healthy friendships as we should all have friends we can turn to for help, advice, and a shoulder to cry on. God didn’t create us to be alone. He created us to be in community with others and to develop friendships with others. By investing in healthy friendships, you will be able to have a better view of others, the world, and yourself. More than not, if a person is involved in an unhealthy friendship, they will have a negative view of themselves and others. Through investing in healthy friendships, a person will be able to grow and thrive.
3. Spend Time with God
A third way to let go of unhealthy friendships is to spend time with God. Out of all the items I have listed in this article, this is probably the most overlooked way of letting go of unhealthy friendships— when it should be our first resort. It is a fact that human beings will fail us because we are all fallen (Romans 3:23). God is our best friend, and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even if we are alone for a period of time after we let go of an unhealthy friendship, we are never truly alone because God is always with us.
Choose to spend time with God and consult Him in prayer. Ask for His help and grace as you let go of this unhealthy friendship. The Lord does not want you to be involved with unhealthy friendships because He knows they will be detrimental to your own well-being. Spend time with God and choose to focus on Him and His Word. You will be better equipped to let go of an unhealthy friendship if you are spending time with God through an active prayer life and daily Bible reading.
4. Allow Yourself to Grieve
A fourth way to let go of unhealthy friendships is to allow yourself to grieve. Often, we only think of grieving after physically losing a loved one, yet we can grieve after the end of a friendship. Even if the friendship was unhealthy, there were likely many happy memories in the past. Due to past memories, it can hurt to let go, but it's crucial to allow yourself to grieve. There is not an exact timeline for grieving as you can take as much time as you feel you need.
By taking time to grieve, you will slowly be able to let go of unhealthy friendships. It is important during the grieving process that you do not let yourself hang on to the friendship because if it is an unhealthy friendship, it is time to cut the ties. Within unhealthy relationships and friendships, there is most likely toxic behavior, mean behavior, bullying, or even abuse. You must take time to grieve, yet you should not allow yourself to be pulled back into an unhealthy friendship. Take a stand and let go of the friendship to preserve your spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
5. Move On
A fifth way to let go of unhealthy friendships is by moving on. Moving on is probably the most difficult part of letting go of an unhealthy friendship, yet it is essential to heal and grow as an individual. You deserve to have true friendships that are healthy and build you up in the Lord. Unhealthy friendships will only cause drama, problems, and emotional damage. By moving on, you get a new start at friendships and at life. Do not let yourself be hindered from growing and thriving in your own life.
Cutting ties with unhealthy friendships and moving on is ultimately how you will leave the unhealthy friendship in the past. For many of my past unhealthy friendships, I had to cut off the friendship “cold turkey” to move on with my life. The unhealthy friendships I was a part of only caused me to question myself and my worth. I remember being at social events, and I was wondering, “What am I doing here?” I didn’t have anything in common with the people present, and my friendships with them were built on rocky grounds. Once you let go of unhealthy friendships and move on, you might be surprised at what it is like to have true friends.
Unhealthy friendships have to end because if we allow them to continue, they will only cause damage. Moving on is a beautiful thing, and it is a part of life. God doesn’t call us to live a stagnant life. He calls us to live a life of love, joy, and hope filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we allow ourselves to remain trapped in unhealthy friendships, we will quickly be drowned by self-doubt, destructive behaviors, and distancing ourselves from those who truly care about us. Choose to take the first step of moving on and walk away from the unhealthy friendship. There are true friends worldwide, yet they can be hard to find if all our time and efforts are consumed by unhealthy people. But when we find true, healthy friendships, the world changes for the better in our own lives.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.