Most things in life have an expiration date—a time when it’s no longer safe to consume or keep around. Milk, medicine, and even batteries have an expiration date.
Some friendships need an expiration date, too. Similar to hanging on to expired milk or medicine. If you hang on to a friendship beyond its natural expiration date, it will sour and become distasteful to one or both parties. It could become toxic and unsafe.
It’s OK to accept that some friendships have an expiration date. Some of us have friends that we’ve grown beyond spiritually. We love them and encourage them, but instead of them bringing us up, they bring us down.
If you want to grow in your life, then examine the influences from those around you. Look for relationships with people who are going to encourage positive growth, that build and encourage you in every area of your life.
Consider the following identifiers for toxic, expired friendships that should be removed from your circle. These types of “friends” will typically have a very negative, stressful impact on your life.
- Experiential Friendships. Remember when you went to camp as a kid? You made a friend, and by the end of the week, you pledged to be best friends for life. Perhaps when you went home, you wrote them a letter. Maybe they even wrote you a letter in return. Then you never heard from them again.
- Phases of Life Friendships. The Bible teaches us that life has “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Times to plant and uproot…times to tear down and to build…times to mourn and to dance. Often, different folks come into our lives in connection with various seasons, and yet when that season ends we don’t end the friendship. Sometimes it just might be better if that relationship ends as well.
- Need-based Friendships. Maybe you’ve moved to a new area and you connected with a person as a result of a need. You made friends to help you survive in a new community. Perhaps you started attending a new church and you connected with someone because they made you feel welcome or involved you in ministry.
Those are all good things. But after a while, you might discover that those deep-rooted connections that are needed in a real friendship aren’t present in this relationship, and that it only served a purpose for a particular time in your life.
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