Safe People — and Those Who Aren’t

group of friends on beautiful beachI’ve been blessed with a few lifelong friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin. They are always ready to help if I have a need, and I can “let my hair down” and tell them anything, without fear of rejection. They have proven themselves trustworthy over the years, and they always bring out the best in me.

However, I’ve also had to dig deep into my heart to understand why I sometimes tolerate relationships with people who want to manipulate me or tear me down. In many cases, I’ve initially been attracted to such people because they seemed to be “experts”— with special insights or skills that seemingly could make my life better. But my openness to their expertise put me in a vulnerable position that eventually caused me to be hurt by the relationship.

Of course, sometimes we have no alternative but to be around someone who is “unsafe”—perhaps a relative, boss, or neighbor. There’s no shame in concluding that some people aren’t safe or healthy for us, but we should try to keep our contacts with such people to a minimum. When we must, we are wise to put on our “invisible force shield” to deflect the toxicity of these people. I have one friend who envisions herself surrounded by impenetrable light, which keeps her feeling safe and protected.

Even the healthiest of relationships can go through times of friction and be tested and refined in the fires of life. The key is in being able to spot the relationships that are worth refining in the fires and which ones we need to release.

Here’s the best gauge I can offer: Tried and true friends seek to encourage you and help you become the best you can be.

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