I’ve had sort of a fascination lately with things that don’t work. Actually, it’s less of a fascination than simply having reality thrust upon me. I wrote here last week about how as much as we would like to believe any dream can come true with enough hard work and perseverance, that sometimes just isn’t the case. As much as we are taught to never give up, there are certain dreams will have to walk away from.

And there are certain people we will have to walk away from as well.

For whatever reason, there are certain combinations of people who mix about as well as oil and water. I want to toxic-manbelieve that every relationship can mended, that bridges should never be burned, that differences can be worked out. What I have experienced, though, is a world in which relationships have the potential to turn so toxic they end up almost literally poisoning the people involved in them. For the sake of personal preservation, these relationships have to be terminated.

I experienced this first-hand not that long ago. Someone I used to consider a friend wounded me very deeply. Suddenly, we couldn’t even exchange an email without ending up in an argument of some sort. My relationship with this person was contributing nothing good to my life, and I was adding nothing to his as well. So, instead of continuing to drag each other down, we parted ways. I wish I could say I missed him … but I really don’t.

That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? The fact is, however, that there are tales out there that are far more heartbreaking than mine. Children who have to cut ties with their parents. Siblings who no longer speak to each other. Sometimes not even blood is strong enough to save a relationship. While each of these scenarios is heartbreaking, in many instances they had to happen. I don’t understand why. I’m not sure anyone does.

This might be the point where a person would appeal to a religion, such as Christianity, and say that we must love our enemies and be kind to them. Well, Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. There is no clear distinction in scripture as to who was right and who was wrong in their quarrel. What is clear is that two men who were as close as brothers reached such an impasse that they had to physically go in different directions. They survived persecution together, but they could not find a way to co-exist with one another.

I hate conflict, but I also hate walking away from a relationship. I will hang on long past the point when I probably should, just because it is so hard for me to imagine that giving up on a person is the right thing to do. Sometimes, though, that is exactly the right thing to do. I just pray I will have the wisdom to know when to hang on, when to let go, and when the fight simply isn’t worth it anymore.

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