I have said before that I *may* be the mother who will pick my children’s friends. I may do this until they’re old enough to drive! It’s not because I don’t trust them, but I don’t trust the devil. I am a mother and a Christian, and those two things make it my mission to protect my family from the devil. For now, I can control who interacts with my family. This means I don’t go out of my way to mingle with people who might hurt us by bringing ungodly things near us. It’s easy to be choosy about relationships. We choose to spend time with people we might have a connection with–people who give us something and who we want to give something to in return. If their beliefs, lifestyle, and behavior don’t jive with ours, inevitably we will drift apart. So, what if your joy-stealers aren’t friends? What if they’re part of your family?

Misery Loves Company

Periodically you meet a person who is genuinely unhappy and unpleasant, and they seem determined to spread the [un]joy. Sometimes these hurtful people aren’t someone you met at all, but someone you’re related to. Is it unchristian to distance yourself from people who hurt you? No. If someone condemns you for trimming the unhealthy relationships from your life in order to protect yourself and your family, remember that they don’t live it. You do.

The Real Life Family Feud

Family can be a touchy subject and there are many anecdotes about family that cut right to the core of our culture in America: blood is thicker than water, it runs in the family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, etc. Not too many years ago you were distinguished by your family. Strangers would ask for your family name to determine who you were–to size you up. What if your family isn’t who you want to be judged against or who you don’t want to be associated with?

The Bible says quite clearly that we don’t have to endure evil from others. In fact it says we shouldn’t. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.” We’re told in scripture not to take company with fools, ill-tempered, wicked, or deceitful men. The list is quite extensive, and we need to listen to counsel from the scriptures.

When It’s Time to Say Good-bye

When it’s time to say good-bye to family who hurts you, it doesn’t mean you are abandoning them. There are still a few healthy things that can be done for the relationship.

  1. Pray for your family or friend everyday.  
    Use all the energy that you were using to keep your unhealthy relationship from hurting you, and instead pray daily for your friend or family member who is hurting or may not know God.
  2. Keep the door open. 
    Follow Jesus’ example in all things. Jesus used many methods for reaching the lost that are still affective and helpful without putting yourself at risk. Read about Christ’s Way of Reaching People to get an idea.
  3. Spend time in the Word.
    It is important to maintain your own personal relationship with God. Keeping close to the Savior can save you from any situation, big or small.
  4. Surround yourself with Positive People.
    Proverbs 13:20 says those who walk with wise men will be wise. This is also true of other characteristics–good or bad. If you surround yourself with joyful, good, and honest people it’ll “rub off on you” in the same way.
  5. Be honest with your friend or family member.
    Although you have different lifestyles and values, you and this person care about each other (otherwise it wouldn’t bother you so much to distance yourself, and it wouldn’t hurt so badly when you’re close). Be honest with your friend or family member about why you aren’t coming around. Be honest, but not hurtful.