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Learning to let go of hurtful relationships

learning to let go

A thousand miles of silence lay behind me as my shaking hands found the courage to reach out. Misunderstanding and unforgiveness had destroyed what was once relationship and, though nothing in me wanted it back, I longed for peace. I wanted it so deeply I was willing to risk my pride, once again. Willing to submit in the sheer hope that grace would come.

Caught between my head and my heart was the power of five little words: Would you meet for coffee?

It was simple and ridiculous; how could it feel like so much? Packaging up my whole heart, I wondered if I was leaving it on the driveway of someone who had hurt me just so they could run over it again. On purpose. It didn’t matter. I knew to Whom my obedience was for, and it wasn’t me. I hit send while I held my breath. Pretending to be busy while anxiously awaiting a response, deep down I had a sneaking suspicion I would be hurt again. But I knew of no other way.

For way too long I sought the opinions and approval of people I could never please. No matter how hard I tried or how high I jumped I could never meet their expectations or demands. I believed if they turned me away that I somehow deserved it, even if I couldn’t figure it out. Though I have weathered many friendships; I have never once turned my back on a friend, to this day. I couldn’t understand what could cause a rift so deep when I couldn’t even determine what happened. Surely there was some mistake.

For a few seconds I believed it was something about them. Then I decided it must be me.

Turns out I wasn’t all wrong. And it wasn’t so much something about me, it was mostly something IN me. Broken by my own particular suffering, a part of me kept searching for my worth in unattainable places. Trying to heal something broken by achieving the impossible: approval from people who would never give it. Not because they were mean or cruel, but for the simple fact that they didn’t know how. Turns out something was broken in them, too.

Something that made me plus them equal failure. Every single time.

Over the last decade, God reinforced this lesson and taught it to me over and over in countless ways. Failed relationships, critical voices and friendships that eroded away. Family that would never be perfect no matter how hard I tried to make it so. For too many years I chased after the losses. Giving all of myself for absolutely nothing in return, I was desperate to fix what I could never control. Willing to carry the whole worrisome load; I would bend and even break if it meant I could get them back. And for what? Until what end?

Eventually I found my end. I got tired. My mom always says: “When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll do something about it.” It could be anything. This was my “it.” And my “something” was nothing. I stopped chasing.

A few years into sick and tired, on a very ordinary day, something clicked. Something countless people had told me but I couldn’t quite get to my heart: We don’t have to be friends with everybody. We don’t have to care what everyone thinks. We don’t have to twist ourselves into knots and turn ourselves inside out trying to fix something that demands to stay broken! Just because a relationship ends, doesn’t necessarily mean we did anything wrong and we don’t need to punish ourselves forever trying to figure it out. We are not in charge of the whole world and everyone in it…and it’s not our job to make everyone happy! Imagine my surprise. 

And though a part of me had always known it; it took a very long time to believe it. If I’m honest sometimes I still have to remind myself what I know. Because it’s hard. When we love someone we give them a little piece of our heart, and the truth is we never get it all back. But when the world feels complicated, I’ve found the best answers are usually simple: We need to learn how to let go.

Then we need to do it.

Over and over again if we must. We’ve got to stop chasing and striving and proving and trying to be enough, to the people for whom nothing will ever be enough. The minute you find yourself fighting to prove your worth, is the exact moment you must walk away. We don’t get to control many things in this life, but we do get to decide who we allow access to influence us and tell us who we are. Turns out I already had the most incredible voices around me, I just wasn’t giving them the microphone. You probably do too.

uplifting people

There are few people you get to trust with your whole heart, but they’re worth waiting for. Truth is, they’re the ones you never really let go. You know them not only by how they live in public, but by how they love in private. So rare and precious there is only room for a handful. But the well is deep.

So after years of living my life to please the impossibles, listening only to the voices who called out for my fall, I simply decided to stop. And though it was awkward and clumsy and horribly imperfect, I stumbled my way through the decision to listen to the ones who loved me the most, and to let go of the rest. Not because they weren’t good enough for me; they just weren’t meant for me. My job was to finally set them, and myself, free.

I want to encourage you to find your few who encourage you to dream. The ones who build you up instead of tear you down. The ones who point out your strengths instead of whispering about your weaknesses. I remember hearing a quote one day that literally changed my life. It said: “You become like the five people you spend the most time with.” Let’s make it our intention to choose wisely.

***QUICK UPDATE: The survey responses are piling in and I’m already amazed! You guys are AWESOME! There was a little glitch in the system yesterday, so if you haven’t filled out the survey please click here or on the pretty box below! I’d love to get to know YOU so I can better serve you and we can make this place even more beautiful than it already is. I knew you guys were amazing….I just didn’t know how amazing! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. You will never know how big a part you play in a beautiful redemption story in my life. You are so loved. xoxo

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Jenielle Harpster April 13, 2015, 10:50 pm

    Simply amazed! Your words are so fitting to the exact situation that I find myself in…..letting go of friends that ‘whisper about your weaknesses’. It’s been so tough letting go of the ones that I tried so hard to become perfect for. For so long, I believed that there was something wrong with me. Lately, God has reminded me that I am only here for an audience of one! I never really imagined how free-ing that it would be to let someone go. Thanks for your encouraging post! God bless you!

    • Tammy April 14, 2015, 1:51 pm

      Oh Jenielle, I’m so glad. It’s so incredibly painful but when we’re ready, it’s the most amazing experience to be free. Surrounded by the few who truly love us for who we are. An audience of One, indeed. Beautiful.

  • Ally V April 14, 2015, 2:37 pm

    Ugh. I needed this.

    I had a childhood friend who was dear to me, and then we lost touch. It turned out that she was being hurt during those lost years, and when we came back together years later, she couldn’t get enough past the feeling of abandonment. Our relationship became about how I hadn’t been there for her during this horrific time. My heart hurt for her, always, but there wasn’t anything I could do to go back in time and fix it. She was busy lashing out at me, and made it nearly impossible to be a friend to her.

    There’s still a bruise on my soul over that relationship. I pray for her often, but it just isn’t healthy for me to have her in my life right now. Thank you for reminding me that that’s okay.

    • Tammy April 14, 2015, 4:36 pm

      Thank you for sharing Ally. It just goes to show that both people can be hurt by very different things in the same relationship. Her, the abandonment…and you, the continual punishment for it. It always comes back to grace. Forgiving one another for the things we did when we didn’t know, and being willing to accept an apology and move forward in peace. I read a quote once that said something like ‘Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the pain but allowing the bruises to come to remind ourselves that at least we showed up.’ Your bruise means you showed up. You cared and you loved and you let go ultimately for peace. And that’s brave and beautiful and completely okay. Blessings. xo

  • Johanna @ Devoted To Maker April 14, 2015, 3:23 pm

    WOW! So good. I love how the Lord is revealing to me I am not the only one dealing with these hard issues as well. I love how the Lord encourages others to speak the truth in such an eloquent way. I love this: “We don’t have to be friends with everybody. ” and that’s okay. Oh my! What is that so hard to swallow at times, but it’s okay. What matters the most is that the Lord has us right where He needs us to be.
    Blessings! I have really enjoyed finding and reading your blog 🙂

    • Tammy April 15, 2015, 9:52 pm

      Thank you Johanna! I love when God brings us up alongside one another so we can journey together. Blessings to you! I’m so glad you’re here. xoxo

  • Jenny Rapson April 15, 2015, 4:46 am

    Love this, Tammy. You have such a gift!

  • susan Bricker April 15, 2015, 6:15 am

    Tammy
    I have been following your writing/blog for quite some time. You are an amazing writer/author. I have watched your writing evolve over time. You have inspired me, made me feel that I’m not alone in my thoughts/feelings, been a voice that speaks from the heart and soul, and spoke to the wounded parts of me.
    I thank God for directing me to you. There are never coincidences with Him. I have loved watching Him at work in the evolution of your writing journey.

    I’ve shared before that I also am a writer. I’m working on completing my first book. Your journey has sparked my own journey. It can be very overwhelming putting your words out there for the world to see. I feel when the Lord puts a desire in our heart and the gift to share with others we must follow through. It’s always for His purpose and His will that we apply ourselves and our gifts.

    You defiantly have a God given gift and I applaud you for trusting God and stepping out into it. Your writing speaks to me on so many levels. You touch so many lives with your words. You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing parts of yourself and your journey with others. Thank you for speaking the words that need to be said.
    Blessings to you and your family.

    • Tammy April 15, 2015, 9:50 pm

      Oh my goodness, thank you so much Susan! What a blessing and encouragement your words are to me today! When I first started this blog I was absolutely terrified, but even more afraid of not following in obedience where God was calling me to go. Never once have I felt equipped or even capable and just like anyone else, sometimes I question whether I’m making an impact. But God has taught ME so much through this process. Thank you for this gift of encouragement. Praying for your writing journey and the completion of your first book! It’s so frightening and absolutely exciting at the same time and I wish you all the best. xoxo

  • Jayne April 15, 2015, 8:58 pm

    I’d have to agree, This really hit home for me!!!

    • Tammy April 15, 2015, 9:51 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it Jayne. Blessings! xoxo

  • Tara April 29, 2015, 5:39 am

    I like this. It’s a lesson I’m still learning too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Denise Williams May 12, 2015, 6:26 pm

    Such a beautiful and touching article! I have struggled my whole life with people pleasing, mainly to my friends and trying to turn my mother’s critical voices into positive feedback and support. I’ve always been looking for that and that is something that is never going to happen. Thank you for this, I love how you called them the “impossible’s” it is refreshing to read this and be reminded that if a relationship dwindles, there is no reason to stew over it, let it go! Thank you!

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