- Genesis 31:39
"If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them."
- Mark 6:11
I generally don't walk away from people. I honestly believe that interpersonal relationships are valuable, and generally worth saving. So, as a rule, I don't walk away from people, and I certainly don't sever communication ties with them.
Unless they're toxic.
Now, to be fair, I have, in my life, only ceased communications with, at most, 5 people in my 4.5 decades on earth. As I can recall:
- The first person I ever walked away from was an abusive ass who thought I was his personal punching bag. He's no longer on this side of the dirt, and no, it was not by my doing.
- The second person is a crazy family member who thinks that men have the right to "discipline" women they support.
- The third was someone I'd met via social media, and he insulted my ministry.
- The fourth was a classmate who, via social media, told me that because I was a pastor, I did not have the right to tell people I was pissed, then had the unmitigated gall to send me a written message that started off with "What the F*** is wrong with you!" You know that when I called them, it was not a warm and fuzzy conversation.
And now we've come to the fifth person. I accepted a job with this person, and I shouldn't have. I knew I'd made a mistake from day one, but because I was intrigued by the circles I could possibly travel in, I said yes.
Now, there were warning signs that I should have heeded. The first was when the person's debit card was declined at dinner. Twice. And they offered to pay for dinner. The second was when they asked me to do something they could do themselves - make personal grooming appointments. But, because I'd said yes to the job, I agreed.
And the more I worked with this person, the more I realized that I was not the right person for THIS job. I was not the person that they needed. And I told them that, in their language. And, after we agreed what my last day would be, I ceased communication. There was nothing left to say.
Three days later, they sent me a scathing email accusing me of taking money under false pretenses and threatening to sue me. Also in their email, they demanded that I never contact them again.
So I honored their request. I set up filters in my email program so that their correspondence went straight to that folder, I blocked their number on my mobile phone, and have gone on with my life.
They're still emailing me.
I'm convinced that walking away was the smartest thing I could have ever done, because while they may be a nice person, they are not a nice person to work for or with. Once I realized that, this gem of a saying appeared on my Facebook wall:
And suddenly, my life was transformed. No matter what I said or did, the other person would not have been happy. They were't happy with the job I was doing (and honestly, my heart and mind weren't into it), and they weren't happy that I left. They weren't happy that I was honest. They weren't happy that I thought about my own happiness first.
And then this clip showed up on the wall as well: Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant. Watch the clip.
"If you argue against reality, you will suffer." Mother Iyanla quoted Byron Katie, and it is SO true. She also said the following: "How you treat yourself is how you treat God", and "It is SELF FULL to take care of yourself first. You want to come with your cup full." But this is the quote that worked my nerves and shook me to my core:
"When you give to others to the point where you sacrifice yourself, you make the other person a thief, because they're stealing from you and they don't even know it."
I'd made them a thief because I didn't want to say no. I'd made them a thief because I so wanted to be liked. In hindsight, I'd elevated them and their happiness over my personal happiness (family and ministry). So, walking away was the best thing I could have ever done. They don't deserve to be put in that position because of me. So, I have released them from their duty.
So, yes, I walked away, and turned my back on what could have been a lucrative opportunity. However, my family, friends, and sanity weren't worth it.
Sometimes you just have to walk away.