Scaling Back

A couple of months ago, I was gathered with some very smart ladies at Cultivate Her and having a discussion about relationships. (No, not the juicy kind.) And my wise friend Eve Annuziato said something I keep coming back to.

Eve said that when she turned 30 she sat down and created three lists: Very Important People, Very Draining People, and Very Negative People. Once her lists were complete, she intentionally figured out how she could invest more time and energy in her “VIPs.” Inversely she intentionally reduced her interactions with her “VDPs” and “VNPs.”

measuringtape

The minute I heard this I was completely energized. As I began to visualize myself scaling back on some of the painful relationships in my life, I felt instant relief.

I have no problem sitting down and filing people into these categories. Important. Negative. Draining.

But I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how to minimize my investment in people I find draining or negative.

Maybe it is because I am a COWARD?

Maybe it is because I want EVERYONE to like me?

Maybe it is because I am TERRIBLE at saying no?

Maybe it is because I don’t have any CLARITY about how this syncs up with our call as Christians to love our neighbor?

Maybe it is because I have created some FALSE assumption that the negative and draining people in my life NEED me?

I need your wisdom on this one. Have you done this with any success? How do scale back on relationships without too much carnage? How do you tell someone you love them but you just can’t do life with them anymore?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dog Molly, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    @branford i know. right?

  • http://twitter.com/jskogerboe @jskogerboe

    Creating boundaries with people is essential. We don't need to apologize (or even explain ourselves) for saying "No."

    Often, the easiest and most loving way to distance yourself from someone when you need some space, is just to simply say "no" when they ask you to (fill in the blank). "I can't. I'm sorry." That's enough. If they press back, you can always tell them, "My life is too full foir that right now. I need to set some boundaries for myself so I can be healthy." If that makes someone feel "offended," their reaction is not your responsibility. "Speaking the truth in LOVE" is yours. And so is "If it is possible, as far as it depends on YOU, live at peace with everyone." But people's response to your own boundaries are NOT your responsibility.
    My recent post worship ministry team values :: we’ve got spirit, yes we do

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    @jskogerboe Man, can you give me a pep talk every day? This is great advice. And I'll probably need to hear it again tomorrow. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/jskogerboe @jskogerboe

    Sure! My schedule's pretty much wide open tomorrow. :-) God bless, Lindsey. I really appreciate your posts.
    My recent post worship ministry team values :: we’ve got spirit, yes we do

  • http://twitter.com/jskogerboe @jskogerboe

    Sure! My schedule's pretty much wide open tomorrow. :-) God bless, Lindsey. I really appreciate your posts.
    My recent post worship ministry team values :: we’ve got spirit, yes we do

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  • http://www.thechurchofnopeople.com Matt @ The Church of No People

    That’s a hard one. The VNPs and VDPs kept calling me! I’d try to make excuses. I dreaded the phrase ‘what are you doing tonight?’ Whatever I was doing, it was not as important as what they wanted me to be doing.

    All in all, it worked out, as I waited it out, and they moved to different states. Currently, I don’t have any VNPs of VDPs, except for the people at work! Can’t do much about them, huh?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @matt Love your honesty. I can totally relate.

  • JD Nardone

    It is very simple, but not always easy. First, we are told to love everyone, not like everyone. Second, N & D people do need help, but not from you. Only Jesus can set them free, the Word renew their minds, the Presence of God fill their voids, & the Holy Spirit lead, counsel, and develop.
    For you, beloved, the most relevant thing in your life is your personal, intimate relationship with Father God through His Son. In His Presence, your specific life assignment (individual purpose) is revealed and His vision (your divine destiny) for your life becomes real. Get this and scaling back means pursuing His plan for you.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @JD, "N & D people do need help, but not from you." Amen!

  • Pam

    Hi Lindsey. I had to deal with this a few years ago when I had a taker in my life. She took and took until she drained me dry. The thing that helped me most was to see my relationships as if they were on a dart board. Prior to this time, without even realizing it, I'd come to think that everyone belonged in the bullseye with me. This worked for awhile, but as I was blessed with more and more friends, I started realizing I wasn't able to be the kind of friend I wanted be to them all. It was unfair to all of us. Then this experience with the taker taught me that realistically there are probably just a few people who truly belong in that bullseye with me and the others should be in various places across the board. This visualization helped me move people to where they best fit in my life. I believe this benefits everyone. I use the dart board image still – 15 years later. Oh…and some people, like the taker in my life, are best removed from the dart board for everyone's sake. Blessings, Pam.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @pam Dart board. I'll try that!

  • http://emilysutherland.wordpress.com Emily

    Oh, Lindsey, this is a great blog and such an important thing to consider as we seek truly healthy "iron-sharpening-iron" kinds of relationships (and, in doing so, become better people)! Time is too precious to spend with people who suck the life – and joy – out of us!

    My husband and I have been in this same on-going discussion for quite awhile about where to draw the line between our responsibility to "love one another" and co-dependency (getting our need to be needed met through draining or negative relationships). It can get messy, but we are much healthier without constantly being with people who aren't like-minded or don't share our values, interests, etc.

    Most recently, I was in an uncomfortable conversation with an acquaintance who was talking really negatively about people we both knew. After listening for a little while and trying to remain positive, I simply looked at her and said, "I'm going to go check on my son now…You take care, okay?" I decided that evening that I can be friendly from a distance, but I'm not going to change her habit of verbally crapping on people. So now when I see her in public, I don't make a point of walking over to her or sit down for conversations. Rather, I keep moving when we talk, keep conversations general, and don't divulge anything I don't want repeated to a dozen other people.

    It's all about healthy boundaries. Who wants to get stuck in a relationship vacuum where you do all the giving and receive little or no replenishment?! UGH.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @emily Thanks for the encouragement. Glad this resonated with you and your husband.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ronlane ronlane

    That is a cool idea something that I have done over the last couple of years, but haven't really thought about it. My wife and I have been distancing ourselves from life long friends for the same reasons.

    We really haven't said anything to them about what is going on, we have just moved in another direction than they have.

    You have to associate with people that you want to become.

    Still sometimes you have to just tell the person that you have chosen not to associate with negative people. You can then know that you were honest with them and not hurtful. Who knows, your honesty may make that person realize that they need an attitude adjustment.

    It's not fun, good luck to you.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @ronlane I love this, "
      You have to associate with people that you want to become." So true.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

        But (and this is a serious question here)…what's their incentive to want to associate with YOU?

        And by YOU I mean "anyone." I'm not insulting you.

        I'm trying to find the balance between being interesting enough to get attention from established people whose qualities I want to emulate, and being so annoying that they all run away screaming.

        It's a catch-22. I need to have something unique and interesting to offer them in order to attract their interest, but in order to grow and be inspired with something unique and interesting to offer them, I need to associate with them first! Aaargh!

        In the end, I love Twitter. At least I get to find out what's going on with Nelson Hyatt.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

          @Jeffrey, I think you are just fishing for compliments ;) You are not draining. You are funny.

          And yes…glad we all have @NelsonHyatt who will love us even if we suck the energy out of everyone.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Yeah, what the other commenters said!

    I still have a little difficulty with it given the whole love thy neighbor thing… and with being a pastor, I find it hard finding balance with my responsibility to help and guide people.
    My recent post What’s This Blog About?

  • Eve Annunziato

    Wow, I'm honored. Great post and such wonderful wise responses from everyone. JD, you took the words right out of my mouth! So, ditto that!

    In addition, after I gently and graciously released my VDPs and VNPs, they quickly moved on and found other people to suck the life out of… Typically, they won't miss ya for a second. Don't get confused between the distinction of loving others and giving them "the shirt off your back" (what we're essentially ALL called to do) from investing in others and pouring your life, energy and time into them. After all, Jesus surrounded himself with 12, and within those 12 He had three VIPs. Yet, He witnessed to everyone by sharing the gospel and showing grace, compassion, mercy and the list goes on and on…

    That being said, there are those draining and negative peeps you can't get rid of, such as family members or coworkers! If that's the case, always be honest.

    How do you tell someone you love them but you just can’t do life with them anymore? By saying, "I love you but I just can't do life with you anymore because…" or "I can't do life with you anymore unless you…" Remember, if you try to pour your life into EVERYONE and ANYONE, you'll end up investing in NO ONE well!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @eve You just… are beyond words. Thank you for speaking into my life and being my friend.

    • JD Nardone

      :-D

  • http://www.eveannunziato.com Eve Annunziato

    PS Just for the record, I turned 30 just a few years ago ;-)
    My recent post WHO ARE YOUR VIPs?

  • http://www.kimmirich.wordpress.com Kim

    Interesting post and I'm sure helpful to many. But, respectively, 'scaling back' feels labelish to me. And labels, for me, are best suited for cans. I receive over a hundred emails a week from abuse victims, and as expected they can be very draining. I work with teens and they too can be draining. I'm married to a police commander and the 24/7 calls, demands and sacrificing of family time can be draining. It's not always energizing to give of yourself. But, in my opinion, everyone has importance in creation –is worthy of being 'Important'. And, I have to wonder if He does lists?
    My recent post From Booties To Heels, Happy St. Nick’s Day

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @kim, I hear ya. I can totally respect where you are coming from. This is the struggle I am working through – how do you know when it is being selfish to place a boundary on a relationship and when it is being responsible.

      I do think the story of the good samaritan is a picture of what we are called to do as Christians. And it is interesting to note the boundaries that he still loves his neighbor with healthy boundaries.

      • http://www.kimmirich.wordpress.com Kim

        i dunno, lindsey, i just feel the heart speaks and guides. and, for me, 'doing lists' is labeling–profiling. wrong for me. i'm a firm believer in giving of myself, not because i must, but simply because i can … not always comfortable, i know, but what i feel works best for me and that includes to listening to those who have no voice — ear amongst the VIP's ; ) … make sense? good luck and blessings for a peaceful holiday.
        My recent post From Booties To Heels, Happy St. Nick’s Day

  • http://twitter.com/jmiles_tms @jmiles_tms

    Lindsey, great blog post, one thing to think about as you consider the 'n's and 'd's and how to deal with them in a "Christian" manner.

    Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan, he took care of the man, but then went on his way…you can still care for and interact with people, but you don't have to stop your journey (which is commonly what happens when you interact with 'n's & 'd's, they start talking then they suck up an entire day because they are either still talking or you are still thinking about what they have said).

    I applaud you for taking this step. Good luck!
    My recent post Book Review: 5 Cities that Ruled the World – How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, & New York Shaped Global History – Douglas Wilson

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @jmiles I agree. I think there is a lot we can take away about loving with boundaries from the Good Samaritan.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jeremybarr Jeremy Barr

    I agree with folks that it's an incredibly tough thing to do, and I can't say I'm really all that good at it. God calls us to love our neighbor, and I think that can easily be translated to the golden rule kind of love. Those people in our lives that drain us we can still treat with respect, we just don't have to invest the time in them.
    Our friends are our friends because they're there to run the race with us, build us up, and take care of us when we're broken, and I believe God calls us to surround ourselves with those people.
    As for how to explain to these people that we can't do life with them, I think it depends on the person. For myself, I usually just begin to spend less time with the person. I choose to schedule other things with those that I want to pour into, and it usually works out that the people who are bleeding me dry just go on to someone else instead. I think the reason is that what they are doing is actually being selfish and feeding some sort of need they have, and when they don't get that, they will immediately seek it out from someone else.
    All that being said, there are some times we have to be direct, and it's painful, but it's like pulling a band-aid off. I hate that part, especially as a fellow people pleaser. I'm guessing I also need to take a look at my life and make sure I'm pouring into all of those around me, and not being a VDP or VNP!

    PS-Why do you always ask the hard questions? :)
    My recent post Skid Row

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @jeremy_barr I'm going to work on being "fluffy" tomorrow I promise. ;)

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/jeremybarr Jeremy Barr

        Ha! Skip fluffy, keep up the good stuff. Posts like this are a good challenge for all of us.
        My recent post Skid Row

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/branford branford

    haha. carnage. i. can. relate.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/joanpball joanpball

    This is a very interesting dialog. I spent most of my life as an atheist following exactly this approach – categorizing people and prioritizing my interaction with them based upon my needs, my comfort-level and what worked conveniently into my schedule. It was simple. Difficult people were avoided and pleasant people were engaged. When I became a Christian in 2003 at the age of 37 I had no idea where to start. I'd grown up in a secular home and had no genuine notion of what it meant to be Christian beyond the bad PR I had believed and used as a stepping off point for the pretty aggressive Christian-bashing I'd done over the years.

    Thankfully the Holy Spirit gave me an immediate and voracious appetite for the scriptures which I devoured in multiple translations for hours each day for the first few years after my conversion. It was then that I learned about this paradoxical faith where he who is last is first, where gentleness and kindness trump smarts and money and where loving those who are difficult to love is actually what sets followers of Jesus apart from the pagans. This resonated with me deeply. I implored God in my prayers, asking how I was meant to live now that I had been drawn into this faith that I neither wanted nor thought I needed. I learned that "they would know me" by the extent to which I was able to genuinely reflect the fruit of the Spirit on both the people I loved and those who annoyed me. Thus began the true journey – allowing myself to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, heart and soul in a way that results in my viewing every annoyance as an opportunity for me to further examine my lack of patience, understand its root and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit on how I might grow into the woman I am called to be.

    Sometimes this involves setting and holding a boundary with someone who is asking for my time (which is always actually God's time). Other times it involves scrapping my schedule and making time for a lost soul. Growing in discernment and deepening my relationship with Jesus is the only way I can know the response I am meant to pursue in any given situation. If I used my level of patience with the difficult or negative person as the barometer for these decisions, I would miss many opportunities for service and personal growth that God has put in my path over the past 6 years.

  • http://pathfromtheheadtotheheart.wordpress.com Chrystie

    Hmm, this is tough. I have a desire to love and serve those around me. Often the ones that are draining are the ones who need it most. I think at times I get caught up in thinking they need ME and that not being there for them would be devastating to their lives (which is just an inflated opinion of myself…because I am ultimately not that important).

    I do believe in healthy boundaries. I also believe in loving as Christ would love. I think the two can co-exist. I think Joan is really onto something in her response! Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post Let Me Be Weak

  • http://pathfromtheheadtotheheart.wordpress.com Chrystie

    Hmm, this is tough. I have a desire to love and serve those around me. Often the ones that are draining are the ones who need it most. I think at times I get caught up in thinking they need ME and that not being there for them would be devastating to their lives (which is just an inflated opinion of myself…because I am ultimately not that important).

    I do believe in healthy boundaries. I also believe in loving as Christ would love. I think the two can co-exist. I think Joan is really onto something in her response! Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post Let Me Be Weak

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    One of the highlights of my life came when my dear friend Stacey pulled me aside. She'd gone through something life changing in her thirties and realized that she'd been spreading herself too thin relationally. She said she had to let several relationships go in lieu of investing in a few. "I choose you," she said. And boy, did she. We've been the closest friends since she made that choice, and I am the better for it. Don't think of it as saying no to the drainers, but yes to those who will build into you.

    • http://twitter.com/UC_SID @UC_SID

      I agree w/ Mary. The best way to 'weed' out the draining and negative relationships in your life is to invest more of yourself in the relationship that build you up.

      As much as some of us (myself included) like to please everyone and have everyone like us, that's impossible. There are just some people that will do nothing and bring us down. I don't think we can and/or should totally cut them from our lives (I'm a big believer in not burning bridges if at all possible), but rather invest in those that build you up, support and encourage you.

      I'd rather have 1 or 2 VIPs in my life than a legion of VDPs and VNPs.
      My recent post Random thoughts from the mind of a SID

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    Lindsey, I understand where you are coming from and I understand where your friend is coming from on this. I'm sure there are people in your life who have long patterns of behavior that would allow them to fall into certain categories. Let me just throw out here what came to my head and you can take it for what it's worth.

    When someone is going through a difficult time in their life…loss of a marriage, being unable to find that "one", a death, a job loss, depression…they can become very demanding, very needy and in some cases just grasping for anything they can find to try and keep going. That can be very draining for the person to whom they cling to but for them it could be their lifeline.

    It puts you in the place where you can cut bait and run because they're draining you and thus VDP or VNPs. You'll throw focus on your VIPs and start to freeze out the people who most need someone in their life to help them. I'm not saying that it's not important for you to develop and nurture and grow the relationships that are key to your well-being…but when you box up the hurt person and take them to the emotional Goodwill hoping someone else picks them up it's taking the risk that this person is going to just say "forget it" and walk away from God, hurt themselves or worse.

    I know that Mary and some others have said it's not saying "no" to the drainers…but it is. (Sorry, Mary, not meant as a shot at you…your comment just happens to be on screen as I type this.) You are dismissing those people, they will know they're being dismissed and it can cause hurt, distrust and despair in those people. If someone is feeling depressed and unwanted, how do you think they're going to feel if someone says "I need to focus on my important relationships and you're not one of them?" It's almost like a page from the church of "suck it up and move on."

    I would think as a Christian what we need to do if someone is draining us that much is find a way for them to get help away from us. Yes, you eventually tone down or cut off the relationship but you're not leaving them high and dry. (Now, in the case of an abusive relationship, cut it off. I'm not talking about an abuser here but someone who is hurt and in need.)
    My recent post Another reason why I'm not in ministry…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @JasonWert I completely get this. As I read your comment, I discovered something. We certainly have people who go through seasons of hurt and take more than they can give back. Their negativity and draining behavior is situational. I TOTALLY think that we should stick with those people if we are in a place where we can help them and walk with them. (sometimes I do think we are too empty to step in though)

    • http://emilysutherland.wordpress.com/ Emily

      I would have to ask the person who feels despair at a tired friend who is distancing themselves… is the problem the person setting boundaries? Or is it that they have needs no one person/friend could ever meet? It's really a good discussion for which there aren't neat, clean answers.

      When "need" drives any friendship, it just isn't a healthy one. That said, I don't think it's always necessary to sit down w/ a draining person and tell them they're a draining person. They're most likely not ready for that if they're struggling in the first place. BUT… my friends' life circumstances aren't about me.

      Even Christ had an "inner circle" of 12 male relationships (some of whom burned him big-time), and he made himself available to the masses at other specific times. We're clearly told, though, that he pulled away for alone time when he became exhausted and needed to refill. He is "the friend that sticks closer than a brother" and yet even He, when he walked the earth, needed some space now and then (though the needs of the masses never went away while he refilled).

      Just thoughts.
      My recent post Sin & Error Pining

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

        Well, I thought what was being discussed was segmenting people and then cutting people out of the mix. I didn't think we were just talking "for a season" but rather for life.
        My recent post Is it always satan who causes us to do dumb things?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephanieinlex stephanieinlex

    Wow, good dialogue here. It's true, boundaries are necessary, even in the relationships that are the healthy ones. And creating them with the VDPs and VNPs can be difficult for the people pleaser, especially when we know that the person needs support and that they are struggling with insecurities and/or acceptance and might not have that support elsewhere. I've spent hours talking about this very issue with a mentor. I'm learning that people will naturally react negatively when you enact healthy boundaries, especially if you've never had boundaries with them in the past. They come up against the barrier and, well, sometimes they freak out. But they blink their eyes a few times, have a befuddled expression on their face, and eventually the relationship takes a positive direction. This applies to both professional relationships and friendships, I've found.

    I've also found–and it can be really difficult, mind you–that I have to be very direct and clear with the VDPs/VNPs. I know they might need my support, so while I'm not abandoning them altogether (although I've been tempted just to throw up my hands and walk away), I have some useful things ready to say. For example, if I find that every time I meet with them they begin a discourse on how they expected more from me or related how they had hoped I'd act differently in a situation (I can guarantee this will happen with one of the individuals within the next couple of months, the pattern is predictable), I am ready with a "You know, I've been meaning to ask [in a heartfelt way--this is not meant in sarcasm]: If I'm consistently disappointing you, why do you want to spend time with me? I'm doing the best I can with many demands on my time and life, and I feel like every time we're together I am critiqued." It might sound harsh, but sometimes they are not aware that they are picking you apart and being a drain. I generally also carve out a time for the meeting, with a clear window of time available, and that helps me stick to my boundaries, too.

    I can safely say that at one point I was a VDP, with moments of VNP. In life's ups and downs, you might have seasons that are darker than others, and it can affect your outlook. As a once-VDP, I know that one of the best things that happened to me was when a true friend looked me in the face and said, "Hey, you know? Maybe you should talk to someone about A, B, C….," suggesting counseling, I know it was tough to hear, but it was the kick in the pants that I finally needed to seek wise counsel. Best decision I've ever made. And my boundaries have been oh-so-healthier ever since.

  • http://thequirkyredhead.com redheadkate

    I'm stuck with this issue too. I don't have any answers, but I really wish I did. The thing I am realizing more and more is that I attract needy people. Probably does have something to do with wanting to be/feel needed, but in the end I end up feeling drained and abused.

    I want to change but really don't know how.
    My recent post Road Trip: PW in the ATL

  • http://kassota.wordpress.com tam

    ohmyword yes i have done this. i didnt realize until i was in my mid 30's how important this was to do.

    there are people who bring out the worst in me. and in part, thats ok – i want the worst brought out so it can be made known and i can fix it.

    then, there are people who just make me feel worse. "bad company corrupts good character" thing…

    then there are energy suckers. people i had invested so much time in, counseling, advising – and realizing thats all our relationship ever was. never reciprocal. thats not healthy.

    i had no problem dismissing these relationships. i had to do it for my family, ministry and myself.

    i, like you, struggled with the thought that as a christian i need to be there for those people. true…but i didnt feel like being a doormat and it robbing me of energy and focus on the important things in life, my priorities. i guess i got to a point where i knew i needed to be a good steward of my time and life.

    i suppose if i was wrong…God will deal with me lovingly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    I think the biggest thing is that we want to fix people.
    This is why we hang around these people, we want to fix them and help them, in turn they drain us and eventually they start to fix us to be like them.

  • http://www.rebeccannb.blogspot.com Becky

    In the past two years I have had a lot of transition within my friendships. I truly did not see how one friend was completely draining me and ended up separating me from many other friendships that I longed to develop further. I have had to learn to say no and move on. Its not easy. I am a people pleaser and I like to be there for people in need.
    I also had a girl who drained me a few years ago and apparently she does that with everyone in her life. I set up boundaries with her and I can now talk with her without feeling like she is going to suck the life out of me. The thing I have came away from this post today is "boundaries". I am seeking more healthy boundaries within all my relationships!
    My recent post My 90 day challenge

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    Yes, I agree with you that if it's not situational then taking a pass is reasonable. I just see too many Christians who would make a pass on anyone who is in need and not just those with a pattern of it.
    My recent post Is it always satan who causes us to do dumb things?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    Yes, I agree with you that if it's not situational then taking a pass is reasonable. I just see too many Christians who would make a pass on anyone who is in need and not just those with a pattern of it.
    My recent post Is it always satan who causes us to do dumb things?

  • Margaret

    I'm intrigued! What a great post– I definitely have my thinking cap on tight for this comment. Interesting way to look at it:
    "Maybe it is because I have created some FALSE assumption that the negative and draining people in my life NEED me?" I can make my list too. You are a VIP on my book.

  • http://www.ordinarilyextraordinary.com/ Amy N.

    I think it's a fine line. You don't want to weigh yourself down with negative people. I substitute and I've basically quit subbing at one school because of the negativity of the workplace environment. I work hard to be a positive person, but it's not always something that comes naturally. So I minimize my interaction with negative people and environments. On the other hand I have acquantances that I think need to see God's love and who's to say it shouldn't be me. I think you have to find the balance.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/torybee torybee

    Lindsey, I have to say when I first read this the night you posted it, it made me very sad. Some say I'm too hard on myself and I see myself differently than I really am, but I consider myself an outsider. At first it just hurt to realize that I'll never be a VIP. I'll never be one that someone considers valuable in a relationship and to realize that all my friends should just "abandon" me because I bring no value in their life really hurt.

    I'm actually not a depressing person and I consider myself a realist, not a negative person, yet can definitely be critical at times. I'm the type that notices every typo in the church bulletin. I'm the type that will go home, look up scripture and ask questions of my pastor based on what he preached on, not saying he's wrong; just seeking more understanding. Most would roll their eyes at me; I'm intense. I read a lot of books, I have a lot of questions and most of my friends don't do that.

    We talk about being "authentic" and real and sometimes I get mixed messages from others. Would it be better the VNP and VDP just pretended to be how others liked? To keep things shallow and surfacey? Would others like them more then? I have a feeling that perhaps that's not what would keep them from being VNP or VDP. I don't like this but I think that there are those that are just more "comfortable" for us to be around and we gravitate to them. Some may make us feel good and encouraging and GIVE a lot. I suppose the ideal relationship is one where it's reciprocal.

    I know I make no sense and you don't know me so you may view me as a VDP or VNP. I can be. I see things clearly. I'm a lot bolder online in my thoughts and complaints than I am IRL to most people. (except a few "safe" people that I can say aloud my thoughts, questions) I will always feel like no one accepts me even if I were to be accepted! CS Lewis wrote `Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.' In my mind, I'll always be an outsider, but I have a feeling most wouldn't say I'm a VNP or VDP. I AM critical yet I'm also an encourager. I don't "dump" on people, unless they are a strong person that is my close friend and "safe" to do so, and I make sure it's an environment that's reciprocal. The day you posted on grief I was sad yet the only place I even admitted it was online. I approached not a single friend to let them know that day was the day my brother died and it was bothering me. (see? I don't like to be depressing!)

    I think that the key to something like this isn't just deciding who is "valuable" or worth investing in by the worldly standards that are around us. I look at it by who God placed in my path and for what purpose. If I find then "draining" and I'm struggling with my attitude or spiritual life, and after a good period of time fail to see any noticeable change in them, then I suppose I'd reexamine the relationship, but I would have a hard time just cutting out those that don't meet my standards in keeping me happy….. sometimes those are the very people I learn the most from.

    I do realize that you perhaps aren't having a "what's in this for me" attitude when selecting friends to invest your time in, I am just trying to figure this all out too, except I'm trying to figure out why I'm not accepted. (I don't think it's because I'm VDP or VNP) But after your post It made me delete nearly my entire blog because I don't want someone to form an opinion of me that's VDP or VNP. I'm strange and questioning yet I'm also quite giving and I'd like to think that I have value and worth. I don't "fit in" in many places, but is it because I'm VDP or VNP? Or because I'm not a typical girl? This is a hard post because I FEEL like an outsider and yet I've many friends. They just aren't the "in crowd" friends that I guess deep down I want to have.

    IDK. To me it seems that the "valuable" people are the leaders, those with "woo" and that are extroverts…… people that are "perfect" or successful or super thin, or dress nice. THOSE are the people that I think others exhibit more grace to; more favor.

    I'll end. I know I'm babbling.
    My recent post Impossible Union

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @torybee Sorry that this made you feel sad. I haven't figured this out at all…hence the post. Here are a few thoughts:

      I don't think of my online relationships as important, negative or draining – maybe I should, but I don't. This was more about the people you make time for day-in-day-out for lunches, dinner, long walks, etc.

      Honestly I am not sure it really has that much to do with their "intensity" etc. – it has more with how I feel after hanging out with them – frustrated, depleted, cynical, etc.

      Oddly the popular people are not who I gravitate towards as I look for "VIPs." I do think initially I am drawn to people with some WOO factor but most of my very best friends are people who are great listeners, provoke deep conversation, and are living life in a way I hope to emulate.

      And then I felt like I should tell you this story:
      A few years ago one of my best friends (not exaggerating here, I was in her wedding) told me I was EXHAUSTING. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to digest. Years later I can look back and know that it wasn't her or me. But there was something about that friendship that had become too much work. I felt it too. Every since then we are cordial, even friendly, but she is not one of my VIPs. And that is okay, great even. It gave me more time and energy to invest in people who found me energizing and who had time and energy to give back to me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/torybee torybee

    Lindsey, I went to bed last night, thinking of your post, etc. and realized I took it way too personally. I'm sensitive and I do want others to like me, and not like me but have a real, in depth relationship with me! Of course, that wont' happen with most.

    I also view online relationships and different and that is perhaps why it's easier to be transparent here for me. I don't consider people online to be draining. :-) I was referring to the people IRL.

    I have people in my life who are exactly as you describe: negative, depressing and sometimes draining and it's true: I only have enough time and resources and what is better? To spend it with someone who through all my efforts seems to be unresponsive? Or someone who is actively taking what I say, the time I spend with them and implementing positive changes in their life? That someday will GIVE back to me or if not me, perhaps give back to others.

    I don't know the answers to this at all, but I just wanted to say that I overreacted and took it to heart when perhaps it wasn't needed for me to do so. (I do that a lot, I admit to being critical but I'm most critical of myself)

    Just wanted to apologize and actually, between you and @spencesmith's post I've learned quite a lot this week about relationships and open-ness and what type of person I want to be.

    Thank you!
    My recent post Impossible Union

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      @torybee I appreciated your comment last night and today. I am always up for a good discussion. We don't all have to agree on everything ;) I appreciate you!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/torybee torybee

        Thanks Lindsey! :-) I've really been enjoying your posts and your insight.
        My recent post Impossible Union

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