When Is It Time to Walk Away?
by Jen Hatmaker on April 21st, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make toffee. Again. The first attempt, despite scant instructions and just three ingredients, emerged like a sheet of sand and made me resort to violence and hatred.
Round two: sand again. $&*%!!!!
So I consulted the interwebs to discover the error of my ways. Let me condense the instruction I received:
Keep stirring. Stir constantly. Stir occasionally. Don’t stir once it boils. The temperature is too hot. It’s not hot enough. Too hot, too fast. Oops, too long. Keep a steady boil. NOT A ROLLING BOIL, YOU MORON. Use a whisk. Use a spatula. Use a wooden spoon. Recalibrate your candy thermometer. Don’t use a candy thermometer. Pour immediate at 285 degrees. Drop toffee into ice water and it should be brittle. Oops, while you were doing that it reached 286 degrees. Dump contents. Don’t cook if there is rain within 500 miles. 12 minutes exactly. 7 and a half minutes. 4 minutes and not a second more. If it separates, add water. If it separates, keep stirring. If it separates, turn the heat down. If it separates, turn the heat up. If it separates, I’m sorry to tell you, but your life is in shambles.
These are what we refer to as Crazy Eyes.

This inspired a new Toffee Doctrine I’d like to discuss today, catalyzed by a Facebook comment of unusual depth: “Girl, sometimes the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.” And I bowed my head and said amen.
There is something to be said for hard work, diligence, for pushing through obstacles and emerging victorious. Heaven forbid we’re people for whom failure is a chronic deal-breaker. Some best things are won through perseverance, and there is simply no other path. Often triumph is seized on the 77th try, and every last effort in Attempts #1-76 was worth it, and not only do we emerge successful, but the false starts and failures became our greatest teachers, and no amount of instruction could replace them.
But there is another narrative to consider, which doesn’t smack of the Protestant Work Ethic we champion or provide a lovely headline, but it is no less essential to health, and confusing the two approaches is not only dangerous but destructive. Help a sister out, Kenny Rogers:
You got to know when to hold ‘em…know when to fold ‘em.
I recently discussed this with my 7th grade daughter. (Fact: 7th grade exists as an evolutionary natural selection process to weed out any tender, confident, precious traits from the adolescent species. Eat or be eaten, kids.) This has been a Challenging Friend Year, and she found herself on the outside, and I don’t even have to tell you what that means because we are all 7th Grade Survivors, am I right?
After a year of working and crying and trying again and crying and taking a different approach and crying more, I finally said, “Baby, some things are precious and worth the work it takes to keep them alive. Plenty of good things require hard work. But some things are too hard, and it’s time to cut bait.”
There is a tipping point when the work becomes exhausting beyond measure, useless. You can’t pour antidote into a vat of poison forever and expect it to transform into something safe, something healthy. In some cases, poison is poison, and the only sane answer is to move on.
Relationships, careers, churches, friendships, expectations, roles, tasks, organizations – these structures and connections can be the most life-giving elements on earth. They can lend meaning and purpose and belonging like nothing else. Within them, we find our tribes and passions, we come to life.
But anything that powerful has a downside, for they are the same things that can drain us dry and leave us for dead. When an endless amount of work and blood and sweat and tears leaves a situation or relationship or even an ambition (Perfect Mom, Size 4 Human, Person Who Has It All Together) as unhealthy as it ever was, when there is virtually no redemption, when the red flags have frantically waved for too long unheeded, the alarm bells receding into white noise after sustained disregard, sometimes the healthiest possible response is to walk away.
Assessing a circumstance as worthy of the toil is a discarded skill. Our culture doesn’t value safe boundaries like it should. We hold private disdain for the one who quit, the one who pulled out, drew a line in the sand, the one who said no more. We secretly wonder if they shouldn’t have tried harder, stayed longer, if this isn’t an indicator of their flimsy loyalty. Surely we would’ve done better in their shoes.
Locked in a toxic relationship or career or ambition or community, the levels of unhealth and spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us, and a watching world is not always privy to those private kill shots. It can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness. We can lose our heart and lose our way. And here is the key: we can pour an endless amount of energy into the chasm, and it will never matter.
There is a time to put redemption in the hands of God where it belongs and walk away before you destroy your spirit on the altar of Futile Diligence. Not every battle has a winner; sometimes it is all losers, carnage everywhere. When healthy options exist, and there is a safer alternative right…over…there, often the bravest thing we can do is stop fighting for something that will never, ever be well.

Walk away gracefully; we need not fire parting shots over the bow. That only creates more losers, and you're better than that. Take your dignity and self-respect and precious humanity, and be proud of the way you handled yourself one year from now. You don't need to be proven right; much more is at stake than validation. You'll never regret being gracious, but you might deeply regret burning a bridge that might one day be safe enough to venture back over.
It is not ungodly to evaluate critically; it is the wisest thing we can do. Reaching a point where you say “enough” to a toxic environment is not cowardly – it is so very brave. It will free you up to expend your energy in worthy ways, protecting you and maybe even your people from brutal coping mechanisms. (Do we really want to teach our children that “identifying with your captor” is the best way? When all we do is defend our imprisoner, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.)
What is the tipping point? There is no formula here and I can’t give one. This requires honest self-evaluation, safe and wise counselors, the close leadership of the Holy Spirit, a sobering assessment of reality. Ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze here?" and sometimes it is. You might discover signs of life and possibility rising up through the efforts, or the task at hand is simply too worthy to abandon, regardless. There may be necessary work left to do, and it’s too soon to assess. Or maybe the Spirit holds you in place for unclear reasons, which you may or may not ever know, but you will find peace in obedience and continue to listen for marching orders.
But the Toffee Doctrine bears adherence too: you got to know when to fold ‘em - for your health, your heart, purpose, family, your precious life. Certain goals are unattainable, and the means will never actually reach the end. And so often if you just turn a quarter degree, you’ll discover a healthier version just within reach. You’ll find the underlying value intact in a context that fits like a glove. You’ll hear yourself say, “Oh! I didn’t know it could be like this!” The toffee is still good elsewhere; maybe just need to rethink how you get it.

As for me, homemade is out, store bought is in. Now everyone is happy, the kitchen is no longer a war zone, and I know what I’m having with my coffee tomorrow morning. But there was that one recipe involving a microwave…

Someone stop me before I jump back into the crazy.
If your instinct is to counter with all the times we must stay the course, I’d ask you to carefully reread the blog and notice I already did that. My advice is for scenarios in which walking away is the right and necessary thing to do. My aim is not to lead a revolution of irresponsible quitters but of discerning disciples.
How are you struggling? Or when did you walk away for the greater good?

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Heidi H. - April 21st, 2013 at 8:11 PM
To every word of this post....A to the MEN!
Dawn - April 22nd, 2013 at 6:23 AM
You have just saved my life. You are my new best friend.
Dawn - April 22nd, 2013 at 6:39 AM
And where is the comment button to make my own comment instead of piggybacking on somebody else---sorry Heidi! And how come there is no button for me to LIKE to follow this JenHatmaker, hmmm?
Amelia - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:16 AM
hi, dawn! you can leave a fresh, new comment if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. and you can do the "like" thing at the top right (facebook, twitter, or some symbol i do not even recognize because i am too old for the internet, apparently). hope that helps! :)
Kay Dixon - December 8th, 2015 at 10:49 PM
OMG, yes!!!
Sahron Gold - October 23rd, 2016 at 12:52 PM
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JA - January 11th, 2017 at 6:23 PM
This is the best comment of all time
Amy - January 11th, 2017 at 9:28 PM
Didn't pay much huh? Nice grafitti.
Rhonda - January 12th, 2017 at 9:09 AM
Since you are a woman of God, please check the scriptures regarding witchcraft.
Anonomous - January 13th, 2019 at 1:58 PM
Sahron Gold, do you mind sharing what type of religious background you have? I'm curious what type of pastor would condone witchcraft and even mention God using someone in such a way. I am by no means being disrespectful or sarcastic. I'm simply curious as witchcraft is spoken heavily against in the bible. I have a difficult time accepting this as true rather than an advertisement of a dcam.
William Liming - March 31st, 2017 at 7:26 AM
Glad I took a break and found this as I was self destructing on the job.working construction with all kinds of trades in my way was causing me to have a meltdown this has given me some hope for today have ask the Holy Spirit to take over thank you for this blog.
alison - April 21st, 2013 at 8:12 PM
I love you.
K - April 21st, 2013 at 8:13 PM
Fantastic. Truly. =)
Kelly - April 21st, 2013 at 8:13 PM
I wish I had something profound to add, but this echoes my heart... my heart RIGHt here, in this day. I sat at lunch with a fellow sister-friend and had this talk. Sometimes, you just have to focus on the ONE thing, and it might not be a big, profound thing...but it is what God has for you in the moment. And in the moment, it might be Finishing The Laundry and Listening To Your Six Year Old Read "What Do You Hear?" For the Eleventy-Billionth Time, but it's the right work for you. And the book-writing, toffee-making, star-wishing, world-changing...well...can you imagine my crazy eyes? "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow..."
Amber - April 22nd, 2013 at 2:55 PM
Kellly, that's great advice. I appreciate it even if it wasn't initially intended for me. :)
Sheri - April 21st, 2013 at 8:13 PM
Very nice, very real... why I so love your blog.
Betty - April 23rd, 2013 at 8:00 AM
I love your transparency, and this is why I too, love reading your blog, and books. And this one I especially identify with!
Shelly - April 21st, 2013 at 8:16 PM
I went to counseling once because of several failed homemade cinnamon roll attempts. Could've used this post 2 years ago!
Ciel Crosby - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:28 AM
Thanks for the chuckle! But I feel your heart, sister
Amy - April 23rd, 2013 at 12:54 AM
I just spit out my drink - that is awesome!
Carmen - April 21st, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Hey Jen..you nailed it...once again! Thank you for your wise words!
emarie - April 21st, 2013 at 8:18 PM
I like to think of it as "pruning" right now...I'm in a season of pruning and keeping only the healthy in my life. My dad taught me an important lesson many years ago. "Sh*t or get off the pot." Sometimes ya hold 'em, sometimes ya fold 'em.

Thanks for keeping it real and giving us permission to move forward while letting some things go.

Love that.
Brandi - April 29th, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Ah-ha, pruning.

Thank you for that word. It spoke straight to me. I am a new christian and for the past year this has been my life, pruning. The word has never struck me before and I want to thank you for this moment, it has truly made me feel less alone. Pruning is tough, my friend.....but I know God's grace is upon us and we will come out of this better than ever!!! We are worthy of His pruning.....that feels so good!!!! %u2665 Blessings to you as you prune on! ;)
Alathia - April 21st, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Thank you!!!! Turned in my resignation at work last week and will be declining their counter-offer this week. The juice isn't worth the squeeze & the crazy eyes. :)
Withheld - April 21st, 2013 at 8:49 PM
Good for you for having the courage to walk away! I stayed at a toxic job way too long, and finally left a few months ago. The change has been amazing - my friends say I am practically a different person without that stress.
Dawna - April 21st, 2013 at 8:58 PM
Love that phrase! It's going in the journal "The juice isn't worth the squeeze & the crazy eyes"

I have been living it for awhile, now I have words to describe it.

kelli - April 21st, 2013 at 8:20 PM
I needed this so b
adly tonight. Thank you!
Melissa - April 21st, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Just let go of a major commitment and peace is falling all around me. Thanks for the affirmation!!
Shannon - May 20th, 2013 at 8:33 PM
Totally relate to the "peace falling all around me" comment. Letting toxic relationships go is scary but I'm not gonna allow fear or manipulation keep me in a place I know God has better plans layed before me. Thanks for your words.
Jen - January 12th, 2017 at 12:11 PM
"I'm not gonna allow fear or manipulation keep me in a place I know God has better plans layed before me." You can say that again Shannon! Leaving was not what I wanted and it HURT but the peace I feel now feels so right.....I almost feel guilty about the non stop happiness within. Much Love!
Juanita - April 21st, 2013 at 8:20 PM
I needed this right in this moment as my husband, this very second is sitting down with his brother- after 21 years of toxic family relations where we have tried for the 70 millionth time to suck it up and endure we simply cannot any longer for the safety and well - being of our children and marriage. This came at the exact moment I needed to confirm what we have been labouring over for a very long time. Thank you so much.
Lindsey - April 25th, 2013 at 10:42 PM
We have battled through that, with those toxic relationships, and I always justified the continued efforts by saying they are family. I finally walked away. I want a functional family. But I finally realized, no family is perfect/functional, and not all family is blood. God would rather I have peace to be with Him than stress and obligation to be with 'family'.
Margaret - June 1st, 2013 at 9:33 AM
I had to finally insist on a boundary with my mother. What you say about our culture not valuing healthy boundaries I have found to be so true. My heart is breaking, but As you so wisely said, my heart, health, and family deserve it. Echoing another reader, THANK YOU for giving me permission to say enough is enough!
Michelle - April 21st, 2013 at 8:21 PM
You took the words (much better written and spoken) right out of my mouth! AMEN!!!
Liz - April 21st, 2013 at 8:21 PM
And sometimes we just need a rest. Not to quit. Not to keep on battling through it. Just rest. Sabbath. Holiday. Break.
Sharon Thomsen - April 21st, 2013 at 8:40 PM
Love this. Just a rest. A Sabbath rest. Beautiful!
Donna - April 23rd, 2013 at 1:08 AM
Thank you, Liz. I can never seem to give myself permission to rest, take a break, a Sabbath (even though we are COMMANDED to). Thank you, Jen, for opening this particular can of worms. :)
Brandi - April 29th, 2013 at 9:47 AM

A breather. A long walk away.

Time heals all. One day we can try again. %u2665

Thank you.
Lauren Alexander - April 21st, 2013 at 8:22 PM
You know, I have been searching all over Scripture for an outlet to say a hearty "No!" to all the crazy sometimes, and I think it just clicked for me. Jesus warned the disciples about this: there would be times within the context of their ministry where they would have to shake their proverbial boots off and head out. Some folks seem to be at their happiest when they are most miserable and can I enable that if I'm not careful? I think I have before.

Cheers to you for a good post, Jen. Raising some Sour Patch Kids in the Bicknell air for you sister.
MB - October 18th, 2014 at 7:56 AM
There is a love that leads unto death. But the most powerful verse for me is "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." Matthew 10:14
Katherine - April 21st, 2013 at 8:23 PM
Great truth. Thanks for sharing!
Anita - April 21st, 2013 at 8:23 PM
We were approaching the 5 year mark of parenting our older adoptee...5 years of violent toxicity...and we said enough. We started making arrangements with a shelter. And that was actually the catalyst for better behaviour. Apparently 5 years of us saying, "We love you no matter what" and "We are your forever family" was interpreted as "You can do whatever you want and treat us however you want." When our message became, "We are still your family but you cannot live here like this", suddenly our expectations were heeded. It's been 5 months now. Healthier. Still tense, but not toxic. Our decision to walk away made everything remarkably better, and we didn't even have to fully walk away! Praise Jesus!
Becca - April 21st, 2013 at 9:54 PM
Anita - that was my life! I faced lots of judgment and condemnation when we disrupted our adoption. It was the hardest "toffee moment" ever but we had to walk away and things are better for her than ever before!!!!
This post hit the nail on the head!!
Krystal - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:23 AM
I am literally crying reading these posts. I have always felt guilty for choosing to walk away from a family situation! However I knew for my health, for my marriage and for the other child I had at home...I must walk away. I have learned to love from a far and be there when family calls (most of the time) help and then walk away yet again! Such a painful gut wrenching pain but for my health and well being, I have to continually choose to walk away! Thank you for these words that help heal my soul
Becca - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Krystal - it is hard and it is gut wrenching! You can read about our experience on my blog if you ever would like to - www.journeythruthehills.blogspot.com
You are not alone!!! Becca

Sami - April 22nd, 2013 at 12:01 PM
This is our family! 5 horrible years with a toxic adoption! We lost our mom 3 years ago and ever since then, it has been nothing but give me my way or I will attempt suicide or call the cops and tell them you are abusing me and things like that. She is now 19 and living in her own home and pregnant, but due to slight mental illness, our dad has been managing her life still. Now he is no longer legally responsible for her and the boyfriend is taking advantage of her and her money, so much has happened and nothing we have said or done is making any kind of headway with her. She even went so far as to tell us that she never wanted to be a part of our family, she only wanted the money. Time to walk away, but feeling so guilty about it- thank you Jen-- you are such an amazing woman of God and said exactly what we needed to hear!!
Meri - January 11th, 2017 at 5:25 PM
I am in a struggle with my oldest adoptive daughter. She is a level of crazyy toxic I never fathomed could exist. She is about to be 20 and is pregnant for the second time. We are currently raising the first one. We finally had to tell her we loved her but she couldn't live here any longer. I'm not totally certain where she is right now. I have struggled with the thought of what a horrid mother I am for finally saying enough is enough. Jens blog and your message have me sitting here in tears realizing I'm not horrid. I do need to follow the path that gives me peace and walk away and leave her in Gods hands and doing so doesn't make me a bad mother. Thank you both
Amanda MacB - April 21st, 2013 at 8:23 PM
Words do not even begin to describe how much I needed to read this in this season (and probably last season more.) Thank you.
Jimmy - April 21st, 2013 at 8:24 PM
So many aspects of my life right now wrapped up into one little blog post. Also, I am a personal chef, so I love the cooking analogy...Thanks! See you in Raleigh.
Donna - April 21st, 2013 at 8:26 PM
Sandy - April 21st, 2013 at 8:26 PM
Oh Jen, this is wonderfully wise and well stated.
Amanda - April 21st, 2013 at 8:26 PM
Even Jesus told his disciples to "shake the dust off" and move on to the next town when they weren't welcome.
Cynthia Sharp - April 25th, 2013 at 2:26 PM
Heidi - October 19th, 2014 at 10:08 PM
Yes! Just recently that Scripture came back to me as I resigned one of my jobs. Very timely!
Donna - April 21st, 2013 at 8:27 PM
Thank you. Having had to 'divorce' my brothers and have so few people understand why, I needed to hear this. Thanks so so so much.
B - April 23rd, 2013 at 9:47 AM
I, too, had to divorce my brother. He responded with venom to my handwritten "divorce papers." But, in our separation (though living side by side), God had time and space to work. Now, the relationship is healed with scars. The openness is no longer there (I am still a wary party), but the ability to communicate has cut a new dirt path between our homes again.
Lynnette - April 25th, 2013 at 9:13 AM
So well worded B. Been there. Love the thought of "a new dirt path".

Bethany - September 3rd, 2014 at 4:16 PM
I had to recently walk away from my sister. The relationship was so toxic and I feel guilty all the time. This post was excellent and will help me move fwd.
c - April 21st, 2013 at 8:28 PM
So good and fitting for us right now. BIG decisions to make in the next week and we are listening closely...waiting for the Holy Spirit to tell us if this juice is worth the squeeze. We find ourselves with some big ministry decisions (sticking around hoping for change or to spur change or join a tribe we very much connect with) but I am confidant we will find the right, healthy answer! Thank you for voicing that there is indeed times when it is time to say enough is enough. That sometimes making that decision is very brave and much less safe. Thank you for your voice and the encouragement you are always putting out there! God has anointed you and prepared you for such a time as this!
Leslie @ Body Won't Break - April 21st, 2013 at 8:29 PM
This week has been hard. Really the past few months have been hard. We're embarking on a new adventure by opening our home up to foster two kids. And also adopt one of the two. A teen mom at that. We're not adopting her daughter because, well, it's her daughter. And while I am excited and feel like this is where God wants us, it's been hard to watch so many people not understand why we're doing this - not support us in doing this - not celebrate with us. And it's not like I'm perfect. Goodness knows I've done enough to make people want to walk away. But I'm still trying to figure out how I know when it's time to walk away. I'm afraid to walk away because I've wrongly done it so many times in the past so it almost seems like I shouldn't walk away just because I've done it before. So thank you for this reminder that sometimes, when it's right, it's okay to walk away.

Your posts always come when I need them. So thankful for your words and the way God uses them to speak to me and touch my life.
Amy - April 21st, 2013 at 10:47 PM
May the Lord bless your daughter and your new granddaughter. Praying that future generations are changed for eternity because of your family's love for a teen mom and her baby girl. Angels will celebrate with you--even when you feel like earthly friends aren't.
Flower Patch Farmgirl - April 21st, 2013 at 8:31 PM
Okay, I may have spoken in haste yesterday. I wanna get back together.
Christy Keyton - April 21st, 2013 at 8:31 PM
This is a truth that needs to be said. Thank you, Jen. I had this experience last July after leaving a job that was draining everything I had, causing incredible stress for me and my family, but I was holding on because I don't consider myself a quitter. I read a great book on this topic, which I would l HIGHLY recommend, Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud. That book, being in the Word, and much prayer convinced me it was time to let go. And, boy, am I in a much healthier place today!
Melissa - April 21st, 2013 at 8:34 PM
Exactly what I needed to hear, thank you!
Amy - April 21st, 2013 at 8:35 PM
Last year was labeled for me, the "Year of No."

I said no to pretty much everything but Christmas dinner and my kid's birthdays. It was widely known and laughed at, but God showed me so much of where I needed to be. It became an epidemic and now many of my friends are taking advantage of their "years of no."

Store bought, GOOD!
Jennifer - April 21st, 2013 at 8:35 PM
Whew-- seventh grade survivor typing here! Even those memories are tough. I wish I had advice like yours back then. It still applies now, though. We are at a different "cut bait" ending again, and listening to the Holy Spirit is crucial.

If you want to try toffee again one day, here is a recipe that sometimes works for me: http://www.glimpseofourlife.com/2011/12/chocolate-toffee-bars.html
Jen - April 21st, 2013 at 8:38 PM
This resounds so soundly in my family right now. Thank you! Perfect timing!
Rosanna - April 21st, 2013 at 8:41 PM
Bravo!!! Love this so much! Something very, very difficult that I have been living for the last 3 years... folding and walking away. Here's to healthy relationships and finding out what those even look like - what a journey!

"Reaching a point where you say %u201Cenough%u201D to a toxic environment is not cowardly %u2013 it is so very brave." This was definitely the most courageous thing I've ever done, and the hardest! And let me just say the "sobering assessment of reality" was quite shocking but incredibly freeing!
B - April 21st, 2013 at 8:42 PM
Oh Jen Hatmaker - how do you always write something that hits me in the gut?

My job sucks, bigtime right now. My co-worker is making my life a misery. One side of me knows that the only defence to the criticism is to keep doing a great job - and I'm really good at what I do. The other side of me is so beaten up that I just want to quit. But financially, I don't really think I can, and I don't want to give them the satisfaction of beating me. But I'm in a fair bit of stress and tumoil. I'll be pondering your words for sure.
Susan - May 27th, 2013 at 8:16 PM
Oh wow! 10 years ago I could have written your post. I hated my job, although I had done the same work elsewhere and loved it. My new office was toxic and I didnt fit in. (think 7th grade all over again). I knew if I had to stay one more day I'd surely die. I quit and became a flight Attendent. Huge change, and I LOVE my job. Have faith and courage. Hugs
Alyson - April 21st, 2013 at 8:42 PM
A year and a half ago we walked away from pastoring a toxic church. We actually walked away from pastoring altogether. 20 years was enough. We did it, and did it gracefully, proud of how we conducted ourselves, and wounded because some people were not so graceful. A friend helped me put it in perspective by saying, Alyson, this is not the church Jesus died for. Christians do not behave this way. But our family is worth it. Our kids know they are worth it, and we have found a whole new life as just people. We are a healthier family, and yes, sometimes the juice just ain't worth the squeeze, but the toffee is great over here!
Whitney - April 21st, 2013 at 8:43 PM
Thank you. Just...thank you. I wish I could tell you all the ways that this touched my broken heart, and explain how it feels like a few of the smallest pieces maybe just started healing some. But since I'm a blubbering mess right now I doubt I would do a very good job at explaining anything.
Claire - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Praying right now for redemption and healing for you Whitney.
Niki - April 21st, 2013 at 8:43 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This message NEEDS to be proclaimed! There are too many drowning under the label of "standing in faith" who just need to cut bait!!!
Jen - April 21st, 2013 at 8:44 PM
I was in a Knoxville for your talk and was deeply encouraged. Never have I seen the offering baskset so full at my church and never have I seen my friends and family so dedicated to shifting the focus from consumerism to true Christianity. This probably doesn't even address what your blog is truly about but I do think God is truly working through you to influence women in this age and circumstance to move towards what was intended by Jesus Christ. Amen and we are praying for you,.
Meghan - April 21st, 2013 at 8:45 PM
Love this post! Thank you so much! I feel like people are all about reconciliation at all costs and sometimes the costs just aren't worth it. Thank you for validating how I've felt for the past year & have felt fellow Christians judging me for say enough is enough!
shadowwonder - April 21st, 2013 at 8:46 PM
A spiritually shallow sidebar: I learned the hard way about the folly of trying to make my own toffee when, as a result of poor aim, poured the entire iron skillet full of hot, bubbling buttery-sugary-sticky goo not into the cooling pan but instead DIRECTLY ONTO MY BARE FOOT, where it melded its candy-ness into the crevices between my toes. Someone actually told me I had a low pain threshold that night . . . . really.

We just buy Heath bars now.

p.s. Came to see you Wednesday night in Knoxville. Blessed and challenged. Thank you.
Bonnie Hildebrand - April 21st, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for letting God use you to speak to me and so many others! Thank you!
Donna @ Cooking Praying - April 21st, 2013 at 8:47 PM
All so true. You've got to figure out when to struggle through and when to choose not to engage in the fight. A friend of mine once made a comment about such dilemmas--words that ring true, give me and image to ponder, words that I often mutter to myself--"Just step to the side and let it pass."
Kim - April 21st, 2013 at 8:47 PM
I needed to read this and to read it on this very day. Thank you!! :-)

Ashley - April 21st, 2013 at 8:49 PM
This was just ... amazing. Even more amazing how things present themselves when they're exactly what needs to be heard. :) Thank you so much.
Pam - April 21st, 2013 at 8:53 PM
Girl, you nailed it again. Just what I needed to hear.
AW - April 21st, 2013 at 8:57 PM
When did I last walk away?

About 15 years ago, I "divorced" my parents. I am still respectful, kind, and polite when we interact. But there is little relationship. They believe that when I left their religion (cult), I left God. When in fact, God rescued me from the spiritual abuse of their beliefs that held me hostage. I struggled for years to find a way to overcome the relational obstacle without going back to their very UN-biblical teachings. I realized after years of continued emotional abuse on their part, I was expecting something that was just. never. going. to. happen. So I allowed the Lord to deliver me even more. I stopped initiating contact. I stopped initiating furthering the relationship. I (attempted) to stop arguing whenever we would get into any deep theological discussion. Sometimes we went for years without contact. Grieving was deep. Sometimes still is. When a child loses a parent, one never anticipates it's by the parents' choice while everyone is still living.

While I wish it were different, I've accepted the fact that the Lord has allowed this for a reason. I don't entirely know what that is yet, but I am trusting that something Good will come of it. In the meantime, when I do interact with my parents, it's nice and polite and VERY surface-y. While I miss having a close relationship with both my parents (that so many of my friends appear to have), I have no longer have any expectation of anything more than it is. Which is okay. It's better than having a toxic relationship and beating my head against the wall and crying myself to sleep over the grief of what I've lost. It took a long time to get to that point of knowing when to lay it at the Lord's feet. I gave up. I'm letting Him take the reins because I realized I just couldn't do it anymore.
Elizabeth - April 22nd, 2013 at 7:29 AM
It's so good to read your comment. I shared a bit of my story in a comment below. My family made the decision to leave behind both my sets of grandparents. My parents both grew up in abusive homes. When I was a kid, I kind of knew it had been tough for them. When I became an adult, they started sharing more details about the abuse and I was shocked. We tried to discuss these issues with the greater family and met with so much hostility. For our nuclear family, after much prayer, we decided we needed to cut ties with those relatives who were not willing to work on therapy or healing. I still feel guilty, I feel shamed by friends who don't understand how I could be so heartless as to cut off all four of my grandparents, and I struggle to explain how bad the abuse was that made it necessary to cut ties. But I don't regret the decision to fold 'em. Sometimes you just have to stop trying so hard. At this point, it's up to the Holy Spirit. I've laid down my hands.
AW - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:24 AM
Elizabeth, yes, I get it. I've done it with my parents AND my paternal grandmother. She is pretty and charming and funny and everyone LOVES her. But they don't see what goes on behind closed doors. She is much of the reason my father is abusive and controlling. After my boys were born, I realized I needed to cut the chain of generational abuse in our heritage. Unfortunately, most people don't realize the hardship of what "divorcing" family entails. It's gut-wrenching and not a choice that you come to lightly. So yes...I understand. But like you said: it's up to the Holy Spirit. He can do a much better job at healing and communicating than I can, so I'll let Him. ;-) I'll be praying for you today.
Kari - May 21st, 2013 at 3:42 PM
AW, thank you so much for your comment. I have had a toxic relationship with my parents for over 10 years. The last 5 have been a literal night mare. What used to be a simple questioning of legalism transformed into a creepy, cultlike alternate lifestyle that included a lot of perversion displayed openly in front of my toddlers and much mental and emotional abuse of me. When physical abuse became more rampant against my brother and I could no longer sit by and watch......I asked them to stop. Things disintagrated there. The last 5 years have been a cycle of me obsessing over how to reconcile, how to show God's grace, how to show forgiveness, how to love, how not to judge while somehow managing not to put my family in danger or damage my health over the constant stream of hate. And because most of the extended family does not believe its happening (it doesnt hurt that my father is extremely educated, and charming) I am in the midst of endless guilt trips and lectures from scripture on how I am not being a good christian for things like not letting them be alone with my children. I am absolutely broken and getting no where. We made the hard choice and offered one more time to visit a councelor with them. When the answer was no, we quietly walked away.
How do I know this is ok? well I still struggle from time to time, especially when well meaning Aunts call me to try and convince me the things I have seen and heard just really arent true. those times make my mind a playground for the devil. But despite that, just like in the blog post, when I finally turned just 1/4 of a degree in a different direction 5 years ago, my life COMPLETELY transformed for the better. Suddenly, when I was no longer obsessing over how to fix something that only God can fix, I had room in my life to serve him in areas I never knew I could. God has scooped me up and been my Father in such a deep way that I want to tell the world how good he is. This "broken" relationship has allowed me the freedom to transform my marraige, the way I parented, the way I related to my friends and other relationships and has positively affected my own integrity. God made me new, because I could focus on him, instead of one unstable man. Do I still want reconsilliation? You bet, and I pray OFTEN for it.........but putting myself in the line of fire is not going to make it come any faster.
Dana - April 21st, 2013 at 8:58 PM
Such good words. Thank you!
Janice - April 21st, 2013 at 8:59 PM
It is encouraging to know that you and others struggle with the same challenge I have to let go and move away to avoid poison and find health. Some battles will never end. Those are battles I don't want to participate in - we never make progress. I go between bitter and relieved as I consider where I am and where God is leading me. When I believe God's truth, I am at peace and am gracefully walking away. When I listen to the lies (you are being a quitter, you haven't done enough, you haven't suffered enough) they overwhelm my thoughts and get strongholds on my heart. Thanks for reminding me about the lies. God protects us as we leave. He knew we were going to leave before we even got here. (THANK YOU GOD!) :)
Angela - April 21st, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Thank you for posting exactly what I needed today. (It was for me, right? ;)) We've sweated, we've soul-searched, we've laid our hearts bare before God, we've been way to stressed to parent our children in any coherent way. It's time to fold 'em. Holy Spirit moment. Amen.
Lauren - April 21st, 2013 at 9:04 PM
Wow. This is me, turning in homework at 9pm on a Sunday night while my babes sleep and husband watches something nature-like on History. And I feel the achy mono feeling again, and wonder when I'm going to stop making myself sick. I have had mono 3 times. I have been in school for literally 20 years, going on 21. I think it's not time to throw in the whole towel, but maybe some of it. Because this cycle has to stop.

Thanks for making me at least think about it. :(
Karen - April 21st, 2013 at 9:06 PM
tried to explain this to my daughter today, you did a much better job than I did. I sent it to her. Thank you!
Jenn - April 21st, 2013 at 9:11 PM
At the risk of sounding creepy, I truly think we are long-lost BFFs, sisters from different misters. I love this. Sometimes the juice ain't worth the squeeze!
Jada S. - April 21st, 2013 at 9:11 PM
IT's as if you got inside my head and expressed in words what I've been feeling the last 18 months.

Thank you for this. Printing it and keeping it close by.

JR - April 21st, 2013 at 9:15 PM
"Or maybe the Spirit holds you in place for unclear reasons, which you may or may not ever know, but you will find peace in obedience and continue to listen for marching orders.' -Perfect description of my life right now - eases the frustration to have it worded so nicely. Great post. Thank you!
Linda - April 21st, 2013 at 9:31 PM
And those of us who are in a good place need to respect those who accept and recognize that they just can't make homemade toffee (fill in whatever you have to walk away from)
Tori - April 21st, 2013 at 9:18 PM
Thank you, so much. I was adopted out of foster care at 14 after years of severe physical, emotional, and sexual abuse along with sexual exploitation. After being adopted my life of abandonment and emotional did not stop, it also added spiritual abuse. I have longed yearned for the relationship with my mother that my friends had with their mothers. Sad to say at 32, after 18 years of being adopted and having a relationship with Christ and seeking answers for this loss in my life, I came to the solution today that I will never have the relationship with my "mother" because she doesn't want one. She has never wanted a relationship with me and for 18 years I have ask myself the question "why did she adopts us" because she was never loving to any of us, nor has she ever called one of us without wanting something since we moved out. I have always said if I moved away she would not notice. After the incident this morning I made the choice to let God fill the empty space of my "Mother" because my heart was just as important as the next. Tonight I got on to do my devotions, seeking God's conformations that my decision to part my way with her was right and came to your blog. I believe that this is a conformation that I am to "fold em" ( I love good ole Kenny) and go on. Though I am very saddened by this, I feel at this time it is right.

AW - April 21st, 2013 at 9:50 PM

I'm so sorry. I get this. (See my experience above.) It's hard, no doubt. But the Lord consistently gives us freedom, deliverance. For me, it's been piecemeal, over many years, not a one time deliverance. But He's faithful. And I'm not longer alone. Nor will He ever abandon me, like my parents have. (I've often asked the same question, "Why did you have me?") Anyways, just want you to know you're not in the trenches alone. There are others here with similar pasts and similar fears about moving forward and similar grieving. - AW
Erin - April 21st, 2013 at 9:26 PM
We chose to walk away from a church we called home for several years. It was no longer worth the struggle to be a member there AND do what God called us to. It hurt -- really badly! But you are right, nearly a year later and we are glad we just walked away gracefully. Sometimes it really is best to cut bait! Turns out God had bigger and better plans for us that required a different environment anyways :)
Catherine - April 21st, 2013 at 9:26 PM
I cannot tell you what a blessing this is to me. After 10 years of trying to make a family relationship something it's not (good, honest, healthy, kind, supportive, etc.) and many tears, discussions and prayers I realized this weekend I can't continue this way. After another round of half-truths, unkind words, false accusations, and a person who can't be trusted, I decided to walk away.

I made sure to respond in a way that would NOT burn a bridge, but I have to set up boundaries for my own heart and life and, at this time, that means I have to disengage. I truly hope some day in the future this relationship can be mended, but for now it feels as if a weight has been lifted from my heart.

Thank you for reminding us it's OK to quit sometimes.
Ashley - May 17th, 2018 at 4:08 PM
I%u2019ve been living this nightmare for over a year. I love my parents dearly, but couldn%u2019t deal with the constant Drama anymore. My anxiety became literally unbearable. My mother always thought she was above all the rules, entitled to anything in life, told lies all the time and denied it, and I just Couldn%u2019t handle it anymore. Nothing was ever her fault. It would always fall back on me. I blocked Their numbers and my husband speaks to them sometimes but I kist Can%u2019t do it. Since all this has played out they have been so ugly. I feel guilt alllllll the time. I just couldn%u2019t do it anymore.
Lb - April 21st, 2013 at 9:27 PM
I too have had to divorce my parents. It was horrible
But after a few years of attending alanon I realized
That I was part of the problem. I was trying TOO hard, desperate
For something they weren't interested in. I think we are all
Relieved. When we see each other I always monitor myself
And make sure I am kind and polite and end the conversation
If I start to feel any tension. It's all in Gods hands, it's really an act
Of narcicism to think we can MAKE someone else behave.

Kim - April 21st, 2013 at 9:29 PM
I went thru this with friendships at one point and it was terribly, incredibly painful, but I realized I was the one doing all the friendship "work". I went thru a horrible divorce, I had a toddler, I was working full time, and I had to move to escape being stalked by my ex. I had "friends" ragging on me because I wasn't writing, calling, keeping in touch, didn't send a birthday card, etc. I was at the lowest point of my life and it was all I could do to get up in the morning and do what I had to do that day. I had no energy to "be there" for others. I walked away from several friendships. Oh, so hard. But just like a marriage, one person cannot do it all. It was painful. Almost unto death at the time. But so much healthier. Sometimes you just have to walk away and it IS the right thing. Thanks for sharing painful TRUTH.
Nameless (to stay safe) - April 21st, 2013 at 9:35 PM
17 years in an abusive marriage. BUT I said for better or worse til death do us part right?
I held my marriage vows as a covenant I committed to before God, my husband and a crowd of witnesses. They were not just words. And the bible does say turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive 70 x 7, love covers a multitude of sin and a lot of other things I could quote u right?
As much as lyieth within you live at peace with all men, BUT what if you can't make the other person live at peace? (Which we can't)
In the process of escaping with my children as I type this. I'm not giving up only stopping the abuse cycle. Because well..... It's time.
Kristan - April 21st, 2013 at 9:46 PM
Praying for you.
Amanda - April 21st, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Me too. :(
Lynn - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:00 PM
I totally understand how you feel, I stayed 27 years. I escaped with my children a few months ago. It's not been easy & I had hoped he would finally make changes but he isn't ready. I pray God will grant you peace & strength. Nobody should have to live in fear & abuse.
Sherry - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Praying for you as well....God bless.....
Laura - October 26th, 2014 at 1:40 AM
A lot about this article hit home, and I can relate to the person above who commented anonymously. I decided to leave my abusive husband after about a year and a half. It was the hardest decision I've ever made. The abuse was mainly emotional. He escalated to breaking things & ended up bruising me twice. He would say he wasn't abusive because he never hit me. I struggled with guilt over leaving. I recalled the vows I took, "for better or for worse." I had hoped this was just the worst & would get better with time. But the possessiveness and controlling behavior gradually worsened with time. I finally realized he was never going to change. I was afraid of how much worse it could get if we had kids. I was changing so much to try to please him that I didn't recognize the person I was becoming. He was isolating me from family and friends. I finally decided I was tired of living with a man I was afraid of, and this simply wasn't how a marriage was supposed to be. So I'm finally divorced now. Now if I can just stop thinking hateful thoughts about him......
Grace - April 21st, 2013 at 9:38 PM
You are a godsend!! This has helped me to understand and accept certain changes coming in my life. Henry Ford said "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."
Name - April 21st, 2013 at 9:41 PM
Type comment here...
Kristan - April 21st, 2013 at 9:43 PM
Sat earlier with a dear friend and told her how sad I am to miss the man whom I thought if sirens the rest of my life with. Eight moths ago our toxic relationship ended with him in jail for domestic violence. Today I planted flowers and was reminded of how much I deeply loved him. Thank you for validating that sometimes we don't have enough to give to fill up the chasm. And thank you for reminding me that letting go isn't ungodly...but often wise. I needed this tonight. Desperately.
Kim - April 21st, 2013 at 9:45 PM
Yes, yes, yes! Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and walk away. There's a time to persevere and a time to get out. The challenge is discerning which is which, but with the Holy Spirit's help we can figure that out. Love this!
Laura - April 21st, 2013 at 9:49 PM
Walking away gracefully is great advice. We left a church that we had served in faithfully for 12 years. It was very painful to leave the people, but we couldn't agree with the direction the leadership was taken. When we finally decided to walk away a very heavy burden was lifted. An oppresive crushing of our spirit was taken away and we could once again feel the spirit upon us. We could hear the voice of God again. I took time to heal but in walking away we once again joined the journey God had ordained for us. We walked in to something much better! Thank You!!
Elizabeth - April 21st, 2013 at 9:59 PM
Thank you for this. When I was 22 years old, my parents, siblings, and I made the very difficult decision to cut ties with grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were caught up in an abuse cycle that we needed to get out of. Some of my friends give me a hard time when I express the pain I carry from these damaged relationships, especially in regards to my grandmother. I get tired of being told I didn't try hard enough or I'm being selfish. There is the idea that surely your little old grandmother deserves you to turn the other cheek and should not be held accountable for her actions. Unfortunately, even grandmothers are human, and they can make bad decisions just as much as anyone else can. In this case, it has nothing to do with turning the other cheek, it has to do with sanity, wellbeing, and abuse issues, some of which had been ongoing for far too many years. Sometimes you gotta fold 'em, even (especially) when it hurts so very much.
Lori Harris - April 21st, 2013 at 10:01 PM
thank you, thank you, thank you. that is all. Oh, and an amen.
Becca N. - April 21st, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Yes. Knowing when to persevere and when to fold 'em can be very hard, but it is a vital balance to be struck. I had a friend that I so wanted to help and tried for a couple years, but the reality was she wanted the drama and not the help. I have been a better wife and mother since I walked on this relationship. Prayer and time have been the keys for me knowing when to stay and when to walk.
deborah - April 21st, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Lisa - April 21st, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Permission to walk away? Thank you! It's just what I needed to hear!
kalen - April 21st, 2013 at 10:10 PM
oh my! this was exactly what I needed to hear. I've really been struggling with something and feeling like I should make a big change, but it's so hard to feel like i'm not just giving up, like I should fight harder. what you said makes perfect sense though. thank you so much!
Caterina - April 21st, 2013 at 10:11 PM
The autumn before last, I was physically and emotionally at the end of my rope; I was always ill in bed, a combination of a disastrous withdrawal from Remeron and the ravages of stress on a body with CFIDS. I felt at first I had no choice but to go forward with the semester -- I had done the drug withdrawal in the middle of the summer, almost exactly when my uncle died (!) -- I didn't want to lose the time. But if I had stopped to consider whether I was strong enough, I might have sat out that semester and done the next two. Instead, I left school halfway through that semester and spent the whole of 2012 recovering just to this point! How much further along I'd be if I'd only seen sense!
Victoria - April 21st, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Thank you for the reminder. I read a good book a while back called "Necessary Endings" which really helped me to see this and to understand that sometimes the best, and necessary thing to do is to walk away.
Bethe @ Texas Lovely - April 21st, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Such wise words. I have had to walk away from more than one toxic friendship and reconcile being able to forgive someone with also saying "I wish you the best but this friendship isn't healthy for me." After grieving, it is always proves to be healing.

And as for your candy making--you need to find a sweet little grandma friend who will come over to your house and show you in person how it's done. It's biblical--older women teaching the younger. Or maybe switch to making pie. Or jam. Or something with a box mix.
Cheryl - April 21st, 2013 at 10:21 PM
This post was exactly what I needed. How did you know? Thank you!
Heather - April 21st, 2013 at 10:27 PM
This was my life for many months. Bless you for speaking this truth! Sometimes the toxic place is somewhere that should be safe, but it isn't. It takes a brave person to be willing to walk away and deal with the questions. Not that I'm the brave one- I've had so many people on my side!
Lynne - April 21st, 2013 at 10:28 PM
As a woman who has been in fulltime ministry for 3 decades, the verse that has saved me alive, "As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Well sometimes you have done all that you can. You have pursued every avenue that depends on you. Then it is time to walk away, but as you say, without taking parting shots, because something I also have seen in 3 decades of ministry, if you leave the bridge intact, if you leave the door open, there may be a time in the future for peace.
Varina - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:09 PM
I totally agree with the verse Lynne posted. I have such a hard time letting go of things. I feel like it is not Christ-like and as the post indicates some times we need to stay the course. Other times we don't need to beat ourselves up if we feel like we need to move on. You can't control people, situations, etc. Often my determination to not give up really boils down to my inability to let go of control and leave the outcome in God's hands. I also love this "You'll never regret being gracious, but you might deeply regret burning a bridge that might one day be safe enough to venture back over." So very true.
Laura - April 21st, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Thank you for the insight. Wise words indeed.
Wanda - April 21st, 2013 at 10:33 PM
So affirming! I resigned from a teaching job in Nov. that was sucking the life out of me and my son (I'm a widow so it's just the two of us, and he's in 8th grade - a tough year, esp. when you've only lived in this place a year.) No matter how much time I spent, it wasn't enough, and 12 hour days Saturdays still had me feeling defeated and him neglected. I am still looking for my next career, but the stress level and general health and atmosphere around here is SO much better. I am so relieved that I acknowledged that, while small group teaching had been a great job for me, the regular classroom was NOT A FIT. And we only get to live one life. Thanks for a GREAT blog.
B. Crump - April 21st, 2013 at 10:43 PM
This one makes me dance a little bit. Kind of an Irish jig, I'd say. Fiddles and such...
Deanna Mason - April 21st, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Woman, woman, woman. I am convinced God just spoke through you. Oh. My. Word. You have blessed my soul to the core. I can hardly believe you wrote this. If you only knew of the 4 YEARS of "de-programming" I have gone through once I let go of a toxic relationship, community, ambition, and career (yeah I had all four going at one time); the conversations I have had over the past year with others in an effort to PROCESS MY SOUL and EMOTIONS as my eyes have been opened to the wonderful things and peaceful, oh so peaceful life that were on the other side of me "letting go." You just summed it all up in a toffee analogy. Woman. God bless you. THIS. IS. AMAZING.
Name - April 21st, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Can I have this recorded and put on speed dial?
D in BA - April 21st, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Saw one link on facebook. Didn't read the title. Saw another great friend who linked the post. Still didn't read the title. Finally on the third fabulous friend who linked this, I read the title and clicked. My, my! Have you got my number?! We just "celebrated" one year with our 2 foster kids yesterday. So many maybes and I don't knows. So many can't wait till we're free or are we supposed to be. But like you said, we haven't received our marching orders. So we wait. And foster them for one more day! That's our struggle.
Sara - April 22nd, 2013 at 4:56 AM
I have only just very (very) recently "walked away" and shaken the dust off my feet. It's been hard and I'm seeing fiery arrows being locked, loaded, and aimed my direction but there is such a sweet relief, and lifting off my shoulders, and lowering of the blood pressure, and settling of the stomach... The Lord in His infinite wisdom will handle it and I no longer have to.

Thank you -- this (and the dozens of other comments) is the validation and encouragement I needed.
erika - April 22nd, 2013 at 5:35 AM
Exactly the road we were on last year...and there was a better thing so close by. Best thing we did was walk away from what had become for us a toxic community.
Louise - April 22nd, 2013 at 6:41 AM
I think it's time to back off or change tactics when I have outstripped my capacity to love well. It's not about the characteristics of the other person or situation; it's about my response. I've come to learn that I have to keep some margin in my life for rest and relationships or else sin will seize the opportunity. Thanks for the reminder today.
Anna - April 22nd, 2013 at 7:51 AM
Your words are so right. Walking away may be the only sane thing to do!
BethA - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:08 AM
Can you hear my applause? Because my hands are stinging, I'm clapping so hard. This is something I've been wrestling with lately, and you've just said exactly what I've been unable to put into words. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jen Hatmaker. You're my hero.
Stephanie - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:16 AM
As I am walking away from a toxic marriage to a very very sick man who refuses to get treatment for his mental illness, your words are a comfort and a godsend. God has used you today. Thank you for being faithful in writing your words and sharing them.
Amelia - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:29 AM
stephanie...been there, done that. my prayers are with you. (and if yours "self-medicated" with drugs and/or alcohol the way mine did, i cannot recommend the al-anon program highly enough. it's like AA for the friends and family of alcoholics and addicts. meetings are confidential and usually cost about a dollar. google "al-anon family groups" to find meetings in your area.) i wish you all the best. it is a long journey, but it gets better.
Audra Blumn - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:17 AM
With tears pouring down my face, you have just said everything my family is going thru. You've given me encouragement, as usual, to keep fighting the good fight! Thanks for always saying it like it is. You are such a gem!
Nicole - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Emerging from a season of agonizing evaluation and prayer. I am clearing my plate of many "good" things. God has led me to step away from a few things that have fed my soul in the past, however are draining me dry right now. A new season is on the horizon with new challenges and exciting adventures. I am at peace, with myself and most importantly with God! Thanks for affirming the "critical evaluation". Too often we don't stop long enough to get off the train!
Stephanie - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:39 AM
Halleleuah (sp?) and amen! I left a toxic job that was destroying my health, my relationships, and really not even doing anything for my career. Best move I ever made. My marriage is strengthened, I don't whine to my friends (well, not about work, anyway!), and when I'm with my niece I'm WITH her, not fielding calls and emails.
Rhonda - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:44 AM
One time I bought my husband beet sugar instead of pure cane sugar with which to make his coconut cake icing. It came out gritty, and now I know there's a difference, so I'm careful to buy the right ingredient. Just a thought.

Good article though, lots of wisdom in it.
Megan - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:48 AM
Yes, yes, and even yesser. I'm walking through some very difficult, toxic stuff with friendships lately, and it has been a very lonely, painful process. What could be more painful than unfaithfulness in friendships? I'll tell you: when those friends refuse to see it that way. It's left me feeling crazy and guilty yet those red flags ARE waving. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to minister and guide me with your words this morning.
Penny Bevill - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:51 AM
You message came just at the right moment Jen. Thank you.
Stones Cry - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Oh how I wish you could have written this and I could have read it years ago. I have had far too many pastors and Christian "friends" judge me or admonish me to "reconcile" with my family members who sold me into a sex trafficking ring. I so wanted to be the good Christian girl and please The Lord so I kept going back to them all the way through my 20's and into my 30's. I ended up paying a horrible price simply because I didn't know it was ok to walk away. Now I understand that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. But for far too long the Church has equated the two, villainizing those of us who "won't" forgive, when that is not what we are doing at all. Thank you for this message. I pray it reaches far and wide! Bless you!
Maretta Rohrer - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:11 AM
You are so right! Please get a copy of Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. I highly recommend it to everyone who has posted or read this blog. There are times in life when we must realize that new things cannot come until the old passes away.It is so hard to discern at times, but truly necessary to let go of toxic relationships and things we have held on to for too long.
Jessica - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:19 AM
Wow. Wow. Wow. SO good. We had to make a decision as a family to "fold em" in an area of our life recently. We struggled so hard because the pressure was on us to make it work. To continue to fight. But it was causing so much turmoil for our marriage and our kids. And we feel the sweet peace of God from "letting go". This confirms it. Thank you for speaking truth and being a sweet balm to a wounded soul.
Erica - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:20 AM
I'm a college gal who loves, loves her friends! If I call you a best friend it was a well deserved and thought out title. It means I have no intention to ever let you leave my heart. But... 2 months ago I walked away from an almost 3 year best friendship. She was one of the first people I met at school and good Lord is she wonderful! 6 months into knowing each other we hit bumps. I caused bumps and hurts and so did she. We both tried so hard to push past and move on but in January I could not hold on a minute longer. Letting her go broke my heart but being her friend was breaking my heart more. I prayed and prayed and agonized but finally I felt the Lords peace and I knew I could let go of us. We talked for the first time on Friday (we live in a house together!) I did a lot of personal healing the last 2 months and on Friday I felt like I was sincere enough to ask her to coffee to close off our relationship on a good note. It was good but I held on to my toxic friend for a year too long just because I didn't want to quit but quitting isn't always bad! Contrary to what I ised to believe, the juice really isn't always worth the squeeze.

With hope,
Erica Joy
Ashley - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:25 AM
I had to walk away from a very toxic friendship once, and it proved very healthy for me. Looking forward to hearing from you at Exponential!!
Jean - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:43 AM
This is So timely for me in a current work situation. I will pray and, if need be, WALK AWAY! Thanks.
Laura Shehan - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:50 AM
I don't know you, but I think I love you - let's go pick out china :) seriously, these are the words I needed to hear this morning! Thank you!
CJ Mitchell - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:53 AM
I actually just walked away from a toxic relationship. Even though it feels so silly as an adult to have to make a defined line in my mind and heart. It still feels as though a weight has been lifted.
Stu - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:55 AM
I know I'm not God but if I am going to be God-like how can I walk away from a situation he would not walk away from? Maybe I just need to go that extra extra mile. If I know God iis with me in all my worthy pursuits I guess I'll just keep trodden along the good path.
Hoosier - April 22nd, 2013 at 2:31 PM
Who is to say he wouldn't walk away from something? God does not call his people to always stay. Abusive spouses, relationships, churches. You do not have to stay, nor is it more holy to do so. Did you and I read the same article?
Claudia - June 2nd, 2013 at 1:26 PM
Just remember you're not God. Sometimes you need to let go and let God deal with it. You can certainly continue praying.

Megan - June 2nd, 2013 at 4:10 PM
Sometimes we need to reevaluate if the pursuit is, indeed, worthy. Not everything is. Also, not everything is suitable for every pursuer. Perhaps God will use another better equipped to handle a task. It is worth considering, even if, ultimately, you decide to keep on in your pursuit.
Kimberly - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:04 AM
This reminds me of a relationship I had way back. I tried countlessly to impress said boyfriend with his favorite cake, Pineapple Upside Down Cake. With each try he let me know it wasn't like his mom's. I wasn't measuring up. That was the end of the relationship. Know when to fold them. Now, years later, I'm so thankful for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake fiasco. Relationship ended shortly after that, and I've NEVER made it again!
sarah - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Where were you 5 years ago? Bless you. I needed this, and will be referring to it in the future when I come to those situations where I need to let go. I need to remind myself that it's not a failure if I gave it my best, and it just wasn't meant to happen.
Tanya - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Jen, Jada brought this to my attention today.

You hit it out of the park! Thanks so much for the truth that is here.
Adrienne Terrebonne - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM
This was so good and reaffirming to me. We recently moved to Georgia from TN and I was in our worship band at our previous church in TN. I sort of wanted to be a part of our worship team here in GA so that I could use my talents to bring glory to the Lord, so I talked to the worship leader, went to a practice, went through the "process" to be a part of the team. But then I started feeling uneasy, like I needed to pull back a bit. I started feeling stress and worried about what to do with my three children while I went to practice (my husband works full time and can't always take off work to watch the kids). I ended up stepping down from the team before I had even really been a part of it. It was hard and my pride was hurt, but right now in this season of my life, I know that my main ministry is to raise my children according to Biblical principles.
Crista - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:08 AM
And for those of us that have sometimes gotten the toffee right only to botch it again, thank You, Jesus for sanctifying the cook. %uD83D%uDE1C%uD83D%uDE0A Great word, Jen!
Anne - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Diane - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Cathy Schlieman - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Jan 1st I walked away from owning a small business. Was tired of putting God on hold, and my husband and my family and my friends on hold. Great decision! God has brought some amazing people into my life and my husbands. And I am in awe and so thankful for what He is doing in our lives! Thx for sharing your message w me!
Tiffany - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 AM
We spent years trying to fit at the local church that was part of the "group" we grew up in. Last fall, we finally walked away because of all of the very reasons you just said. It was hard, HARD and we still get flack from family members for our decision. But over and over God has shown us that it was the right thing to do. He has filled us with strength and peace and freedom like we have not felt in so very long!
Karen - April 22nd, 2013 at 11:55 AM
thank you
Denise - April 22nd, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Thank you Jen....I have recently divorced my husband after a 3 year separation. I had found out he had been unfaithful and lying to me since we were married 10 years ago. Through the separation, I kept "trying" to make it work. I went to counseling, suffered many health problems, not to mention all of the emotional distress I was under....still am. The week before our divorce was final (in Nov 2012), he decided to show me he changed, and started counseling (which only lasted for a few weeks). For some reason I felt as a Christian, I had to continue giving him a chance to prove he had changed. I am totally beaten down, emotionally and physically. I have realized him changing is between him and God....and also have realized if he hasn't changed yet, and keeps slipping back to old ways, he's not at a place in his life that he is ready to change. Your article supports what my pastor/counselor has been telling me...if I have tried and given my heart in making it work, and he's still toxic to my well-being, it's ok to toss in the towel. It's not failure, it just means it is time to move on....God has bigger and better plans for me...things that will glorify God. Thank you Jen.....you are a blessing!
D. - November 6th, 2013 at 10:06 AM
First the article from Jen(thank you), then your comment.
Last night was a horrible night for me and my husband(one of many). The words that come out of his mouth shouldn't continue to shock, yet they do.
I've stayed trying to change (that didn't work) to a better person for him, became something he wanted and denied my inner voice that was screaming "this is wrong"! Like you the biblically broken marriage is what I'm in.
For most of our 25 years I've been the target, the kids were to blame, the house wasn't clean enough, the yard wasn't ____ enough, I never made enough money(raised 4 kids and worked the same pt job for 17 yrs) etc etc., dinner was never on the table when he liked, while he didn't raise one finger to help.
In the last 3 years I've finally allowed the real me to come out. I really like her. I've been trying to lose the 100 pounds of coping weight I've put on, am trying to stand up to the endless verbal and emotional bullying. The last deal breaker after all that is, that even when I proved myself over and over again to him, he still sees me in a negative light, moved all of our operating money into an account I can't touch and has now been telling my grown boys what a bad wife I am.
I've stayed, I've been dropping drops of antidote in a vat of poison the size of DC, I've been staying waiting for signs of change... While there are some outward public shows, the behind the scene show is the one that is the deal breaker.
Counseling was refused, I went he did not, he's told two pastors the same thing and laughed at communication exercises from a councilor. I've waited and PRAYED for God to change him. I've stayed because I thought, as well, that God would never walk away.
After a night of comments made to decimate my spirit I reviewed(in my head) the never ending loop of things I said I never would stand for, but did.
Where this leaves me now is to try to find a way to support myself after setting aside a career to raise a family and move on.
I wish to leave bridges unburned, want the best for him, hold my head up high and go with dignity for me and for my children. Maybe he can find his way back to a relationship with Him without using me as the reason. And maybe then is when God can really work.
Pamela - April 22nd, 2013 at 12:25 PM
so true and exactly what I needed to read today! I've been struggling with a husband who has Biblically (mentally, emotionally, financially) broken our marriage. In my effort to honor the marriage and the commitment I made to God, I am continuing to "pour antidote into a vat of poison and expecting it to transform into something safe, something healthy." My mind knows the truth; my heart just hasn't caught up.
Denise - April 22nd, 2013 at 4:24 PM
Goodness Pamela, that's exactly where I am. You worded it so well.... my mind knows the truth; my heart just hasn't caught up. I pray our heart listens to Jen's words......
Sarah Q - April 22nd, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Yes! This post is at once validating, saddening (that some situations really cannot reach positive outcomes), and encouraging knowing that new possibilities exist.
kimber - April 22nd, 2013 at 1:05 PM
Planning a big wedding for an out-of-town and busy-finishing-school bride whilst holding down a full-time job%u2026
can't exactly "fold" that one, but I definitely hear ya on the crazy eyes. And the nervous twitch. And the serial insomnia.
This is a time of incredible stress, but as my mom used to say, "this too shall pass." Really trying to stay in the moment and find the joy amidst the cray.
I needed to hear this today. And while it's not appropriate to walk away from this season of my life, it's good just to hear all of this.
I love how you filter life through Jesus. You keep it so real. I really wish you lived next door%u2026
Tina Hutchison - April 22nd, 2013 at 1:14 PM
You and I were on a LifeWay web cast not too long ago... and you continue to be balm in God's hand for me. Inspiration for my walk - and ministry to inmates I am honored to lead. Thank you for saying "yes" to living real and loving inspite of fear or criticism.
If I were there in person I would hug you till your eyeballs popped out!
I love you, sister - fellow rebel rouser. Keep up the gut level raw work... keep geting your hands dirty... dig, plant, and then repeat!!! We are cheering you on!
Anna Whiston-Donaldson - April 22nd, 2013 at 1:34 PM
I just loved this today. The image of the juice not being worth the squeeze will stick with me, and I'm hoping it will resonate with my own little girl who will be in 7th grade soon (gulp!)
Tracy - April 22nd, 2013 at 1:35 PM
OMG - I needed to hear this honest word today. It may have saved my home/work life or maybe just my life!
Liz - April 22nd, 2013 at 2:29 PM
So true. We walked away from a church about two years ago. We left behind a lot of friends, and found out that some weren't friends that we thought were. It took us a long time to make the decision, and a lot fo uncomfortable conversations. Eventually we reached the point where it didn't amtter how much anyone else was happy or thriving in that situation, we weren't, and people were not willing to accept our concerns. So we left, and we are free. God has blessed us with a new church family where we are accepted and loved among trustworthy brothers and sisters, and we are able to thrive and grow and contribute without being made to feel guilty, inadequate or small.
Emily - April 22nd, 2013 at 3:04 PM
ummmm...Thank you. Humbly, thank you.
MandyJ - April 22nd, 2013 at 3:08 PM
I'm praying for your precious daughter. 7th grade was awful for me from a friends standpoint, and even at 34, it still sometimes colors my social interactions. The best thing I ever did was walk away from the toxic relationships, even though that wasn't really my choice at the time. It freed me up to be more of my own person, and helped me develop an independent spirit, not to mention a whole slew of new friends.

By the way, toffee is impossible unless you're someone's grandmother, were taught by someone's grandmother, or are an alien.

Also, The Gambler was my favorite song when I was 8, and I play it on a mixed CD in my car at least once a week.
Tammy - April 22nd, 2013 at 3:36 PM
My Shepard leads me besides still waters. If
I walk beside troubled waters I will soon fall in
and be pulled under. I naturally crave peace. My
Husband and I had to walk away from toxic family
Members too. Thank you for this article.
Janet Schweizerhof - April 22nd, 2013 at 3:45 PM
You have said it all, truly! What more can I add, except maybe this: Four years after first going for counseling at church, my divorce was final. I had a brief conversation with my counselor from back then. She said, "We learned so much from your situation. We learned that sometimes we need to save the person, not the relationship." Amen to that! It was a long road of forgiving and forgiving and forgiving some more, but as you said, it is just pouring it in a chasm, and it never mattered. The spiritual damage of a severely toxic relationship has taken a long time to repair, and years and years that could have been spent serving the Lord were lost.
Mark - April 22nd, 2013 at 5:19 PM
thank you for your wisdom and courage to speak the truth sister
Jennifer - April 22nd, 2013 at 5:28 PM
I keep reading this post. My husband and I aren't in a toxic environment, per se, but we have got to the point where we just know it's time to go. So even though we have a great church and friends and 10 years of roots here (meaning: to the outside onlooker, there is no obvious reason to leave), we will have our house on the market within the week. Everyone thinks it's a bit odd for us to just up and sell our house with no good reason or clear (explainable) plan. But something (Someone) inside just says, "Go." So we are. Sometimes, I think, it's easier or less scary to just stay where you are and keep trying. It's a big leap to walk away sometimes. Especially when it doesn't seem to make logical sense to everyone else.
Sara B - April 22nd, 2013 at 6:54 PM
I love the encouragement and hope in this post. Situations that are emotionally driven are hard to work through and often times leave you feeling less than brave. I'm learning that I can let go (and disagree)... and have boundaries in love. I loved the comment you said about not burning a bridge that might someday be safe enough to venture back over. I pray that my heart stays soft and open to crossing that bridge again someday WITH the right boundaries, love and respect. I struggled with the idea that I wasn't being godly enough if I didn't forgive and move on. As time has gone on, I have learned so much and grown deeper in my relationship with Him. I realized it was never my situation to fix, I just really wanted the control of when/what was happening. I love my Jesus Calling today. Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand". Praying that I pray for His purpose to be revealed and I live it out in honor of Him. Thanks Jen.
Linda - April 22nd, 2013 at 7:33 PM
Oh Jen....How beautifully the Lord uses you in so many lives, and so often in mine. It seems so timely that you would put this up, and how I needed it. I have been wrestling for awhile, not wanting to be disloyal, but I also can no longer allow myself to stay in bondage to a situation where there is harshness and lack of grace for the "have-nots". Can only imagine how Jesus must weep over what goes on in this world when He holds out His outstretched arms. Thank you for being His ambassador to this tired soul, who has given and sought only to find no room at the inn....Onward I go upon the course He has set...wherever He calls next!
Julie - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:19 PM
I am starting a women's ministry at our Church in Broken Arrow OK about helping women to overcome the very things that hold us down and hold us back from living out our greater purpose. We will be using your book Seven and cannot wait to see how God works through these precious women!! Thank you for being real, for allowing divine wisdom to flow through you and for touching on matters that weigh our hearts down! You so rock!!!
crystal - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:52 PM
Yes. Agreed. I heard a comment a few years back that articulated much for me. Something along the lines of: you want to, as Jesus did, call people to be the best, healthiest version of themselves. My example was with my mom. Long story short she has had a hard life, much of it the result of her own choices, but she blames everyone else instead. For years, at many junctures where she wanted nothing to do with me or anyone else in a healthy way, I always felt Jesus telling me to go back, offer her a healthy picture of relationships, offer grace, offer love...even when some other trusted, godly friends told me to walk away from her. Then I got married and I felt God drew a few harder boundaries for me with her. All the while she continued to get worse. Then it peaked just before we brought our 2 kids home (from ET). Which is when God completely released me from the relationship (in order to protect our kids, I think, and honestly I had absolutely nothing left for her those first 2 years home). I do feel like I was given a lot of grace to write a very clear, kind, but hard letter to her letting her know why it was time for me to walk away and the conditions she would have to meet that would constitute reason for me to consider entering back into a relationship with her. Anyway, I completely get this post. It has only happened once to this degree, but yeah, sometimes walking away is the best thing for everyone.
BP - April 29th, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Crystal... I am in the middle of this right now. Do you mind emailing me? [email protected] Thank you!
Zanna - April 22nd, 2013 at 9:17 PM
From one pastor's wife to another... Thank You! Needed these words.
Jenny - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Thank you so much for this! I needed it!
Amanda - April 22nd, 2013 at 10:25 PM
And God sends the affirmation through you! Thanks Jen! I've been fighting the enemy for months now and struggling with walking away/sticking this out/be the "good christian" stay in the relationship, keep discipling this man, just tearing myself apart!!!! But after he verbally ripped me apart for every righteous act I have done and for all the other callings that God has placed on my heart that I try my best to take action towards each day.......I said good day sir.....and haven't spoke to them since.......I did have an overwhelming sense of peace today and I felt as though I was back in my "place" with God. Having God lead me to stumble upon your blog tonight was exactly what I needed! :)
Tiffany - April 23rd, 2013 at 5:32 AM
This may sound so simple, but last night I needed to walk away. One evening a week my husband and I mentor a couple of kids at a homeless center near where we live. Yesterday morning I was completely stressed and broken beyond belief by 9am I could barely function. I'm in the 1st trimester of my 1st pregnancy and according to the doctor, am having "severe symptoms, you poor thing, but it's all normal".

Usually when it comes time for our homeless center day I just fight through it, work all day (a very physical job on my feet a lot) and rush to the center, where I really do enjoy the kids. But I couldn't do it yesterday. So, we cancelled the center for the night. Sounds so simple and not a big deal, but that simple act of calling the center to let them know we wouldn't be there relieved such a huge burden from my shoulders! I needed to walk away just for a day.
Tanna - April 23rd, 2013 at 5:51 AM
Awesome post! Amen!
Elisabeth - April 23rd, 2013 at 6:26 AM
What do you do when you should have quit/cut bait/folded...


And now you are wrecked...
KT - August 13th, 2013 at 9:03 PM
Pray, Elizabeth. James 4:8 is for you.
Mare - April 23rd, 2013 at 7:55 AM
Yep. Excellent. The key is that DISCERNMENT. So hard to know sometimes. Only God can sort that out for you. I've quit and stayed the course, and I've never known either way which was right. I've just tried to follow God. If we do that, we are successful, no matter the outcome.
from The Dugout
Lucille Zimmerman - April 23rd, 2013 at 9:06 AM
Jen, I love this post. It's well written and thoughtful.

I shared it within one of my own posts: 4 Clues You're Leaving Your Childish Ways

EC - April 23rd, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Homeschooling. Turns out we really are all not gifted at teaching. Yes they are my own kids and I will continue to be involved in and care about their education, but after a year at home we are going to cut our loses. Let our once peaceful routine return to our home and may my children once again enjoy school :)
Kevin - April 23rd, 2013 at 10:45 AM
Am I a lone man in this thread? :-)

You have sure struck a chord with so many people with this one! I think hurt is the most common experience that people can related to, and no one escapes it. The unfortunate thing is that we have been told all our lives to stick it out; to endure, as if in the enduring we are, in some small way, experiencing what Christ did...and are deserving of it! There does come a point, though, where there is absolutely nothing you can do, and continuing to maintain the relationship, or situation does more harm than graciously walking away. Sometimes loving means leaving.

In our case, my wife and children and I have attended a church for nearly a decade. In that time, we have been engaged in many capacities and have spent those years encouraging people to move from "religion" to a relationship with Christ, and learning to let go of ourselves and allowing the Lord to take over leadership of our lives and His church. For a while, people went along with it, but many would either make passive aggressive comments, or take steps to intentionally undermine any changes that were made. After a "moral slip" by our pastor several months ago, the church has lovingly restored him, but has really doubled down on its efforts to protect and maintain the traditions and structure of the organization, and nearly any progress that had been made was erased. Most who were on a path of growth with the Lord and others have left, and we find ourselves not really knowing what to do. Prior to our pastor's thing, I found myself in a place where I was dead. Dead spiritually, and dead relationally, and something needed to give.

I have felt for many months that the Lord was calling my family away to something new. Not necessarily a "church," but something more "organic." The difficult thing is that my wife isn't necessarily on the same page. I think mostly because she has a close friend there, and still feels that there's something "right" about organized church. She's a very structured and routine oriented person, so I understand her discomfort with not knowing what to expect next. I have all but completely quit attending services these past few months, and in the process, my relationship with Christ has taken on a completely new life, which I'm thrilled about! In addition, He has driven a couple of close friendships to a much deeper level and has brought some new people into my life who are on a similar journey with God and are excited about growing in relationship with Him.

Like I said, though, my wife isn't at the same place yet. I understand that we're all on a different journey with God and don't look down on her, or others who are in a different place. The difficult thing, though, is that I have these messages bouncing around in my head from childhood that say, "it's wrong not to attend church with your family," "you're the head of the household, like Christ is the church," "You are the spiritual leader of your home, so you need to make a decision." Well, sometimes decisions can be harmful to a family, and I have no desire to drive a wedge between myself and my wife, or to create drama between us and the church we attend. I believe that when Christ said He would send the Holy Spirit to lead us; He meant it, so I'm trying to just be patient and let Him lead in His time and His way. I've been praying that the Lord would align our hearts and that whatever decision is made, we would make it together. I just wondered if any of you had any thoughts on any of this. Thanks!
Tami - April 23rd, 2013 at 1:03 PM
Thank you for this. I think as Christians we are bombarded with guilt form satan when we have to walk away from something. We have been a foster home for the past 3 years, also having three kiddos of our own. We have both felt that season was coming to a close for our family, for many reasons, but the need is soo overwhelming I would let guilt push me back into the corner of if we don't do this, who will? Today I spoke with our people at child welfare, and we are officially 'on hold' as a home. WHEW! Can't wait to see what God has next for us!!!!!
Elizabeth - April 23rd, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Your words are wise and so very true. It's still heartbreakingly sad when the walking away is from family members. But still, it IS brave to walk away from a toxic situation, and I'm trying so desperately to do so.
Jean - April 23rd, 2013 at 4:47 PM
We have our first foster child, and I am STRUGGLING. It's only been 3 months. I wonder if this is really our calling, because I feel so strongly we all need to step up and care for these thousands of hurt children in our own backyards. To walk away after all the words professing how important this all is makes me cringe and feel like a hypocrite. I do not intend to disrupt this placement and will see it through to the end, but what about after? Your post gives me lots to think about and hope that I'm not alone. Pray for me to come to the best conclusion for us!
angela - May 31st, 2013 at 9:05 AM
I almost gave up on writing this - tech problems:) And how random that in this long scroll I came upon your comment.
I want to say, u r not alone. We were foster parents with 2 of our own biological kids. It was heart wrenchingly difficult. Many days I was on my ki9tchen floor, a puddle, praying and reading scripture through sobs and tears begging God to make it stop. I was desperate for the placement to end. Am I painting a tragic picture? I hope so - it was the hardest thing I've ever done as an adult. I thought I was a Good Samaritan until that precious 2 year old came to us and shattered any illusions I might have had. I would wake up every morning full of dread and fear. When I found out i was pregnant again it was the last straw and w/o my husbnad knowing I asked her to b placed elsewhere. I felt god saying "ovey" the whole time and have been living with deep sadness for how I ended it all. But it felt like the only option. This experience has kept me and my husband locked up in fear of trying to help again. It is so sad and I am despereately praying god will redeem this situation somehow. I want to serve and love again. So far one regreat is not begging my church family for more help. They had already don w so much and it was humiliating to keep asking. But I would gladly trade my pride in hindsight. I needed counseling.
KK - April 23rd, 2013 at 4:59 PM
Brave is more than you're post will ever know. I have a dear friend and I that have had this conversation numerous times. We both believe that we aren't ready to fold 'em. You have given me a little inspiration and a cause to get back on bended knees for His guidance, love, grace and forgiveness.
Libby - April 24th, 2013 at 9:24 AM
This is very timely. My husband is in ministry and we have been facing some hard decisions about staying in our church or going. So hard to give up on our community, ones who have loved us, because of issues with leadership. Praying I can take some of this to heart as we are making decisions. Thank you.
Michelle - April 24th, 2013 at 11:54 AM
I always struggle with this because the relationship that is toxic is my mother. How do I stay healthy when I am called to "honor they mother"?
Mitzi - April 24th, 2013 at 3:08 PM
My "walking away" was from my 21 year-old daughter who was struggling with chemical addictions and depression. For years I had tried to tell her what to do, why to do it, with whom, etc... (you get the idea). An older friend who had been through something similar with her daughter suggested that I try a word-fast: no calling, no texting, no emailing - no initiating communication with her. Instead, every time I thought of my daughter I was to pray for her and trust that God was actively working in her life. Surprise! The Holy Spirit actually does a better job of taking care of her than I do! Besides gaining a new appreciation for His ability to do much greater things than I could ever think, I have gained a healthier relationship with my daughter. And my daughter is learning to depend on herself and have a personal relationship with God away from Mom and Dad. Thanks, Jen, for the encouragement and the reminder to keep walking away from my "job" of being the Holy Spirit for my daughter.
Emily Wierenga - April 24th, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Hi Jen,
Thank you for inspiring us and for faithfully following Jesus.
I am the one who asked you a few weeks ago if I could do a giveaway of 7 on my blog; the winner of that giveaway was Karin Fendick:

Karin Fendick
Box 564
Gilbert Plains, Manitoba R0L 0X0

If you could send her a copy of the book I'd be so grateful.

(the giveaway post is here: http://www.emilywierenga.com/2013/04/imperfect-prose-on-thursdays-what-it.html)
Brette - April 25th, 2013 at 7:09 AM
Thank you for your profound words of wisdom! Currently, I am dealing with a relative who exudes bitterness and insecurity. And it's been such a depressing situation that my husband asked me if I think anti-depressants are the answer -- for me! A dear friend pointed me in your direction-- love your blog!-- and her/your sweet assurance of my sanity was encouraging, to say the least. I've been trying to gracefully back away from the potentially vitriolic situation by claiming a need for personal "space". Once this relative appears to be moving in the right direction toward personal growth & healing via a Christian counselor, I'm hoping it will be safe to stop keeping her at arm's length.
"Toffee" is the perfect euphemism though, because this is definitely a sticky situation. :/
Heidi - April 25th, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Excellent article. After years of trying to manipulate/solve/help a loved one's addiction issues. I surrendered. I realized it was not something I could do and said "You get it all Jesus. I am helpless." Now in hindsight I realize I should have done that earlier. He's been clean and sober for 2 years...not because of me but because of God.
Cynthia Sharp - April 25th, 2013 at 2:32 PM
Such wisdom! So eloquently shared! Thank you!!!!
Lindsey - April 26th, 2013 at 7:20 AM
Oh Kenny! So wise.
Lauren - April 26th, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Perfectly timed! Well said...
Heather Boeschen - April 26th, 2013 at 9:47 AM
My daughter (6th grade) went through something similar in 4th grade -- 4th Grade!! It was so, so painful at the time; much more painful than if I had gone through it myself. There were so many tears, and so many times where my Mama Bear wanted to intervene but Sane Mama knew that was a bad idea. She came through it, and the best of all was that she now has mad skillz in friend-making and even madder skillz in knowing when to tell people in the nicest possible way "I'm done here." There truly is a tipping point where situations become so toxic you have to extricate yourself or suffer lasting damage and all the mess she experienced at age 9 (when the stakes were painful but low) taught her invaluable lessons she will use for the rest of her life. It was a good lesson for me too, to resist swooping in and rescuing her from all the hurt. She is much stronger and more confident and I am not in jail for beating up 4th graders. Win-win!
Andrea - April 26th, 2013 at 7:06 PM
Did you just spend the last 2 weeks in my house (and my head)? You hit it on the head, sista!
Alece Ronzino - April 26th, 2013 at 7:41 PM
Amanda - April 27th, 2013 at 10:08 AM
I cannot express how much I needed this encouragement. I am struggling to create my first ever boundaries with family. Funny, how God works, not? I just "happened" to check your blog and ended up in tears of relief. Thank you.
Susanelizabeth - April 27th, 2013 at 10:08 AM
Dead.On. (hands raised in air, stomping feet and thanking you.Word "fitly spoken")
Kelly - April 27th, 2013 at 12:47 PM
I'm reading Make Over (by ...well you know... Jen Hatmaker). And I couldn't get over... Monkey, who are you dancing for? I'm starting to think these two things are tied together. Am I squeezing with droplets barely coming just to be all things to all people? Now I just have to sit down with the Holy Spirit and find which lemons I should be squeezing and to pretty much stop dancing for anyone else (easier said then done for this people please child).
Chrissy - April 27th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Soon after God led me to where I am now, He began opening doors for me to use my gifts and make a difference... or try to, at least. Twelve years and many heartbreaks and battles later, there has been no change. For 12 years, I have been met with nothing but resistance and it's now affecting my children. I'm walking away. It's time. I believe God led me to your blog to encourage my heart today. Thank you.
Tracy - April 27th, 2013 at 9:53 PM
I haven't read all of the hundreds of comments, but thank you for this wonderful article. After 50 years of living an exhausting life of keeping everyone happy, I am now being "selfish" and taking care of myself. Of course, that's after being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, and even fibromyalgia. Yes, I have been hard on my mind, my body, and my emotions. However, after some serious life changes - and walking away from some very toxic relationships - I am on the mend. It will take some time, but I already feel new life breathing into my being. So thankful that it's never too late to start doing things the right way. =)
Michelle - April 28th, 2013 at 12:22 PM
This blog was divinely read TODAY. I needed this in my life.
Kathi - April 28th, 2013 at 3:39 PM
Just started "7" on pg 20. Didn't even read this blog yet, but wanted to send you a message. My daughter loaned her book to me and I do believe it is my time to read it. Am giving up the scale for seven days and truly felt God leading me to! I love your writing style. If I didn't have to go teach my second grade class tomorrow, I'd read "7" til the end! Hi to Laura Story when you speak with her. I'm the one who gave her the yellow bracelet a few weeks ago and I know her cousins.
Amy Ellison - April 29th, 2013 at 12:33 PM
"We hold private disdain for the one who quit, the one who pulled out, drew a line in the sand, the one who said no more. We secretly wonder if they shouldn%u2019t have tried harder, stayed longer, if this isn%u2019t an indicator of their flimsy loyalty."


"often the bravest thing we can do is stop fighting for something that will never, ever be well."

Thank you, from one struggling with guilt over a decision yet to be walked-out...
Dixie - April 29th, 2013 at 12:51 PM
A hearty AMEN to this one!!! It is so freeing to realize we get to choose life over death, even in relationships...doesn't mean we don't forgive, and pray for His very best in their lives, but sometimes they need to find that place without us being involved...He is more than capable of doing it without us; sometimes with us, but sometimes without.... Love this post!!!
Amy - April 29th, 2013 at 1:45 PM
My husband and I were JUST talking about this this morning and I am taking it as confirmation of what I already knew in my heart. When I was growing up as a kid in church - the instructions were clear - NO MISSIONARY DATING. Meaning, don't date a guy because you think you are so holy that you will rub off on him and he will be saved because of your incredibly powerful witness. No. That's a recipe for disaster. Yet, subtly, we (especially women) are encouraged to engage in missionary friendships or communities or even churches. When a relationship is draining the life out of us - it's all give and no take - well, we should just stay the course and if our soul gets destroyed in the process, so be it. Suffering for Jesus and all that. It's hard to know where the line is. Massive amounts of prayer and discernment are necessary. But thanks Jen for pointing out that there is a line and making the decision to cut bait is making the decision to leave redemption with God - where it belongs. LOVE that!
Katherine - April 29th, 2013 at 2:15 PM
Exactly what I needed to hear at this time in my life. Thank you.
Lisa - April 29th, 2013 at 5:40 PM
Coupla' things.
This would have been nice BEFORE I became obsessed with the hand sewn black chic skirt. That was too small so I had to sew a fat-panel in. That I sewed in upside down. That I had to hand embroider since the FTP threw proportions off. After I ripped out the piece and sewed it in righ side up.

If "sunk cost fallacy . . . Manganese . . . Even the word is ludicrous." Means anything to you, great tie-in. If not familiar, go rent Uncorked with Minnie Driver.
Rhonda - April 29th, 2013 at 6:23 PM
Oh I so agree with this. We let our kids walk away a couple of times and I have not one regret--nor do they!! Life is hard enough without adding unnecessary misery!!
Melinda Hohenberger - April 29th, 2013 at 7:33 PM
Thank you so much for this post especially the part about walking away gracefully. You gave me clarity say no more to a very toxic "friendship" that has consumed and evaporated me for the last eight years. I will no longer be the one she vents to. I will pray for her but will no longer treated as someone who has no value.

Ann McGhee - April 29th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Thanks for the Big Ole Belly Laugh!
A couple of thoughts to add . . . In my husband%u2019s family toffee is called %u201CCrunch.%u201D My Mother %u2013 in %u2013 law, Elizabeth, used to make it every year at Christmas with friends she had known since childhood. The first time I saw her make it, she and her friends were in their mid- sixties. It was a P-R-0-J-E-C-T!
For many years, my family enjoyed the wonderful, mouth melting product of her labors. She would make us a couple of batches and bring it to us when she came for the holidays. We would share it with friends who came to our home during her visits. Knowing what a true labor of love it was for her to make it, always made it the sweetest of gifts.
Word got out about %u201CElizabeth%u2019s incredible Crunch.%u201D I started to get bombarded with requests for the recipe . . . %u201Cthat is, if it isn%u2019t a family secret.%u201D I would get it from Elizabeth, and give it to them and then they would contact me and ask if I would teach them how to make it. I told them, %u201CI%u2019m sorry, I%u2019m just a connoisseur, I am not a Crunch Yoda. Besides, do you realize how much work and how hard it is make good Crunch? It is a fine art form. It is something that cannot be taught in one sitting (or more accurately, one long standing.)%u201D But my friends were not to be thwarted. A group of women leaders I was mentoring rioted and demanded I contact Crunch Yoda to come disciple them in the fine art of Crunch Making. After realizing they were stealing all our secret stashes of Crunch, I relented, petrified these crazy eyed women would leave us only crumbs. So, down Elizabeth came from PA with her candy thermometer in hand.
Eight women gathered in my kitchen and Crunch Yoda showed us how and when to stir, to turn up or down the heat, to add an ingredient, know when the concoction was ready to pour out on the prepared surface . . . every bit and piece of advice she had learned standing next to her mother, and that she and her friends had perfected, she poured out to us. When we were done hours later, we had a taste of heaven to savor and share with our families.
It confirmed what I already knew for myself. Though I enjoy Crunch, I have no desire to be a Crunch Maker. For most of the women that day, they discovered the same. They were not called to be Crunch Makers either. But we all also learned, that if we really wanted to learn, we would need to apprentice ourselves to a Crunch Yoda like Elizabeth. Some tasks, projects, require a master to teach us how to create works of art such as Crunch. And to make really good Crunch, you must stand at the masters side and practice over and over again each part of the process. If your heart and soul and passion calls you to such a work, then go find your Crunch Yoda. If not, then enjoy the craftsmanship of others guilt free.
Elizabeth made Crunch into her 80%u2019s and was always willing to make Crunch disciples by standing alongside them and walking them through the process. She died a few years ago and with her went our family%u2019s Crunch Connection. Our family misses them both dearly.

Laurie - October 15th, 2014 at 6:08 AM
Beautiful story and analogy, Ann. Thanks for sharing. It's amazing how connected a beloved person can become with what they make for the family, but we have those in our family too.
Amy - April 30th, 2013 at 7:42 AM
Thank you for writing this article! I believe God is using it to affirm our decision to pull our daughter from her toxic school environment and strengthen us for the road ahead. You are a blessing to me personally and as is evident by the number of comments listed, to many others as well! Thank you again for your honest and insightful words.
Hilary @ KatrinkaJane - April 30th, 2013 at 10:59 PM
THIS is one of my top prayer needs right now. My soul is so weary, and I feel like I'm going crazy sometimes, dealing with my situation for the last 15 months. I'm afraid it probably falls into the "simply too worthy to abandon, regardless" category, but man...just to entertain the possibility of releasing all of it is such a relief. Thank you. Guess that leaves me with prayer and asking for intercession. Thank you, Jen.
June - May 1st, 2013 at 2:40 PM
I would like to put the finish on this, "know when to walk away and know when to run!" For the sake of graciousness and keeping those tender parts tender, I'm running. Thank Jen, The Lord used you to confirm what He was already telling me, your good hearted words were the nudge I needed to be courageous and leave these toxic friendships.
Kim Tavernier - May 2nd, 2013 at 3:39 AM
Walked away from trying to help someone navigate a broken relationship because they didn't really want help, they wanted to be right.
Sheila - May 2nd, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Thank you so much for this entry. It's funny that you mention the nature of 7th graders, because right now I am finishing up a career as a 7th grade teacher in an inner-city school. I have officially resigned for next school year and have a month left of school to go. I have struggled for a year now whether to leave this job or not. I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to change the world; I wanted to touch kids lives with the love of Christ. But, there is only so many times you can be called a, "#*&@# @$#*#" in class before it gets to you.
This line is particularly poignant to me: "the levels of unhealth and spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us,... It can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness." That's exactly how I feel. This job is taking so much out of me, and enough is enough. Thank you for writing this; it has confirmed that I made the right decision
Sharon - May 8th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
After 12 years of pouring into the vat, I am leaving a ministry in Christian Ed that I LOVED. We have just grown too far apart with too many conflicting views on how to lead the next generation. I am taking the next year as a "sabbatical" to heal and raise my family. For those of us who have had the courage to walk away, are there any "must reads" or "must do's" to help with the healing process? I have much to muddle through as I'm sure others do too. Is there a support group for recovering Christians who love Jesus but been burned by organized Christianity? : )
Marie - February 12th, 2014 at 3:46 AM
Hi Sharon, this is late, but in case you still see this, try 'When we were on fire' by Addie Zierman.
Mandi - May 13th, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Thank you Jen.
JoEllen - May 13th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
This was just what I needed!
Lita - May 16th, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Thank you for so eloquently wording my sentiments! I made a gigantic decision last summer that has continued to plague me. Did I make the right decision? Was I being selfish? Was I being impatient? Should I have stuck it out? Thank you for putting my heart at ease.
J - May 16th, 2013 at 7:10 PM
I can't imagine you get to all 218 comments but. Girl..... I needed this one. Be assured that the HOLY SPIRIT is moving you in your words and TIMING. Thank God! Wow. I started my own business right when I had my 2nd baby (crazy but who knew? not me) and I have decided to walk away because I can't be the kind of mom I want to be and keep doing the business. And I'm the girl who usually stays out of pride. Thank you!!
Lauren M. - May 19th, 2013 at 7:15 AM
This perspective is so freeing. I think it's the world's view of quitting that messes us up and makes us stay at something we need to move on from b/c we don't want to be seen at week or quitters. (I think this also ties in with the world's glorification of being super busy) But, hey isn't doing the right thing usually the hardest ? It's easier to stay stuck and hope for change. It's really hard to quit, move on, start something new. The cool thing about hard things is that they remind us that we are weak on our own and we need Jesus. Thanks Jen for this great perspective, especially for women who have a seemingly inborn desire to "do it all".
Meredith - May 21st, 2013 at 4:17 PM
I don't even know where to begin, but just let me say...thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing this. This is my first time visiting your blog and I couldn't be more touched and encouraged by reading these thoughts. As a Christian, I think the line gets very blurry on when the time is to walk away...Is that giving up hope? AHHHHH....over this past year I have felt a strong urge to check myself into the looney bin over being okay with walking away from toxic co-dependent relationships. I folded a long time ago, but the guilt of "giving up" has been lurking for some time. Bless you!
Amy - May 28th, 2013 at 9:17 PM
Thanks you over and over for this post...every time I feel the urge to lash out, be proven right, seek revenge, I re-read and know that is not godly! Thank you for spelling this out so clearly!
Kim - June 1st, 2013 at 10:44 PM
These words spoke such truth about a situation I've been facing. Especially loved this: often the bravest thing we can do is stop fighting for something that will never, ever be well."

I just broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years. We had planned to get married and had the full support of all of our friends and family. On the outside, it looked like we had the perfect relationship. But on the inside, I was slowly dying. The Lord had made it clear to me awhile ago that we were not right for one another, even though we are both good people. I have nothing against the man I broke up with almost 3 weeks ago and have perfect peace that this is right, but it was, by far, the hardest decision I have ever had to make and these have been 3 of the hardest, loneliest days I have ever faced. In the midst of it all though, God has reminded me over and over that He is over and in and through all of this and that trusting and obeying Him is the bravest, best, thing we can ever do in any situation.

Thank you for writing so honestly and bringing such encouragement. And for making me laugh. :)

And if you ever decide to give toffee another go, there's a brilliant recipe for toffee that I've used for several years here: http://frenchknots.blogspot.ca/2008/12/toffee-101.html
She gives good instructions on what the caramel should look like as it goes through the various stages, and instructions for when to keep stirring and how to test for doneness.
If you ever decide it's time for another shot.
Else, there are plenty of places to buy delicious toffee! ;)
Deb - June 2nd, 2013 at 1:51 PM
I cried all day yesterday...Seeing this piece was timely, maybe a day late.
When I was a kid I thought tragedy was schools burning down, plane crashes, car crashes, etc. I did not know enough to worry about disease, the weather, that worry came later as I became a mother.
Now my mothering days are past. I know more. Have seen more.

I find out, now, that tragedy is loss of family. Total utter complete rejection of my person-hood by children, step children. I now know that families disintegrate.
Yesterday, with help from my brilliant daughter, who I learn great lessons from every day, I was given 'permission' to draw a line in the sand.
This decision puts a heavy challenge to my marriage. But I think without making this decision my spirit would be destroyed. I was well on my way in that direction.

I have a daughter, first born, who has made one bad choice after another and in the process has destroyed her children and broken my heart. Her life story is a dirty book.
I have a step daughter who is vicious and has worked very creatively to put a wedge in between her Father and myself. Her Father is the best thing that has ever happened to me....But he refuses to see how she hurts me and who she is....he can't bear to open his eyes.

When I was young, all I ever wanted was a family....because I really didn't have one. I was the only child of two very distant people who drank heavily. My life existed in my imagination.

So, the idea of stepping away....which I should have done years ago....is a hard one to swallow. There are some things worse than death.
Oddly, I make great toffee....without much problem!
Geri - May 21st, 2014 at 1:37 AM
I am reading this long after the initial comment, searching for words that will help me with the separation between us and our bipolar daughter. She is the one who has distanced from us claiming she has been emotionally abused etc. She has struggled with self esteem issues from a young age and has been on disability for bipolar for 10 yrs. (My father and brother were also bipolar, and alcoholics) We weren't perfect but our home was loving and peaceful, and we do love our daughter. We have walked on pins and needles with her for years trying not to offend her. The majority of the work of the relationship fell on us. She now refuses to let us see our only two grandchildren. We have tried so hard for so long, and if she had not distanced we would still be putting up with her behaviors. We would not have walked away from our child. It has helped me to read the experiences of others here.
Kirsten - June 4th, 2013 at 9:14 PM
I don't mean to be a cheeseball...but I am going to be one. I recently came across your blog after reading your post Worst End of the Year Mom Ever. Which by the way was dead on. I am there.

Here comes the cheese...I really truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is unclear. Sometimes it's like getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer. I just had a sledgehammer moment when reading this post.I found you for a reason. For that I am sure.

I am at a crossroads in my life right now. I would get into the nitty gritty but quite frankly I'm guessing you just couldn't possibly have that kind of time so I will sum up. Family feud. Nuff said. In-laws...nuff said. Anywho...my husband and I have decided to walk away. Not from his entire family...just an incredibly toxic, poisonous, stressful, sad, hurtful relationship. We have beat the dead horse. We have gone back and forth to the well. It's dry. We have been bitten "three" times. We are done. It is terrible. Yesterday I had a particularly stressful day because of it (we live across the street from one another to add insult to injury). So last night I had a conversation with another one of my in laws (we are not feuding with all of them). During our conversation we agreed to take the high road. That despite all the evilness surrounding us we were going to just move on. Be done. Say no more. Even though the thought of that is sad and final etc...it has to be done. For our survival. Our health. Our sanity.The juice ain't worth the squeeze.

Before bed I sat and read a bunch of Pinterest quotes...mostly inspirational. As I read them...I felt a weight in my chest lift away. Each inspiring quote I read...I felt a little lighter. At peace. All day today...at peace. It's been downright lovely. Then because of a seemingly innocent post on Facebook directing me to your post re: Worst End of the Year Mom Ever I thought hey "this girl is hilarious I wonder if she has a blog?". Now here I am...This post spoke to me. Because hey I would be lying if I didn't admit that we feel like douchebags when relationships (especially close family ones) fail. If we take the high road though...maybe it isn't a failure after all. Like you said..."You'll never regret being gracious...".

So I think I found you at a pivotal moment in my life. I was meant to find you. I'm so glad I did.

Oh...and I have a great story about my own misadventures with making Taffy. I feel your toffee pain. I really truly do. Thanks for being awesome.
Holly - June 4th, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Love love love this post!!! BUT .... What to do when that toxic relationship is a family member who's a professing Christian? .... sigh
Emily - June 7th, 2013 at 12:35 PM
I'm wondering....what do you do once you do burn that bridge? I probably should have walked away from my ex-boyfriend, we go to a super small school and before the summer started, I talked to him and felt the need to tell him exactly how I felt about his actions. unfortunately, I feel like I should've just not even had that conversation and just walked away. Now I feel like an idiot. Is this something that I should just let go and forgive myself? or what else can I do? I was an idiot for not walking away I told him what everyone had thought about his actions over the last year...because no one would tell him, he didn't know what others had said....I just wish I never said anything and just left it alone.
Jammie - June 9th, 2013 at 3:08 PM
Wish I would have read this in April when it was posted. But, God has PERFECT timing. Trying to figure out if I need to walk away from a friendship. This post is extremely helpful. Thank you, Jen.
Ramblingirl - June 13th, 2013 at 8:28 PM
Where was this blog post when I needed it??!! Just kidding! I just left a position in church after much prayer, counsel, crying, crying, prayer, and counsel....and some more crying. I know I did the right thing but so much of what held me back was not wanting to be a quitter. Thanks for the good words on a tough subject.
Melissa - June 14th, 2013 at 12:35 AM
So. Good. Amen.
Sarah - June 14th, 2013 at 7:50 PM
Well, I am worried about your toffee problem. I have a fab recipe that I have not been able to mess up. Of course, I am also the one who thought Life of Pi was actually about a tiger.

50 vanilla wafers, crushed
1/3 C butter, melted
1/4 C brown sugar, packed

Mix ingredients together, press into bottom of 9x13 pan bake 8 minutes at 350.

1/2 C butter
1/2 C brown sugar

Heat to a boil, then boil 1 minute (don't worry about the temp!). Pour on crust. Let stand 2 minutes, bake 10 minutes.

6 oz chocolate chips

Sprinkle on top of hot toffee. Wait a few minutes then spread it out.

Has been foolproof for me. Only problem was the time my sister tried to make it with margarine. BUTTER all the way!

Southernmom - June 21st, 2013 at 6:49 AM
I have been so criticized about why I chose to walk away from a toxic environment and toxic family members. I think the part that bothers me the most is that they seem "holy" while I appear the weirdo quitter. God clearly told me to leave a situation. I began to be a watered down version of the Christians that I was hanging out with. I obeyed and though I am lonely at times, I have no regrets.
The family is the hardest part. How do I deal with the constant animosity they have toward me? I am protecting our children from the toxic environment that they create. No child deserves to be fed lies, manipulated and possibly harmed.
nickole - July 23rd, 2013 at 10:27 PM
this blog speaks to my heart---more than you'll ever know. Walking away from toxic relationships is not easy and while my biggest fears include being misunderstood, I have come to the realization that sometimes you simply have to walk away....set boundaries...release yourself and your children and your husband from toxicity...even when other people tell you that you're foolish or 'blood is thicker than water' or whatever religious jargon they want to throw your way.

The truth is that toxicity is poison and if you don't get away from it, you will slowly die.

thank you, Jen Hatmaker.
Stacy - September 24th, 2013 at 3:14 AM
Ohmigoodness. I am a new reader, and was hooked in with the same blog post that connected the greater portion of the free world. Hence, I realize that it is *highly* unlikely that you may even get this comment, and that is ok. I think it is important enough to just acknowledge.

For me, I *totally* cannot deny that I stumbled on this one by accident. I work 3 jobs (because I am crazy sauce), and the one that is the main bread and butter, taking most of my time #provideshealthinsurance, is the one that I am so miserable at.

I am a therapist for suicidal teenagers at a community mental health agency, and *they* are not the problem, if you catch my drift. It has become so very toxic there, and I feel like I can't breathe. Today was day 1 of my 2 week I need a vacation break, and I am deciding whether or not to put my 2 weeks in when I return.

This was SO freaking helpful to me with that thought, and helped me remember that I am too young to sell my soul in a way that leaves me on empty. I am grateful, and like the rest of your readership, wished it was possible to live in more than one state. :)
Carrie V - September 26th, 2013 at 12:43 PM
thank you for this encouragement! I needed to hear this today as i continue to deal with a major life change we made a year ago. When we were deciding what to do, God gave us Hebrews 12:12-13 ("lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.") but it is easy to question that decision when you are still adjusting to a new life and there are those who think you are "running away". God wants us healthy, and sometimes He does ask us to just walk away. thanks again
Marietta BH - October 17th, 2013 at 11:43 PM
It is so crucial to know what your limits are and when to give up. Many people mistakenly think that one is weak if they walk away and that is not true. We are so caught up with other people's viewpoints and judging ourselves that we never stop and think about our own mindset. Being a Hindu female, we deal with this constantly since 'society' is what 'matters most.' Where do you think arranged marriages, pre birth christenings and expensive bridal dowries come from?
anonymous - February 11th, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Thank you. Just read your post for 2/11/14, and clicked on over. I've been dealing with a difficult person for a very long time, now, and have such guilt for wanting to walk away from our relationship. What's more difficult is that we are neighbors. I have tried to love this person as Jesus would, and though I know we should live and love sacrificially, I don't think God would have us love without boundaries. I am so grieved that over the years she has not chosen to stop playing victim. But she hasn't. And she's looking for victim supporters. It's so achingly difficult to watch and exhausting to witness. I've been asking God for guidance and strength to do the godly thing. And, I guess...for me...that means to choose not to be friends, but to love her from more of a distance. I know this will hurt her and she won't understand, and she'll likely be angry at me for pulling back. But, honestly, the counsel I've received is that if I were truly real with her, about the exhaustion that she causes because she refuses to move forward, is that she wouldn't hear my message. I feel like a schmuck. I feel like an abandoning friend. But I've stepped back enough to see that I'm loving in the only safe way I can to still be able to function well. I believe that I'm hearing from God on this one, though, so I can't worry about my feelings. I have to put on my big girl panties, be mature, be loving, and be healthy. Where's the chocolate (or the toffee?). Thank you, Jen.
meredith - March 7th, 2014 at 4:04 PM
Dear anonymous,

Last month, I found your comment on Jen's blog just as I was in the middle of an issue that could be similar to yours. And honestly, your response saddened me. I've been thinking about it ever since.

Your situation is unique to you and only you and the Lord know the motivations of your heart and the details of your relationship with your neighbor. I keep that in mind as I appeal to you to consider taking one more step.

You stated that you haven't shared with your friend what's on your heart, specifically the "exhaustion that she causes...". Could you consider approaching her in love and humility, to 1) assess if she is really hurting and needs a counselor and/or 2) to see if she doesn't realize the sinfulness of her attitude and it's affect on you?

If it's true that you want to be mature and loving, then avoiding the conflict to protect yourself seems just the opposite. You protect yourself from exhaustion when you have the opportunity to point her to Jesus' magnificent freedom. Not only that, it could leave a wake of confusion and pain for your friend.

Could you pay her the respect of being honest with her? Maybe your current thinking will be justified. Or maybe you will show her a grace that she craves and your relationship will be restored. Only the Lord knows.

Please receive my words with the kindness and humility with which I write them. I advocate here on behalf of your neighbor and for the restoration of relationships in order that the Lord's name will be made great.

grace and peace to you.

Polly - October 30th, 2014 at 9:31 AM
I agree there must be boundaries when anything is disturbing our inner being (soul). This is a "red flag" that something here must be looked at or addressed in some way. Sometimes that way is hard boundaries which gives all time to reflect in the absence of adding more to unravel. Often is it all who have something to learn or to discover.

I walked away from a soul killing situation three years ago. After many years of attempting to find another way (oh there I go feeling like a quitter, enough said)... It has taken me this long to begin to recover my soul from the abyss. Thankfully, the journey was understood to be primarily one of the self but my neighbors (one of whom has known me for many years) has watched as this recovery is taking place. It has been difficult for her (I think anyway) and after a stint of her wanting to "save me" and my letting her know that she could not and to just let me work things through she has been as patient as she can be without becoming overly involved in my soul recovery. Then again, I have been blessed with a "safety net", which often is God's way, with a Partner who has the ability to listen for hours if needed while I rant or cry or just talk.

While in the midst of soul recovery we often attempt to find another to "save" us through listening and giving our grief to the other. This does not work, the work is ours alone internally, but it may take some time to discover that simple fact. Sometimes, almost 100 tries to make the Toffee will be required.

The most loving thing you could do for your neighbor/friend is to place boundaries protecting your own soul and encouraging your neighbor to look within for the answers to the souls question and search for its way back home. This is simply my very humble opinion.

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