I only give people the level of access to me they can handle. This is because I love who I am AS I AM, and while God is always refining my character, I have no intention of curtailing my personality merely for the acceptance and approval of others.
Once upon a time, I did not limit access to my personal life. I received everyone. I believed all people had the ability and desire to be good, I also thought biblical love was openly receiving all. I would learn in so many ways and seasons, love does not always equate to access. Some of us are better at loving people from a distance. Some of us can only love and honor people so long as they represent the idea we have of them in our minds.
Finding people in your life who will love, honor, and respect you unconditionally, in all seasons, and all proximities...is indeed a rare thing.
It is one of the reasons why Jesus only allowed three of his disciples to come up to the mount of transfiguration with him. He knew the other disciples couldn’t carry the full weight and understanding of who he was. This past year, I have done a great deal of work to curtail the level of access people have to me, my family, and my son. In many cases, making the difficult decision to assess relationships with people I genuinely care about asking myself, "is giving this person X amount of access to my life hurting or helping our relationship?"
The Bible says that we should judge a tree by its fruit. After assessing the trees and fruit of my relationships and realizing that giving certain folks too much access led to them being more critical, judgemental, or problematic in my life, I gradually began to pull away.
I also learned, pulling away doesn’t always require a conversation.
I want to believe that every relationship in my life deserves closure. I now realize, more than anything, I deserve peace. Therefore, I like to tell my friends, please don’t get familiar.
Familiarity breeds contempt. At least that’s what my Bible says. This means, no matter how much we love someone when we become too familiar or spend too much time with them, there is a tendency to dishonor.
It takes a lot of emotional intelligence and personal discipline, and quite frankly, the Holy Spirit, to stop us from dishonoring people we believe we have an intimate relationship with.
Can I tell you a secret? My life is blessed with amazing people, and I get a lot of support, golden nuggets, and gems because I do not get familiar with my friends. I recognize that every person who walks into my life is carrying a certain level of grace and oil. If I get too familiar with them and their personality, it may hinder my ability to receive the grace God has put on their life.
Everyone has grace, even the person who does not believe in Jesus and is acting like a hot mess at your job has a certain level of grace. Therefore, when I see that my friends get too familiar in my space, disrespectful, causing more harm than good, I take it as a sign that perhaps we have become "too familiar." Depending on the level of familiarity and offense, I can decide to walk away from the friendship, or distance myself from said relationship for a season -- just long enough for us to be able to value each other once again. It is not because I don’t love my friends, more than anything, I would hate for us to become a stumbling block in one another’s lives.
I encourage you, the reader, to also assess your personal relationships. Where has familiarity led to dishonor? How might creating space bless your relationships and friendships?
Issata O. is a leader, advocate, and lover of Christ. By day she is a leader in higher education, and by night she is a wife, student, and mother to a very special little boy named Mighty Manny. She believes in transforming the lives of imperfect women through the grace of a perfect God. She is the founder of The EZ Breezy Life, Manny's Village, and Issata O. Inc. Learn more about Issata O. by visiting www.issatao.com.