One time my husband accused me of dragging a dead body behind me… and he was right. It was not a corpse of course, but a dead relationship that I just kept pulling along behind me. It was very heavy, as lifeless things tend to be, and eventually it started to stink. I had invested so much into this situation, I had prayed so hard, I had wanted it to work out so badly that I could not even acknowledge that it was dead. I think in the deepest parts of myself I believed that if I just tried hard enough, believed strongly enough – somehow I could make it live, but I couldn’t. This meant I had to admit defeat and I did not want to do that. The problem was that my fixation on this situation had blinded me to the truth and I was beginning to hurt other people by not being willing to let go. The “smell” was affecting everyone.
We come to these places in life sometimes where we have to acknowledge that something is dead. Maybe it’s a relationship, or a job, or a dream. Maybe it is just a little thing, an activity or interest that has outlived its usefulness and “life” in our story. Some people are really good at telling when a thing is no longer life-giving and good for them, others like me – suck at it. I think at the root of this problem there is likely a core issue that keeps us from seeing the truth. For me it was a lack of knowing my own worth and value. I was willing to tolerate and excuse bad conditions because I did not value the needs of my own heart enough. I could not admit that this situation was no longer healthy or good for me so I kept on trying to revive a dead thing and I could not see that it was useless.
Here’s the serious part about all this – if you stay with a dead thing for too long, it will kill you. Its decay will make you sick and eventually rob you of life. I look back on my own story and see so many situations where I stayed too long trying to help, trying to be a “good person”, trying to convince people that the path they were on was dangerous. In the meantime my own well-being was compromised leading to increased blindness. The point is – there is a time to draw a line, to walk away, to cut ties or to step back. The trick is knowing when to do that and the trouble is you must make that call – no one can do it for you.
So what are some signs or red flags that should begin to get our attention? At SaveGoodness we talk about the 4 building blocks for an authentic, well-functioning life: Beauty, Trueness, Love, and Life-Giving Things. In a situation or relationship that is “living” there is a give and take of these things. Let’s say, for instance, your job. You should be able to find and give some degree of:
- Beauty to your work, like smiles on the faces of grateful customers.
- You should have and give a sense of Trueness, honesty and respect for instance.
- You should sense Love and purpose in your work at some level – so you love serving customers for example and feel their gratitude for what you do.
- Finally, something should be Life-Giving and inspiring to you about your work and you should feel like the work you do gives those things to others as well – let’s say you clean houses – so your work allows you to gift people with a fresh and healthy place to live, it cheers and encourages them to come home to your work and that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning.
We should begin to question the situation if none of these needs are being met – especially if you feel you are GIVING these things with nothing being given in return. Is this thing producing good fruit in your life? Is it helping you become a better you? Sometimes things can start that way then change – where is it now?
If a situation or relationship is lacking all 4 of these building blocks you should consider whether it is still “alive”. It is ok to let go of something that is dead. In fact that is healthy. I would say, however, that before you sever a friendship or relationship that you do some serious soul searching. Have you tried to provide any or all of these building blocks? Have you done your best to meet the needs of the other person? Is this relationship (business or personal) a reciprocal environment, meaning are you investing alone or is the other person investing also? Often relationships go through seasons of change and hardship – focusing on these building blocks together could help save a dying relationship.
If you are like me and have a hard time ending things it is Goodness to just think about the situations/relationships in your life and what condition they are in. We encourage you to Choose Life and let go of the dead stuff.
Do you know how to tell when something has outlived it's "life"? Let's talk about it.