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Key 5: Progressively End Unhealthy Relationships | 9 Keys to Healthy Relationships

So what do you do with these unhealthy relationships? You end them progressively. 

Progressively. In other words, don’t ever burn a bridge unless it’s mandatory. When you dissolve a relationship, don’t do so in anger or bitterness.

There is a right way and a wrong way to end a relationship. 

Paul and Barnabas show us the right way in Acts 15:36–41. In the midst of a mission trip, Paul and Barnabas reached in impasse over whether John Mark should come with them. The two men had ministered together for a long while, but “the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (v. 39). I’m sure the first thing they did was seek God through prayer. Whenever you’re going to end a relationship, you need to do it through prayer. And although they wanted the best for each other, the conclusion was that the best decision was to separate and both groups would continue to preach the Gospel.

Was that the right way to end the relationship? 

We do know that later in the Book of Acts they came back together and worked together. Had they not ended the relationship correctly, there would have been such a wounding that they could have not come back together and accomplished what they did for the Kingdom of God. When there is too much damage and wounding, you will be so guarded that you will never be able to come back in that relationship and maybe not into any relationship that even feels similar to it. So there is a right way to exit and there is a wrong way.

When you exit a relationship, you should do so with mutual respect and love. 

Ideally, you want to be able to say, “Even though we’re parting ways, I want the best for you, and you want the best for me, and I’m going to bless you in Jesus’ name. I want to do you good, and I am going to do you right, and I’m going to leave all the rest in the hands of God.”

Now, I’m not talking about your marriage or other covenant relationship. I’m talking about relationships that by the Word of God you can walk away from and that season is over. It’s time for you to move to a different place. Don’t burn that bridge.
Here’s the other thing about progressively ending relationships. Don’t end all your unhealthy relationships at once, because it is too stressful. 
It takes emotional energy to end a relationship, and if you cut every unhealthy relationship out of your life at one time, you are likely to be overwhelmed by the loss. Cut unhealthy relationships out of your life one at a time until you can look around and say, “All of my relationships are pleasing to God.”
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
—William James
Adapted from Paula White-Cain's best selling book "I Don't Get Wholeness...That's the Problem!"
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