If only real life was like the movies where someone’s bad behavior is turned around by another person who just won’t give up on them.
When I was dealing with my former husband’s alcoholic behavior, I went to Al-Anon meetings—a place for families to recover from the effects of living with alcoholism. There, I began to understand it is impossible to “fix” other people or make them change. I accepted that I am powerless to control others or stop them from doing destructive things should they choose to continue doing them.
We all strive to fulfill the ideal of biblical love that “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” But if we are hanging on to a toxic relationship that habitually damages our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, it may be time to look closely at what is driving our choice to stay connected.
Sometimes we hold on to what's not working out of fear. If we let go, we will lose control, the other person will fail, and we will be blamed. At other times, we stay close because it’s what other people expect us to do. Or it may be that we keep coming back for more because we fear the unknown. What would life really be like without our troublemaker in the mix?
In time, I discovered the freedom of detachment with love. Detachment—letting go—means caring enough about someone to allow them to learn from their mistakes. As I refused to continue taking responsibility for my husband’s choices and stopped covering up for him by lying and making excuses, he was positioned to face and deal with the natural consequences of his behavior.
I wasn’t giving up; I was stepping aside so God could work in his life. From a distance, I continued praying, never lost faith, and remained hopeful for a bounce-back and a change of heart that only God could bring about. Letting go was hard, but it was the best thing to do. There is a time to hold on and another to let go.
When God prompts you to let go, let go.
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