A few years back, I used to handle things very differently than I do today. I was terribly concerned about what other people thought of me. For example, if there were ever issues of contention or stress or frustration with other people, I would get into a heated discussion and then, later on, feel bad about it and do whatever I could to make nice. I would often hang on and keep myself involved with people and in situations that, honestly, did not hae much potential for much good. But I would do it because I didn't want them to think I "couldn't handle" it. I anticipated that if I walked away or got upset and backed out then the other person would call me "immature" or put me down or call me "weak"... because people had. People do say things like that.
So, in order to avoid the dreaded rejection and condemnation, I would put myself through a lot of stress and emotional suffering. Pretty sad, huh? But then, though some seriously hard work, I realized a few things.
First, there is no rule anywhere that says I need to be friends and buddies with everybody. In fact, there is no rule anywhere that says I need to be friends and buddies with all Christians. It doesn't mean I "hate" people just because I realize I don't want to deal with them or don't want to deal with them in a certain context.
Second, I realized that I put myself through a lot of suffering needlessly. I held on much longer than I needed to and sometimes put those closest to me through distress because of it. There was nothing really good that came out of it. Sure, I was known for being so "nice," in fact I don't think I ever had any enemies, but I realized that this was mere cold comfort in light of the drain I felt on my life. Plus, I wondered to myself why even Jesus had enemies. Not like I was looking to make enemies just for the sake of it, but the truth is that having no enemies might just mean that you never stand for anything and you never draw a line for your own life about what you like or don't like, what you will and will not deal with, and what or who you do and do not want to allow in. Maybe you have no enemies because you treat yourself like you aren't really a self at all.
Third, I realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "Hey... I just don't want to deal with you or with this. Nothing personal. I don't want it to get personal, so let's part ways." Not only is there nothing wrong with it, and not only is it a smart thing to know ones limits and boundaries, but I realized the very freeing truth that I do not owe anyone an explanation for myself.
Lastly, I realized that people are not going to like this. There is an expectation that I will play by the "rules," and if I don't it won't be easy. They are going to tell me that I am a bad person. They are going to blame me and try to make me feel awful. They are going to tell me I need to "grow up." They are going to be offended. They are going to assume malice behind my motives, and they are going to accuse me of wrong. And I should expect it.
But, though I do not like one bit knowing that my actions have hurt, offended, or angered someone, and though I do not love the idea of people thinking badly about me, misunderstanding me, or even spreading things about me, I do believe it is worth it in order to preserve what I want to have and not have in my life. It is true, truthful for once. My actions will not always be the right thing, but now I can at least learn. It is worth it to no longer mar and crucify any further the image of God in me, by imprisoning myself to the whims and opinions and thoughts of others. It is worth it to be true and honest.