From childhood on our mothers warned us that “birds of a feather flock together” understanding the powerful influence of those in our inner circle.
Solomon did too.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov 27:17
We have learned that a beautiful life begins with a beautiful mind built upon the solid truths of Christ and our thoughts determine who we become.
But did you know we also mirror those we spend the most time with?
This is a critical component to successfully living From the Inside Out.
While we are called to love others, we are also advised about the company we keep “or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Prov 22:24.
For years, I allowed anyone into my “tribe” because 1) I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, 2) I was unaware of God’s Word regarding associations and 3) I valued quantity over quality when it came to friendships thinking the more friends I had the more worthy I was.
After studying scripture I knew my life needed course-correcting beginning with those within my Circle of Influence.
Some ties had to be severed if I was going to become the woman I desired to be.
I had to sever ties with:
1) The Complainer: Her cup never overflows and her life is always clouded by negativity.
From the weather, family, friends, her husband, children, co-workers, customer service, the checkout line etc she has no trouble finding issues and flaws because we will always find whatever we are looking for. “He who seeks good finds goodwill.” Prov 11:27.
Yes she loves Jesus and her church even though the music is too loud, the preacher talks too long and the sanctuary is always freezing.
Though her life reflects many blessings, she only focuses on all that is wrong.
2) The Critic: She often offers unsolicited critiques to others truly believing she is “bettering” them.
Her biting remarks and harsh words are laced with condemnation and she has conveniently forgotten her own failures and shame-filled past.
She believes she is helping you by calling attention to your “specks” all the while blinded from the “plank” in her own eye. Matt 7:3-5
3) The Comparer: While she is “okay” with life, she harbors deep-rooted jealousy towards others.
She compares her body, house, husband, career, car, clothes (you name it) to everyone else, always ending up feeling shortchanged.
She believes her lack and unhappiness is everyone else’s fault never assuming responsibility for her life.
She lives under the umbrella of “If Only” – if only she weighed less, had a husband, made more money, lived in the right neighborhood, hadn’t been mistreated, etc.
She has a victim mentality and her life reflects it.
4) The Condemner: Yes, your choice of friends, how you dress, your church attendance record, spiritual beliefs or political stance if not in agreement with her is simply wrong in her self-righteous eyes.
If she knows your past she makes certain you don’t forget it.
Bound by legalistic chains she operates and attempts to impose a rigid, religious structure of “shoulds” and “should nots” on others sadly never experiencing the true spiritual freedom that Christ offers.
5) The Complacent: She accepts her average, mediocre life “as is” and lives in the prison of her comfort zone.
While her friends are out enjoying adventure, losing the weight, achieving lofty dreams and experiencing personal and spiritual growth she remains stuck and stagnant yet refuses to make any efforts towards what she claims to want.
How do I know all of these women?
Because at one time or another I have been every single one of them.
And I know the damage she can do to anyone who comes within hearing distance.
She means no harm but when you are pursuing growth of any kind she may need to be relegated to the outer fringes of your Circle of Influence (your tribe) for a period of time.
A favorite quote reads “You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.”
Another reads “Sometimes you have to unfollow people in real life.”
This is truth!
I have to continually be mindful not only of who I allow into my inner circle but also not be one of the roles described above.
Paul was thrown into prison with Silas.
Together they prayed and sang hymns until God sent an earthquake shaking the cell doors open. (Acts 16:25-26)
How would this scenario have unfolded had Paul been in prison with someone who complained the entire time, criticized the cell conditions, compared their cell to someone else’s, condemned everyone involved or simply accepted their fate and did nothing?
Friends, now is the time to look closely at your associations.
Do you they inspire you to step up your game, grow spiritually, appreciate your blessings, dream big, upgrade your mind, your surroundings, your life?
In a dark time of life would they pray and sing with you until the storm has passed by?
Because like your mama said “birds of a feather flock together.”