Getting arrested was probably the lowest point of my life, and I became obsessed over what people were saying and thinking about me because of it. That obsession turned into anger, disappointment, and depression once I discovered some of the things that people were saying and believing about me - things that caused them to dissociate themselves from me. I allowed the actions of others to affect me negatively because we often give people outsized influence over our feelings and thoughts in an attempt to feel liked and accepted.
People have the right to leave us and form whatever opinions about us they want. However, we have the responsibility to not allow what others do and say affect our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. So, to quote Mya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Do not try to convince or stop someone from walking away from you. When they go, let them go.
Let Them Go
On two separate occasions we witness Jesus feeding his followers. In Mark 6, Jesus feeds 4,000 men (not including women and children) and at the beginning of John 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men (not including women and children). So, we can assume that at any given time, Jesus had anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 people (if you include women and children) following Him. But by the time we get to the end of John 6, Jesus has lost thousands of followers.
On hearing [Jesus’s teachings], many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. – John 6:60 & 66 NIV
Not even Jesus, at the height of his popularity, was immune from people leaving Him. When He was healing, performing miracles, and feeding the masses, they cheered Him on, followed Him, and spread good news about Him but when His directives became too difficult for them, they left.
When some people think they know how your story is going to end, they leave. When some people feel as if you have nothing more to offer them, they leave. When some people can no longer manipulate or abuse you, they leave. Do not hold on to people who choose to leave. You should not only let them go, but you should also help them go by blocking, deleting, and ignoring.
Jesus gave His followers a choice. They could leave or they could stay, and thousands decided to leave. Jesus did not run after those who chose to leave Him, and neither should you. Instead, He turned his attention to those who truly loved and supported Him.
Instead of stressing over who left you, learn to appreciate those who chose to stay with you.
You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-68 NIV
Not everyone left Jesus, the twelve disciples, including Judas, stayed. And after four years of hurt, frustration, doubt, and unemployment not everyone left me. The ones who mean the most to me stayed and through them I experienced God’s goodness, grace, love, and mercy.
We often give too much of our time and focus to those who hurt and abandoned us, instead of to those who are currently supporting us. So, take a moment, look around, and see who stayed. Place your energy on those who want the best for you - those who uplift and care for you. Love those who love you. Pour into those who pour into you. Cherish those who cherish you. Encourage those who encourage you.