I think we’ve heard it said so often that no one is perfect, some people say it stating the reality of the human flesh we dwell in and some others just use it as an excuse to dismiss ill behaviours.
Either way, a message is always conveyed, this message is that ‘another human will fall short of our expectation on them and in those times, a gracious response is what is required and not dismissing or telling them off because for all you know, it could’ve been unintentional.’
In the last few weeks, I have battled with uniting this same message with issues of relationships. I’ve had to speak with loads of young girls and women in relationships who want to know “just how far can I tolerate a bad habit before I walk away?”
Because these are human lives being dealt with, I’m always very mindful that all my counsel is not from a place of my understanding or experience but as the Holy Spirit inspires me, so on several occasions I have taken a step back to ask God “how much should this person tolerate?”. Note though, that this question is entirely different from “how many times should a person forgive?”, because the dynamics in both are entirely different and most times, the issues associated with the former aren’t necessarily offences, but with the latter, it usually is offence against the person in question.
I’ll be writing this post from a female perspective just because most of the people I have spoken with have been female. So the question simplified is “when does tolerance become folly?”. When do I identify that I have crossed over from being gracious to being outright silly?
1) When there is no obvious change after it has been spoken about severally. A person who has refused to change after several confrontations is obviously bent on their way and we should never be in a place that we feel that we need to force someone to change. If a person does not change on their own, we should never force it. Matthew 18:15-17 details how to handle such persistent issues. After speaking severally about it and even involving people who could help them, and there is no change, the bible says “treat them as you would a pagan”.
2) When the person is constantly in a defensive mode about the subject. Anything you’re not free to talk about in a relationship will not change in marriage. If they won’t freely talk about it with you in this phase, I’m afraid you must also be willing to have it same way in marriage.
3) There is never remorse, apology or restitution. The bible tells us that godly sorrow spurs a person to repentance. If your partner has wrong pointed out to them and they show no form of remorse, I think it says a lot about their heart and value system and I don’t think it is something that should be ignored, because anything you ignore in relationships, would be expected to be ignored in marriage. This is the reason for courtship stages. To talk about it all and have unified fronts in all issues that are dear to you both.
4) You are being taken for granted. It is pretty obvious when a person begins to disrespect you wilfully. If it is a habit that is as obvious as entertaining other women romantically when you two are involved or saying private stuff about you both publicly, then it is signs that such a person doesn’t necessarily rate you. I think it is fair to walk away. No one wants to be with someone who will constantly disrespect them.
5) This last point is quite a sensitive one because it involves a mans finance. Girls ask me “nothing seems to be happening, I don’t want to be like this all my life”. And it is honestly a valid concern. No woman wants to believe that she will be in a place without any form of security from the man that she will call her husband, no matter how well to do she might be. And for this point, I always say to girls that this is where “foresight” and “discernment” will kick in. Are you able to see positive change in the status of the person in the next 5/10 years? Depending on the answer, you have a decision to make. If we judge them from just the now, that will be out rightly unfair, but if we’ve been able to have a peak into their future from their current habits and decide that it will go nowhere, then it becomes justified to walk away. Not just for yourself even, but for future offspring that will be involved.
These are 5 ways to examine a situation where one is left wondering “should I stay or walk away?” But ultimately, the Spirit within us leads us in the best way to go.