About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

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  1. Kristen,
    Oh how I want to be a beautiful flower basket overflowing with God’s love and not a withered basket with no love or beauty to give. The thing I’m dealing with right now is there is a person in my life to whom I have poured out, what I think is the best I can do, with unconditional love. I have overlooked slights, forgiven acts that have hurt me, been stung with pure rudeness and callous acts and basically taken for granted, yet am leaned upon heavily when things go wrong for them. It’s definitely a very one-sided, selfish relationship. This “relationship” really hurts. I do wonder sometimes what God thinks about toxic relationships. Is is okay to remove yourself so as to preserve your heart. I know I’m called to forgive seventy times seven…but feel like I’ve surpassed that number?? I’m in a place of pondering how to proceed from here. I don’t want to be bitter or spew out vinegar, but I do feel like I need to remove myself since I am treated so poorly and it’s damaging me emotionally. Thoughts ladies? (and gentlemen?)
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • @Bev The book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend was enormously helpful for me. I highly recommend it. In the intro, one reviewer called it something like Social Interaction 101…and it’s all from a biblical perspective. May God grant you wisdom and discernment to handle these hurts, sister. Feeling your pain.

    • Have you read Danny Silks book keep your love on? I think it will really help in your current situation. Check it out

    • Oh, Bev. Forgiveness simply means letting go of our own anger, bitterness and resentment. It doesn’t mean we have to keep putting up with another’s bad behavior and allowing them to hurt us. Praying for God to give you wisdom in this situation.

      Blessings to you,
      Jean

    • I have learned that sometimes God removes people from our lives to protect us, & He prompts us not to run after them for our own preservation. Pray for His Guidance.

    • Hi Bev, Boundaries is a VERY good book. What you do is dependent on what God tells you to do in the relationship. There are times where we remove ourselves to a distance, stay and put up boundaries with our words and actions, when we are able to help and when we are not and also times where we don’t take the behavior and words personally and remember it is the other person’s problem. We still are not a doormat. There are times where we still love sacrificially with Christ’s love and understand the behavior will continue because Jesus has something to teach us while we are in the middle of it as well as the other person. We don’t have the power to force the other person to do something. We each are responsible for our actions, and the other person is responsible for his/her actions. There are times where you can compromise, yield, or stay firm on what you will do, or say. This is the whisper of the Holy Spirit because I don’t believe there is a pat answer. Christ values relationship above all else, His to us, His or lack thereof with the other person, and ours to the other person. Forgiveness is a choice, and unforgiveness and bitterness is also a choice. May you hear is voice leading you and act in His wisdom. Blessings and ((hugs)), Joanne

  2. Kristen, thank you for this beautiful picture of living out our true identity by first beholding the awe of our Savior. This is very similar to the topic I blogged about this week! Kinda cool how God speaks the same message to each of us and it is expressed in as many different ways.

    To answer the question, I was hurt this week expressing a kindness that cost me. God directed my thoughts by these questions: For whom did I sacrifice? To whom did I express kindness? (For God and to the person.) Have I lost anything by being unacknowledged and unappreciated? Well…no. God comforted my heart that I had obeyed and He was the God who sees me. Bitterness had to flee. I can continue to love.

    • Love how you have shared your conversation with the Lord and let go of your hurt . Thank you for sharing!

  3. Bev- you obviously have a beautiful, generous heart that God has shaped, and it sounds like you’ve given a lot to this person. Two things come to mind, and I tread lightly here so as not to twist scripture, but the first thing is that God calls us to be cheerful givers… That we give with a cheerful heart. Though I definitely believe that there are times that we give even when we’re not excited to do so (our feelings won’t always line up), but I think there is something to be said for giving to one who does not appreciate your gifts- I don’t believe that that is loving, but rather enabling.
    The other verse that comes to mind is this- we are to bear one another’s burdens (those things we can’t beat on our own), but each one of us is to carry our own load (those things we can beat on our own). If it’s helpful, maybe you could look at those things that you’ve done for this person, Bev, through that lens. It is not helpful to do things for another capable adult that they can do on their own, especially if they’re ungrateful.
    I hope that this was helpful and that I didn’t take Gods Word out of context. God bless you and give you wisdom here, Bev.

  4. Kristen,

    Recently my dad fell and hit his head on his TV. He is in rehab now at a NH. I go daily to see him and check on his progress. While there I smile and say hi to the residents- trying to make their day. Also say thank you to workers there as they have a hard sometimes thankless job. A few of my ex co workers get together once a month. We talk about life and give each other prayer requests. I pray for each one and let them know. God’s love is so abundant that we must overlook flaws, especially in our mates. We must be as forgiving as Christ is to us.

    Blessings 🙂

  5. I have been in Bev’s shoes for thirteen years! Sowing and planting and loving. My person is saved and stuck. I have kept on, hoping to keep on valuing and loving and see a difference. I too have felt like quitting the relationship; matter-of-fact, just there since June 10th. It has been a long two months of struggle with my flesh.
    But God… He has kept me from doing what I’ve felt, to continue displaying His behavior. He has encouraged me to not allow another’s behavior to change mine.
    I did get a great big chuckle over the mention of “seventy times seven” (we so feel like quittin’, huh?) … I sometime take this verse as license to stop, but I believe Christ means it as a beginning/starting point. Goes along w/ “be not weary in well doing.”
    This am God led me to Hebrews 3 & 4, where He exhorts us to “enter his rest,” not cash out w/ unbelief like the Israelites. (I have been thinking my person will never change -unbelief! It’s my job to behave like my Master, and His supernatural job to do the heart change 🙂
    I’ve started asking my person each encounter: “Name three things you have to be thankful for?” (To end the constant negativity).
    And, “I’m not your source, but I know Who is. Would you like me to pray w/ you? (Redirecting her to the One who is and has all the answers, Jesus.)
    It is work, but it’s working.
    “Let us go boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy and will find grace to help when we need it most” (Heb 4:16 NLT).
    xoxo

  6. WOW – isn’t that the question??? did Jesus really mean 70 x 7??? i think HE uses these slights, acts, rude behavior to show us who HE can be for us in it; LET HIM fill in the places that are starving for justice because HE is just; believe the Gospel and love yourself deeply in it – just a thought – much easier said than done sweet sister!!!

  7. Always respond with love. I am very grateful for this post. I’m 22 and am going through something right now with a boy who I care for and I want to tell this person how he hurt me but instead I should just respond with love cause that’s really what he needs, especially to feel the love of Jesus. We all need love and its the greatest gift to receive and share. I really needed to hear this today. You ladies have blessed me in so many ways and I’m so grateful for these posts and your kind words. God bless you all abundantly. Xoxo

  8. Unless we get to the place of His rest, it’s hard to become the basket of flowers. I can write, blog and walk away to some silly problem and just go from be a blessing to being ready to scream. We all know the feeling! That’s why His perfect love has to perfect us.

  9. Kristen, I thank that Lord for His gracious and tender mercies in your words. Bev, Mo, and everyone I understand as I am in this place too. Its hard to keep going sometimes. The Lord knows the hearts of us all, what is so desperately needed; He asks us to follow Him and His example while relying on His grace and strength in our weakness. I pray and hope that the Holy Spirit is guiding these words, that they are a comfort. Jesus showed us how to set boundaries in the temple when He didn’t tolerate the behavior, but loved the people. He keeps showing me that I have to love them where they are, accept the relational limitations, be patient as He is with us, and do as He tells me even when rejected. Oh Bev and Mo, I pray the Lord leads you to all that He needs of you; my heart goes out to you. May He loving show each of us the way today, surrounding us in His peace and grace as we pour out His love 🙂

  10. Beautiful article and word pictures of flower baskets over-spilling their confines. Especially strong for me as I love flowers. Thanks for the reminder that we need to over-spill our edges and love those around us by passing on the generous love that God pours on us.

  11. Bev, forgiving doesn’t mean giving up on what’s right for you. I also was in a situation where I kept remembering that I must forgive the person, God’s word says 70X7, but when the transgressions are all the time without any attempt to change then something must happen to change the situation. Either you find it in your heart through God’s word and loving people and God’s guidance to remove yourself or God will remove the other person from the situation. If it is making you lose sight of yourself and who you are and making you feel miserable and not filled with God’s love, then it’s time to leave and move on. It is not an easy thing to do and it takes the help of loving friends and family but it will renew your spirit to the person God wants you to be.

    Kristen thank you for reminding me of Breckenridge’s hanging baskets. I grew up in Denver and loved going up in the mountains and was always amazed at how beautiful Breckenridge was with the hanging baskets, in the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains! I just couldn’t believe such beautiful flowers could grow like that, I can’t get flowers to grow like that in Pennsylvania! Thanks!

  12. I was raised in a Very Loving and God Fearing Home. My husband was not. So, as would be expected, he presents Daily challenges for me to endure. As one would imagine, I have Been a Very Angry and Frustrated Person for Many Years. As Time has taken its toll on me, I am trying to become more positive and turn to my roots of a Strong Faith in God. I am practicing Acceptance and Gratitude multiple times a day. Even though things have not changed for the better – only gotten worse, I am able to maintain a certain level of Peace in My Life as that is how God Deals with me thru His Love.

  13. My best friend has a condo in Breckenridge. Your illustration brought back so many good memories, Kristen. And the overflowing flower baskets, what a beautiful picture of God’s love overflowing through us. : )