“Drama does not just walk into our lives. Either we create it, invite it, or associate with it.” –Brandi L. Bates
I wish I could sit at a table with you over coffee and we could unpack this truth together. In a world that takes no responsibility for the drama we experience, making us feel like victims instead of victors, this all can be hard to swallow. The good news is we have more control than culture wants us to believe, and it starts with some simple steps to steer clear. We may have to cut some ties, set some boundaries, or reprioritize who we’re looking out for. For some of us, it’s overwhelming. That’s why, over these next few paragraphs, I want you to know that I’ve got your back. Let’s lock arms, plant our feet down on tried-and-true Scripture, and we’ll navigate this new roadmap to healthy relationships together.
It’s no newsflash that drama is exhausting. It literally zaps the life out of us to be caught up in the latest mess. Girl, you deserve better than to be constantly drained, fighting through tension and trying to track with the “he said, she said” game. Yes, God also calls us to love all people, show honor, and exhibit kindness. But He did not call you to be tossed and turned in the waves and be pulled under by unstable people. So, how does this whole thing work together?
I think Romans 12:9-10 says it beautifully and simply in the Message translation:
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply” – notice that it says good friends here. This speaks right to choosing your inner circle from those who exhibit true, honest, and biblical love.
Jim Rohn, a well-known motivation speaker, is known for the school of thought that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. When you consider who fits that description, what does that say about you? If you spend a great deal of time with a drama mama, or someone who is constantly pulled into the whirlwind of toxicity, social stress, or negativity, chances are you are either a mirror image or in danger of being one. I may not know you very well, but I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that those character traits are not something you want to proudly display on your Instagram bio. Jim isn’t the originator of this thought, either. It’s downright biblical, as 1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds us that “Bad company corrupts good character.”
So assess your circles. Who makes up your inner circle? Those are the 4-5 people that you really do life with. These are the friends who you confide in, cry with, work through life-altering decisions with, celebrate victories with, and share in the richness of an intimate relationship with. Writer Meg Meeker stated, “The hallmark of inner-circle of friendships are trust, maturity, and faithfulness, all of which work together to cultivate the deep love between us.” None of those qualities can survive in a hostile, drama-laced environment. We must learn to cling tighter to those who embody that description and move all others to one of our outer circles. That’s where creating healthy boundaries comes in.
You have people that you love, but their drama empties your emotional and social tanks, or maybe even rips you into the current of malicious intent. For the people who tear you down instead of build you up, especially if you are consistently burned in the mix, we have to create some boundaries. We can still honor people, be kind, and speak with love, but there are some people that you just cannot afford to give a foothold in your life to. Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” When we make the conscious decision to separate ourselves from the fire-starters, we won’t find ourselves repeatedly caught up in the flames.
What does an outer circle relationship look like? You may have moments to connect over a common interest, project, or purpose. These are acquaintances, colleagues, teammates, etc. It’s shallow but still genuine. These relationships are best when there is low levels of vulnerability and great levels of intentionality. You aren’t running to these friends with problems or asking their advice, but you can work for peace, unity, and exemplify Christ in every interaction. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29). A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1). Whether you are building them up or diffusing drama, you can be strategic in how you communicate with those in your outer circle. Boundary-setting does not mean that you write these people off, but you limit your closeness with them to rise above the drama.
In some extreme cases, your situation may require a friendship breakup. These are never easy, but sometimes very necessary. Definitely first pray about these, but if that’s what needs to happen, my girl Amy shares some great advice in her blog post “3 Ways to Survive a Friend Breakup”.
To bring it full circle, I want to share a little perspective on where drama gets its roots. In some way shape or form, drama mamas operate out of a lack of inner security. We should pray for them and have a heart of compassion for where they are hurting. When people don’t know Christ, who they are in Him, and how to build others up in love rather than tear them down, it breeds an unstable way of life where drama thrives. That being said, when we take a look at David’s words in Psalm 119:113-115, though they sound harsh, we can still see how it applies:
I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
Disclaimer: this is not permission to smack a label of “I hate you” across the relationships that bring drama into our lives. This verse just shows us how we can redirect our attachment from them to the Word of God where we find protection, refuge, and security. David simply declares boundaries that create space between himself and those creating chaos and prioritizes His relationship with God first. The best litmus test for any of our relationships is this: Is my relationship with that person bringing me closer to God or separating me from Him? Our inner circle should help us draw closer, while those who pull us away need to be moved to our outer circles. When we step back to observe those in our circles, take back the reigns, and control what we allow to influence our heart, we can experience life and relationships anchored in peace, joy, and stability. That is God’s design for friendship! And sweet friend, as you begin to steer clear of drama mamas and build upon trustworthy inner circle friendships, I pray you experience the fullness that healthy relationships have to offer.