“They’re gonna be late!” Chad called from outside. We were still barbequing in October this year. I figured if it’s eighty degrees outside we’ll just treat everything like summer, including our dinner menu: Tri-tip, green beans and fresh bread.

I walked outside to hear more.

He looked at his phone and saw a message telling him our dinner guests had locked their keys in the house on their way out the door to see us. “I’ll just keep the meat warm when it’s done cooking,” he said. “I was running behind anyway.”

In the busy schedules of our families, our friends, who live more than an hour away, were making the trek out here on a school night with their four boys, including a baby, just to see us. This was the only night that worked in any of our schedules.

When they walked in the door a bit later, Susie and I hugged and we thanked them for driving so far to see us. The last time we’d met we had chosen a dinner spot in the middle, so this time it was a labor of love and time for one of our families.

“Oh we love to do it,” Susie said after I thanked her for driving so far. “You are some of our life-giving friends.”

I agreed that they were the same to us and together we put the finishing touches on an autumnal-summer meal. We gathered the children and ate outside as dusk overtook our yard.

Life-giving.

Refreshing.

Restorative.

As people we can either give life to one another or we can take it. I believe that God created us with that kind of power. We can speak goodness and truth to others or we can speak competition and jealousy. We can act with love and good-nature or we can act with fear and bitterness. We can give one another life or we can take it.

Even with the people we call our “friends” I believe that we can either be givers of life or takers.

Life giving people show grace and forgiveness and they love one another. They are grateful for the relationships they have in this season of life. Life giving people feel like family even though last names aren’t shared.

Life taking people, however, demand and desire and let hurt and anger fuel their actions. Life taking people let the desire to be the best or the first affect their friendships and they don’t own up to the things they’ve done to hurt others. Being around them feels like a lot of work.

What Susie said made me think about my other friendships. Am I a life-giver or a life-taker with others? What pushes me from the ability to help restore and refresh others to being a person who takes life away?

I know I’ve been a “taker” before and I hate that I have.

We sat outside long after we should have, past the girls’ bedtimes on a Sunday night and let the dishes from ten people pile up in the sink. We laughed and watched the children laugh inside the house as they played games and we were thankful, so very thankful, for friends who help to restore and refresh us.

Do you have life-giving people around you? Have you ever been around people who are life-takers? Have you told your friends they help to give you life?

 

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  1. 1
    Leilani says:

    First off, I wanted to say that I only recently discovered this glorious blog a few days ago, and this is my first comment.

    Secondly, this post truly resonated with me. I was just having this conversation with my husband today. We may not have used the words “life-takers”, but that is exactly what we meant and who we were referring to. Being around some people just takes so much work and effort. A mere conversation can leave you feeling mentally and emotionally drained. Yet, there are others who you can simply enjoy life with. Where the air is light and hearts are filled with love, joy and laughter.

    I know I can be, and have been, a life-taker at times, but now I’m going to make a conscious effort to try and remain a life-giving person at any given moment.

    • 2

      thank you leilani! i love your perspective! =)

    • 3

      In our family, we refer to life-takers as “hard case friends.” I know everyone has periods in their lives when trouble makes them needy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the hard case friends aren’t those people — they are folks who will never be content, grateful, or able no matter how much support they are given. I tell myself this is where not growing weary in well-doing applies, but, oh, the lift it is to have some time with life-givers to balance things out sometimes!

  2. 4

    Thank you for this post I can relate to what you talk about people being either life givers or life takers. I am fortunate and I have someone who is a life giver to me and we don’t have the same last name :-) but at the same time I have recently been wrestling with a person who is a life taker-a difficult person to be around and who zaps the strength right out of you. I try to be a life giver but I worry at times that I am a life taker especially if I share my life experience or present struggles with that past experience. However I hope by being aware of that it helps me to be more of a life giver. A lovely post, thank you.

    • 5

      I think that there are times in our life when we need to draw the “life” from others; that is the body of Christ.

      thank you for commenting! =) i appreciate your ideas and your sensitivity. =)

  3. 6

    how do you think that christ would want us to behave with life takers?
    do we want to be comfortable all the time or do we want to make a difference in the life of a so called life taker?
    is there a reason they are a life taker that we can help them with and influence them so that those “life takers” can enjoy our freedom too?
    or is our goal to just be around life givers all the time so that we are comfortable?
    i think jesus was around alot more life takers than life givers. don’t you.

    • 7

      i agree janet. and i have many people in my life that fall under this.

      the point of this post was that we should be those givers of life to one another and not be takers of life. the post was not a statement on who we should hang out with or not hang out with. I hope you understand my heart on this.

      • 8

        I struggle with this too, Janet.. I have a friend who I KNOW needs me to be loving, accepting, THERE for her, but oh is she hard work. After 11 years of friendship, she still doesn’t trust me, and it’s wearing me down. I feel I’m constantly being asked to prove myself to her, and recently told her that I didn’t need to do that anymore, after 11 years I think I’ve proved myself, that I do care. So.. I hear you.. I know Jesus would keep on loving and forgiving (because she can also be quite hurtful at times). But it isn’t easy. The world would say dump her, and I have wanted to, but something keeps me hangin in there. I think it’s Him. But I can’t do it in my own strength anymore, and it’s important to talk about this and acknowledge that we as humans have our limits with those ‘difficult people’ in our lives, and think about how we treat others too.

        • 9
          maltvarm says:

          i have recently cut myself off from a lifetaker. it was the hardest thing to do, as i was upfront about it with them. there was just nothing i could do at this point in our relationship, and it was best for both of us to have some space. i have no hard feelings, and i did not leave on a note of hurt or anger or bitterness. i pray it was a mutually mellow departure for both of us, but honestly, i don’t have the confidence that it was. my break was finally something out of her control, and she has respected it, praise the Lord.
          i’m praying it is only but a season in our relationship….cutting ties with these life takers doesn’t have to be the end of friendship.

  4. 10

    I think that sometimes you are at different stages in life. Sometimes you are life givers and sometimes you are lifetakers.

    The mark of a deep friendship, a God-blessed/given relationship, is when it doesn’t matter if you are a life giver or taker at that moment because soon you will be the other.

    And you have the safety to be both.

    • 11

      i agree with what you said about deep friendships. The point of the post, however, is that regardless of my lifestage I want to try to always be a giver of life. I absolutely hear you, Gianna. I’ve been a life-taker all too many times. And sometimes it’s a result of pure and utter need (there really is no other option) and sometimes it has been as a result of selfishness. I hope you hear my heart in this. Thank you for commenting.

    • 12

      ooohhhh i like your statements. thank you…

    • 13

      ooh i like your statements. thank you

    • 14
      maltvarm says:

      yes….totally. i love this too. however, there are friendships out there where it isn’t the case. where you are not able to be both, and there is nothing wrong with breaking ties with those relationships. i praise God for having a relationship like this in my life though.

  5. 15

    Beautiful!

    My prayer is to always be a life-giver.

  6. 17

    Maybe there’s a third category? Life-receivers? It’s been my experience that in giving we receive and in receiving we give. Love the thoughts this post provoked!

  7. 20

    I was thinking similarly to Mimi…sometimes we are life-receivers — when there’s need not selfish motives…Sometimes we need to learn how to receive the good God has for us, even when it’s through others. (But, man, the life-takers, sure can zap it — and I don’t want to be like that for those around me.)

    Even as life-givers, we should always be receiving LIFE from the SOURCE or else what we’re giving/passing along is a cheap imitation.

    That said, I hope I am always a life-giver (or passer-alonger)!!

  8. 22

    I know what you mean. For me, some of the least life-giving/most life-taking interactions are with people who share my same weaknesses (not like “chocolate” weaknesses, like “gossip,” “pride,” “insecurity” weaknesses). It is almost toxic being around them sometimes because I just come away weary from having to constantly keep my own guard up from saying something I shouldn’t, while at the same time try to be conversational and meet them where they are at. It’s exhausting.

  9. 24

    First of all, I have to say how much I love this blog and all it’s posts. I eat up the words that my hungry soul desires and wait for the next post to come. :)

    I really loved this paticular post…for many years I have talked to my children about how we each have a choice of being givers or takers in this life…that we have the power to bring someone up or down by our words or actions. I think it is so important that we make sure we have life givers in our lives because they will help give us strength and build us up for our journey. There will be times our journey may take us down to the valleys and we will have to lean on those lifegivers to get us through.

    I also think it’s important to have life takers in our life too….to be that strength for them to lean on when they are in the valley of life. The life takers are a good reminder to how we need to keep up our self care and they can be lessons that we need in our lives. I do think it’s important to have a healthy balance…toxic people can drain us and negativity is catchy…we also need to keep in mind that some takers don’t ever want to stop being takers and we may have to step back from them out of necessity of our own well being. When ever I start to take on their stinkin thinkin it is a sign that I am not getting enough tme with life givers and might need to reevaluate the relationship.

    Anyways, thank you for this post!

  10. 28

    “Life giving people feel like family even though last names aren’t shared.” ~ THIS sums up much I’ve thought about but haven’t put into words. People who build us up and help us bloom are family through and through.

    Love this post *and* your gorgeous heart, Sarah. So thankful for you!

  11. 30

    Thank you for this today. I want to be a life-giving friend too. I think we’re all guilty of being takers sometimes, but once we’ve learned that lesson, God can change us. Receiving is important too – because we all face difficult times of need, and as the Body, we can be there for one another. I’m thankful for the Life-givers God’s placed in my life. He’s so very good to me, even when I don’t deserve a second glance. I’m so very THANKFUL.

  12. 32

    i love alol the comments, but could you write an article on being around life takers. like how to determine if you are avoiding them because you want to be comfortable
    or shunning them because its too much work. or can you help me by maybe giving me some examples of people in difficult situations and how to respond to them, besides i will pray for you. what would some real life actions be like, besides protecting yourself so you don’t have to deal with it. can you maybe write an aritcle like that. it is easier to be a life giver to another life giver than to be a loyal life give to a life taker. i would so appreciate that…. it just seems that jesus did so much for me a life taker (he died for me)… that i want to do that for someone else too. even if it is at my expense.. how can i be a life giver to someone who needs quite a long time to learn so that i don’t give up on them because it is uncomfortable for me. any help with that. i need more help with that…

    how do you think that christ would want us to behave with life takers?
    do we want to be comfortable all the time or do we want to make a difference in the life of a so called life taker?
    is there a reason they are a life taker that we can help them with and influence them so that those “life takers” can enjoy our freedom too?
    or is our goal to just be around life givers all the time so that we are comfortable?
    i think jesus was around alot more life takers than life givers. don’t you.

    • 33

      yes i agree with you janet. but i think in Jesus’ case, he had different levels of “hanging out” with people. Most of his ministry was with the multitudes, with needy people, with people who were hurting and needed what he could give them. But we notice a few things about him. often he was found by with just his disciples, and then even one level further, sometimes we see him just with a few disciples. I believe that they were “life-giving” to him and those were his “family”. I think it is the same with us. I have people in my life that need the hope that i have. sometimes, to be around them is a lot of work. But then I have my family or my very very small group of close friends. And it isn’t work to be with them. They give life to me. I think our lives should be a bit of both, like Jesus, but every day I want to be the person who gives rather than steals from someone. As far as writing something that would address that, let me think about that a bit more. Maybe I will get something out on my own blog about that. Sound good?

  13. 34

    I love the idea of telling friends they are life givers. That is such a compliment. I’ve been around life-takers and I quickly cut them out. Maybe that is wrong because we are supposed to love everyone, but if they are going to suck me dry, I just can’t have that.

    • 35

      i think we definitely need to draw boundaries around our time and energy, but at the same time leave room for friends going through needy times or for people who need to be around community and the solidness of life-giving people. I totally understand exactly what you are mean. and yes, it is a big compliment when someone says you are life-giving. =)

  14. 36

    PERFECT TIMING! I needed to read this today. Thank you for allowing God to use you as vessel to speak to me. YOU ROCK!

  15. 38

    Amen!! This post is exactly what I have been feeling for some time now. SO good, SARAH! SO GOOD!

  16. 40
    emily joyner says:

    Loved reading this today! I pray that I am a Life Giver more than a Life Taker. I know that this will certainly make me realize what I do from now on!
    God Bless you

  17. 42

    I think there are different seasons to everyones life. We are coming out of a season where we were Life Takers. My son was diagnosed with leukemia in February and we learned quickly that we just needed to say “yes” when people offered help and support. I imagine that this was a time when we were doing more taking than giving. But I hope now that the Lord has blessed us with such a unique testimony we can use it to bring life and hope to many others. Paying it forward.

  18. 43

    I have very few life giving friends and I cherish them so much. I want to be more like them. I have a whole lot of life taking family members and some life taking friends. How to deal with that? Just be a life giver to them? I hate that I am even asking this question, but the honest truth is I’d like to just say bye-bye to the family because of the draining mindless negative energy they fuel. Thanks for your post, Sarah! Inspiring me to be more life giving:)

  19. 44

    LOVE this! So true and if we’re being a taker and it isn’t out of desperate need, it might be time to re-evaluate ourselves and make those changes and become aware. I know i’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. And sometimes, we do have to distance ourselves from the takers when we can no longer help or it starts to take over our lives and that’s okay too. I think we often don’t give ourselves to do that as believers and as women because we want to be that best friend, best Christian, and best giver. This is a great topic of discussion!!!

  20. 45

    Life-giving friends. Life-giving parents. Life-giving spouses. Life-giving leaders. Life-giving employees. Life-giving teachers. Life-giving neighbors.

    Life-giving servants.

    Thanks for the reminder to be spreaders of hope and love, listeners of others fears and dreamers.

    Thank you, In-courage. Thank you, Sarah.

  21. 46

    I’m totally up for this challenge – to be aware of when I’m taking life instead of giving it.

    Yet I’m also aware of the “takers” that I know, the people who drain me. I avoid them, but I wonder sometimes if those are the people God *means* for us to engage with and draw nearer to Him. What do you think?

  22. 47
    Beth Williams says:

    I have people, mostly those at church, that are the life-giving type. They are fun to be around and always lift my spirit no matter what is going on.

    I have family that is life-taking, oh I love her, but she can be hard to be around at times. Wants lots of attention–being middle child part of issue.

    I try to be a life giver every time, always laughing, smiling and having a good time. It is not always easy–but working on it.

    Loved the post!

  23. 48

    “Life-giving” is my new word and mantra these days!!! I often ask myself about friendships and activities and commitments–Is this life-giving to me, or is it/he/she taking something away?
    Loved your post. AGAIN!!!!

  24. 49

    Beautiful! Thank you for a lovely reminder that I also have life giving friends throughout the places we have lived. Although I am far away from them they are still giving, praying, loving and supporting I and my family. Nothing could be sweeter. I try to spend my time with them (through letters, emails and calls) letting them know that their presence has and continues to make a glorious difference. Only God would provide friends like this. I am thankful and deeply appreciative.

  25. 50
    Brooke Burger says:

    I want to be a life giving friend. I don’t have close friends, though. I am part of an online group through Proverbs 31 ministry that I love dearly because we can lift each other up, and I have met a few of the ladies personally. But, it has been a long time since I have had friends like you describe. I try, but sometimes I think that my family and I are just a little weird and not socially acceptable for some reason. Oh well, even the Bible says we are a peculiar people. I will keep trying.

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