Sometimes You Have to Subtract to Add

In arithmetic, subtraction is the opposite of addition, but in relationships before the right people can be added, the wrong people have to be subtracted. The wrong people always hinder the right people from coming and staying in your life. This is true in both friendships and marriage.


You might be at a place in your life where you could use some positive input and encouragement that the people around you can’t provide. In fact, if you look around at the people closest to you and all you see are people who talk about their problems or gossip about other people, you’re trapped in smallness with the wrong people. You’re surrounded by people who are going nowhere and complaining in the process. But that’s not what God wants for you. He wants you to rise up out of that. He wants you to be confident and know in your heart that there’s something better out there for you.

You can’t expect Positive Paul to come hang out with your friend Negative Ned. Oil and water don’t mix. But you can make a decision to not stay where you are surrounded by people who only pull you down or hold you back. People who drain emotional and mental energy from you and give little back in the relationship. People who take up your time and never personally change. People who use up the time you could be investing in changing and growing healthy relationships with others.

Don’t assume that God wants you to open your life to everyone. No, He wants you to:

        • Be cautious in friendship (see Proverbs 12:26)
        • Avoid being friends with fools (see Proverbs 13:20) and hot-tempered people (see Proverbs 22:24)
        • Do as much life as possible with people who sharpen and make you better and wiser (see Proverbs 27:17; 13;20)

The amazing thing is that when you relationally reposition yourself, free up the inner circle of your life, and start to be the person you long to be and God created you to be, the people you belong with will be drawn in to your life. They will come! Faith-filled people, encouraging people, people who live with hope and confidence will be added to your life.


It’s pretty common for single people to say, “I’m looking for my other half.” Sometimes it’s just lighthearted semantics that express a desire to find the right person. Other times it’s a perception that a person has about themselves that they are never going to be happy unless someone makes them happy. They assume that their mood swings will be gone. Their fluctuating attitude will be stable. Their battle with low self-esteem will not be an issue when someone has fallen in love with them and is living life with them. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, in arithmetic one half plus one half equals one whole. But in a relationship, one half plus one half equals two different one halves. If you’re not whole going into marriage (or a friendship), you won’t be whole because of your marriage (or friendship). If you don’t overcome bad moods when you’re single, marriage won’t remedy your moodiness. 

Based on how the two of you are coming together, these things are true:

      • Two immature people coming together doesn’t make for a mature relationship
      • Two insecure people coming together doesn’t make for a secure relationship
      • Two unhealthy people coming together doesn’t make for a healthy relationship

But the opposite is true as well:

      • Two mature people will have a mature relationship
      • Two secure people will have a secure relationship
      • Two healthy people will have a healthy relationship

Whatever you are before you are married (or enter into a friendship) is what you bring into the relationship. The best thing you can offer another person is a healthy you, a whole you. Being healthy, staying whole, being our best, taking care of ourselves physically, spiritually, and emotionally is the best gift we can give the people we are relating to. Because in any relationship (marriage, friendship, team members) two whole people equals one amazingly healthy relationship.