My husband owns an auto repair business, and frequently, salesmen come in to try to persuade him to buy their wares, or their services. Some try selling him pens with the company logo on them, or calendars, or advertising in a coupon book. Then there are the people who want him to pay them $$$ each month to get his website at the top of the Google rankings.
We were discussing that this morning, and I brought up the metaphor of parasites who want to attach themselves to us and suck little bits of our lifeblood. I derived the term “parasites” from the movie, “Fireproof” in which parasites are mentioned as those things that make their way into our marriages and slowly and insidiously get between us and our spouses, and begin to suck the lifeblood out of our relationships.
As my husband and I talked, we began to mention other kinds of parasites in our lives, such as financial parasites and relational parasites. For example, I used to pay $100 a year to one of the big credit card companies to be a member of their “rewards” plan. So, for every dollar I charged on the credit card, I would get a “point” toward rewards. However, that “point” was actually worth about one cent, literally. So, to earn a $100 ticket on an airline, I would have to charge $10,000 on the card. Depending on how much of your spending you put on a credit card, that could take 3-4 years to earn a ticket to go visit my best friend. But here’s the kicker: at $100 per year to pay for the rewards program (not to mention the $55 annual fee just to have the card), I was paying more to be on the program that I would have paid just to get the ticket!
Yep, that took me several years to figure out. Why? Because parasites suck small bits of blood, not large ones, so you don’t always notice. You can bet I got out of that rewards program, and I’m about to cancel the credit card.
Several years ago, I also joined a gym. It only took me a couple of months to realize I hated working out in gyms, but I kept the membership just in case I might want to go back. And month after month, the gym sucked about $39 out of my checking account, whether I showed up or not. I finally called and canceled that. Another parasite, sucking away at my finances.
And how about relational parasites? Do you have anyone in your life who sucks the lifeblood out of you, little by little? Is there someone or something who is coming between you and your spouse? I’m not talking about an affair, necessarily. I’m talking about something more subtle. Is your mother or mother-in-law trying to make you feel guilty for not being with her every weekend, even though you barely have enough time to spend with your family? Is a friend trying to get you to hit the bar once a week when you should be home with your spouse and family? Is a grown child coming to you on a regular basis with her hand out because she doesn’t want to take responsibility for her life and get an appropriate job to support herself?
Here’s a classic parasite: FACEBOOK. Seriously, aside from TV, there has never been a bigger time-waster than Facebook. And until this generation wakes up, we are going to give the valuable hours and days of our lives away to Facebook, because we didn’t take control and expunge that huge parasite. And we will look back, when we are on our deathbeds and wonder, what happened to my life? Where did it all go? To Facebook, oh misguided one.
God does not want us to have parasites in our lives, and we need to identify them and get rid of them. We need to ask Him to show them to us, because sometimes they aren’t so obvious. God gives us resources such as time, money and talents and He expects us to use them and gain increase for His glory. If we are allowing parasites to attach themselves to these things, we can expect to have these resources weakened and depleted as the lifeblood is sucked out.
The same will happen with relational parasites. Ask God to show you the people in your life who have attached themselves to you in an unhealthy way, and are slowly sucking away at the lifeblood of other relationships that have more priority. If your mother keeps trying to throw a guilt trip on you, establish boundaries with her. Of course you need to visit her, but perhaps you can visit her every other weekend, and make it an hour to two-hour visit, not half the day. If you have friends who are encouraging you to go to the bar, make an honest assessment: is this where God would want you to be? Is it making your spouse feel a little resentful? Is it causing you to drink more than you would otherwise?
Get rid of the parasites in your life. If you’re going to give your lifeblood away, make sure it’s to something that counts for God’s kingdom.