Sunday, January 5, 2020

Toxic Relationships

Over the past year or so, my attention has been drawn to many social media posts about toxic relationships.  Most of the posts I’ve seen are related to letting the toxic people go in their lives, cutting them off, or simply disregarding those people.  On one hand, I totally get the reasoning behind this because no one wants to continuously be hurt by someone.  For some reason, seeing these posts would always make me uncomfortable.  So, instead of just scrolling from post to post, I decided to really do some introspection regarding the subject. 

The first thought, and very uncomfortable might I add, that came to my mind is that I am, and I have been the toxic person in relationships.  I have been the one who has gone back on promises, not kept my word, been unforgiving, been untrusting, prideful, saying things intentionally to hurt others, and bent on being right regardless of the costs.  For a while, I have felt shame, guilt, and regret due to how I just described myself above. 

Let me say, that I am guilty of being an overthinker much of the time.  So, bear with me with this blog entry.  Recently, I’ve had a renewed hunger for God.  However, with that hunger came thoughts like the ones mentioned above that tried to keep me from spending as much time with Him as I should.  I was replaying many of the times where I’ve mistreated, lied to, distrusted, and flat out dismissed God due to my circumstances, state of mind, and own selfish desires.  As I pondered on these things, I began to realize that God does not hold any of those things against me.  He still longs for a relationship with me.  If we were all honest, we all have been the toxic one in our relationship with God.  However, no matter how many times we mess up, He is consistent with loving us and accepting us back into His arms.  I was reminded of Peter in the bible who betrayed Jesus three times.  The more I thought about it, he was one of the closest people to Jesus and he still messed up.  Betrayal is such a harsh word and action, yet Peter, who loved Jesus so dearly, still betrayed Jesus because of outward circumstances.  Though Peter committed this awful thing more than once, Jesus was right there loving Him and still allowed him to be a representative of the Kingdom of God.
This is such a great reminder for me because I completely despise getting hurt by others.  My habit is to shutdown or distance myself from those who hurt me whether it be intentional or unintentional.  I am reminded of a time some years back when I was so withdrawn, and honestly depressed, that I unintentionally hurt some of my closest friends.  I would give my word about something and not follow through, and I just was not there for some of the most important times for them in the manner I should have been.  Though the hurt was unintentional, I was still the toxic person. I’ve apologized and been forgiven, yet my toxicity resulted in the relationship never being the same. 

So, as you can see, I have been on the side of being a toxic person.  And truthfully, I have been on the side of not really forgiving others who have been toxic in my life.  It is ironic that we have the capability to sometimes quickly identify and dismiss toxic people in our lives, but we desire forgiveness and understanding when the toxic person is us.  At least, that is how I think about it.
As I’ve pondered on this subject, I understand that if I don’t work on my relationship with Christ, how can I expect to be a person free of toxicity in my relationships as a: wife, mother, sister, and friend.  At this point in my life, I am making the conscious decision to receive God’s forgiveness and grace.  Because of His grace and not in my own strength, I will become more connected to Him which will spill over into my earthly relationships. 

I am truly thankful that God didn’t dismiss or throw me away.  He has been patient and compassionate with every sin, mistake, and misstep that I’ve made.  I am overwhelmed with His love for me.  My thought process now is to really seek God on teaching me how to see EVERY PERSON through the eyes of Christ.  I plan to extend grace and pray for those who hurt me.  Please do not misperceive what I am saying, some relationships are completely unhealthy, and I do get that distance is necessary in some situations.  However, I will make the conscious effort to take a leap of faith in extending grace to perceived toxic people, because they may be the very people that God wants to use mightily.  I do not want to miss an opportunity to BE LOVE to someone that they might have an introduction with Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer that if you are reading this, you receive God’s unwavering and unfailing love for you.  I pray that we are ever in remembrance of the grace extended to us by Christ and that our hearts are molded and shaped by the Word and the very love of God.  I pray that this year, will be a year of new beginnings, great leaps of faith, and gracious blessings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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