Toxic Tuesday: It is Real You are Write
Be encouraged. You are real, what is happening to you is real and you need to write it down.
This life is full of different people with different personalities. No two are exactly alike which makes having multiple friends so much fun; most of the time, but can also make living with a family member difficult; sometimes. We need to believe the habits and personality of the other person; good, bad, ugly, funny, disgusting, wonderfully sweet or completely dysfunctional are here to stay. Live with it! Mostly. There is no perfection this side of heaven and if we are going to get bent out of shape over every little disagreement, idiosyncrasy, or sin we will soon find ourselves friendless or family less. Relationship broke, bankrupt, to the point we won’t be able to talk to the friend in the mirror because they sin too. What a lonely miserable existence.
Our goal should not be attempting to modify someone else’s behavior to fit our needs, our likes, or our preconceived judgments of them. Another mistake we can make is setting out to NOT be like her, or him, or that person or so-and-so. Doing this can leave us so caught up in comparisons we forget there is no worthy or beneficial comparison except for Jesus Christ. Have you spent years trying to NOT be like a certain person; a parent, a sibling, a child, your spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a relative? Has it worked? If you just realized this is exactly what you have been doing; feel the freedom of never having to do it again! Set your mind on Christ.
Philippians 2:5 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Philippians 4:7 (NIV) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 11:1-2 (NIV) A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (This verse is a prophesy of the promised Messiah—Jesus Christ.)
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
The only person that we have any power to change is us and this can prove difficult for most of us because if we are honest; we tend to be comfortable with who we are, how we behave and how we respond to others. This is why staying in God’s word—the scriptures and praying are essential to believers. We must allow God access to our heart, soul, mind and strength; inviting Him to show us how to think and act like His one and only son, Jesus Christ. You can be sure His heart and will is for you to be more like Jesus. God will not say, “No.” This will be a big, “Yes!”
Now that we have settled how to behave in healthy, normal, everyday relationships by keeping Jesus our focus; I will turn our attention to toxic relationships; where we also must keep Jesus our focus. If you are in a toxic relationship you can easily draw the line between normal and toxic. You know to what I am referring. This is where we insert a different standard: a biblical standard.
I blogged about the power in numbers and the importance of church community as a lead up to intervention for last week’s Toxic Tuesday. We find precedence throughout scripture for confrontation as a means to help, discipline, and show good will. God uses people to do this. He has used me to do this and believe me; I would much rather He sent an angel for the job. Instead of an angel God sent two helpers, a mentor and a friend, to lovingly show power and accountability in numbers.
The books of the prophets in the Old Testament give numerous examples of confrontation and discipline. My personal favorite is when Nathan rebukes King David. If you do not know the story of 2 Samuel 12 you need to read it. It is full of lust, deceit, impregnating another man’s wife, war, murder, betrayal (Chapter 16) and retribution that led to the death of King David’s son. America has nothing on God for He wrote the first Soap Opera, “All My Children” and the daytime drama should have to pay royalties to God for using the title. The Bible is anything but boring. The reason this rebuke is my favorite lies in King David’s reply, “I have sinned against the LORD.” He confessed, manned up, took the discipline and did not question the Lord. David knew his poor/sinful choices had consequences. He knew he did not want to remain the type of person he had become. How do I know this? Read Psalm 51. David wrote this when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
The Bible offers more examples of intervention. God used Jethro to advise Moses in Exodus 19. God provided Moses to lead the people of Israel which led to confrontation with the people of Israel in Exodus 32; and in Exodus 33 Moses intercedes to the Lord for Israel. God placed priests and teachers in the community to teach, guide, and provide discipline as a means to bring change to His people—not because God is holding out on us or wants us to have a boring life. No! It’s the exact opposite. He wants us to have life to the fullest; the safest, the best, the most purposeful with the most influence.
Christ left us a special gift; the church—our community of helpers.
Matthew 18:15-20 (MSG) “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
If you are safe in doing so, you can talk to your toxic person but chances are you have done this. Most likely you have done this multiple times. Seeking counseling; let me rephrase this, getting your toxic person to agree to counseling and actually following through with attendance can prove impossible in many cases. Most often they have no other point of reference other than themselves. Sincere empathy does not exist for them. This is where intervention comes in to the mix. You need not spend your life angry or frustrated as you nag, plead, or beg for understanding. I do not want you to sink to despair when boundaries are not respected and change does not come. Remember the important rule for dealing with toxic people/fools. Practice self-control over your words, reactions and emotions. Stay calm.
Is there anyone who knows about your difficult relationship? I have found the only thing worse than living in a lonely, one-sided toxic relationship is living it in secret. It took me years to reveal my toxic relationship to anyone. It was a mistake and I wish I had sought help earlier. Everything is worse when you are alone. You need a friend and/or a confidant; a listening ear—someone to pray for you. A family member will work if that is all you have; a parent, sibling or cousin. Just remember it will become emotionally heavier for them in a different way than it will for a friend. A licensed counselor is a terrific option. Your pastor or someone on staff at your church might be a safe starting place, but be aware that many churches have NO training in dealing with abusers, domestic violence, or personality disorders; and let’s face it…many abusers have personality disorders. Your pastor may know and recommend you to someone who has walked the same road as you. This would be a gift from God.
Pray about this. If you need to seek such a person please do so this week.
Last week I said would share an example this week of a time when I had to do an intervention; however, I am finding that I am as long winded when I blog as when I speak so I will continue this next Tuesday.
The intervention idea was presented to me as a way to bring a person to repentance, save a relationship, and provide emotional healing. It was the idea of a well-respected Christian leader. He and his wife were dear friends and mentors to me and to my toxic person. The advice came from him through a godly Christian doctor/psychologist. I was encouraged to write out my concerns (revolving around multiple sin and mental health issues), which I wrote in chronological order, along with my expectations, goals and my requirement that the person seek godly professional help; immediately. I should also add that I had a different Christian doctor blast me for writing such a letter. For me it was the best way to make a difficult situation real. If you are in relationship with a fool who would like you to believe YOU are the ONLY problem with the relationship; I know you understand needing it to be real. It is very healing to write it on paper or computer. It makes it real. It shows problems and patterns. Usually you forget, or minimize what you’ve been through because you often hear that you are ‘over reacting’, or that nothing you ‘think or say is real’. Writing it down shows IT IS real, it did happen, you aren’t over reacting.
If you are in an unsafe relationship consider drafting your letter in an email and sending it to yourself. You can create a second email address if necessary. There is no need to save it to your computer or keep it in a notebook. If you have concern about typing it on your own computer; you can make a trip to the public library and use its computer.
I continue to pray for you.