Tag Archives: Toxic people

Toxic Tuesday: Signs of a Covert Narcissist

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Signs to help you recognize a covert narcissist:

  • Emptiness; seems to have something missing that you can’t quite put your finger on.
  • Stubborn, rarely apologizes unless they want something from you; in which case the apology is a lie. Remember they are professional liars.
  • Ability to make you feel guilty, even when something is not your fault. The saddest part of this is that you may believe you are guilty.
  • Entirely self-centered; they are the center of their own universe. Me, myself and I mentality.
  • Expert liars; charming, hypnotic, a master of manipulation. You may know 100% they are lying; yet if you sit an hour under their spell/lies you will believe them and wonder how you could have ever thought they were lying or how they did the bad deed.
  • Projecting their insecurities and defects onto you. Think of it as them talking to themselves in the mirror but bouncing the reflection/words onto you. This goes two ways. If you confront them about an issue they will mirror the issue back on you; it’s your fault-you’re the one who did it.
  • Sensitive to constructive criticism. Compliments can never be grand enough to satisfy their ego so you can imagine they cannot tolerate constructive criticism.
  • Inability to form intimate relationships. Here is the problem: They are grand actors so by the time you figure out they don’t love you and can’t bond with you; you are likely already married to them. If not; RUN and NEVER look back!
  • Inability to feel genuine remorse. The best you will receive is their justification for treating you the way they did; or their spin/explanation of what happened. “I’m sorry,” is not in their vocabulary unless followed by, “But I don’t know why it bothered, offended or hurt you.”  Lack of remorse also allows them to continue being an abuser.
  • Blaming others for their problems. After all, if someone didn’t interfere with their idea, time, space, money, or relational need they would not have had the problem.
  • Low emotional intelligence. This does not interfere with their ability to lie. It does however give you leverage in that you can keep a journal to track the lies and prove a pattern. This is for your sanity and to prove that you have grounds to leave the relationship.
  • Highly materialistic. They tend to desire connections with people of position, power, and/or money.
  • Extreme lack of empathy. They care for the rug, the chair, or the T.V. the same as they care for you because you are nothing more than an object. So don’t expect understanding or empathy. Does a rug need empathy? The chair is only pulled out from the kitchen table when needed for a seat. You exist to serve their need and there is no reciprocating.
  • Superficially charming. They may seem mentally disabled in the home, but put this person in front of a crowd and they will likely ooze charisma.
  • A victim mentality. Since they have no reference point beside themselves, they suffer from the stupid needs of others. Even if the covert is proved wrong or guilty they will NEVER admit to it. When caught the covert explains that even though they did it; it’s not who they are—no matter how bad the words, actions or crime. They may even cry but the tears aren’t about their remorse; the tears are because of what you are doing to them—the victim. (Remember the mirroring technique they regularly employ.)
  • Low self-esteem. They may project calm, patient, loving, giving, serving, loyal and kind so the truth doesn’t hinder the path of power and recognition they seek.

My next Toxic Tuesday post will discuss the differences between a covert and an overt narcissist.

Click this link for a 10 question quiz to see if you are likely a COVERT NARCISSIST

If you qualify I highly recommend you seek the help of a licensed, professional, Christian counselor.First ask them if they are capable of being tough, consistent, and in your face with the truth and practical application. Anything else will be a waste of your time and money. You need a therapist who will be concrete and to the point. They need to LEAD you, and not with gentleness and empathy. You desperately need to learn empathy skills and since your chance of recovery is 2%, or less, you need someone who will go beyond talk therapy.

You are responsible for your own life. You are also responsible for the way you treat others. Seek help and accept it. Learn to absorb and cherish a tough love approach and believe what you are being told. They are not lying to you; they are tying to save your relationships and possibly your soul. After all, most narcissists don’t need saved since they are perfect and do no wrong.

The Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

“And he said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” Luke 9:23

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

So dear covert narcissist, you are not perfect, you must deny yourself (which is next to impossible for you), you cannot save yourself, and Jesus is the only way to the Father.

I say this, not to mock you, but to utilize the tough love approach. Please open your eyes, mind, and heart. You need help.

Toxic Tuesday: Attack of the Toddler Trapped in an Adult Body

 

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Today’s post is for those of you who are in the middle of a toxic relationship with a bully who takes delight in wielding power over you, treating you like you are a child in need of correction, using harsh tones and statements, attempting to force you to their standards (not God’s), making false statements against you to your face or harassing you any chance they can find. They cannot stop; like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. It is who they are and not just what they do.

Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)

 Like a city whose walls are broken through
    is a person who lacks self-control.

Today I want to focus on how you can avoid being caught up in the heat of the moment.

Many times I have lost control over an injustice, conflict or ill spoken word by yelling, over reacting, using sarcasm or saying something I immediately regretted. When I do this I am giving the other person power over me; not as in, I lose my self-power but that I lose my self-control; therefore, losing my focus on God’s power, help and intervention in my life.

Often the toxic person’s goal is to throw you off track, keep you off-centered, confuse, upset or belittle you. Do not allow this!

Do not think of your conflict as you against them.

 Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The best way for me to focus is to stay calm and remember scriptures. Sometimes I say and pray scriptures out loud, other times I say them silently. (Depending on the situation and not as an attempt to control the other person.)

I ask God how he wants to love this person through me; if He wants to use me to help the hurting or out of control person He, God, has placed in my life.

I remember:

  • We are both made from dust (Psalm 103:14)
  • We are both under the same condemnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23)
  • We both are recipients of the same love (John 3:16)
  • The same sacrifice was offered for both of us (I John2:1-2)
  • The good news of the gospel if offered to both of us (Mt. 28:18-20)
  • God has purpose for both of our lives (Colossians 2:2-3)
  • The same terms are offered for both of us (Acts 2:38)
  • We will both face judgment (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10)

I choose self-control. I choose to think logically. Sometimes I cannot not do this on command but find I have to step back and think about it. This is acceptable and can be beneficial for you and for the other person. Say, “I need to think about what you just said, or did, and I’ll get back to you.” If they are pressing you for an answer say, “I need to think about it. I’ll let you know.” If they are insisting you agree with them or see the situation their way, yet you know it is not a black and white issue (one way is right and one way is wrong) but rather has many options or ways of being solved simply say, “That is your opinion.”  If they continue to bring up a subject for which you agreed to disagree say, “I am not discussing this with you.” You are not being rude or un-Christ like. You are setting a boundary and how they react to your boundary is not your responsibility as long as you do it in a spirit of love. If they make accusations against you say, “I do not receive those words.”

If you are dealing with a toxic person, a fool of biblical proportions, or a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder then you especially need to stay calm. These personalities feed off your emotions. They NEED you to react to them. They often will try to feed off positive emotions but if your positive emotions do not feed their ego enough, they will turn to plying negative emotions out of you. DO NOT REACT. Respond calmly.

 

I Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Your toxic person may be begging you to lose control but remember you are a princess, the daughter of the Most High King. Your Heavenly Father sees what you are enduring. Run to Him, take His hand, and tell Him your hurts, frustrations, fears and needs. In your weakness I pray you find rest in His strength; in His grace.

I hope and pray you have a dear friend who can listen and minister to your hurting heart. If not, pray about that too, asking God to provide someone who can mourn with you, learn with you, laugh with you and pray with you.

I am grateful God has placed wonderful friends in my life through the years. They are keepers for sure. I can only hope to bless them back as much as they have blessed me.

This is a scripture one of my dear friends prayed over me when I was going through a time of attack. Pray it out loud over your own life. Draw strength from God’s word and invite His power to save you and heal you. His word is always timely, applicable, healing and powerful; it’s who He is!

Psalm 35 (NIV)

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor;
    arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin[a]
    against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
    “I am your salvation.”

May those who seek my life
    be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
    be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
    with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

Since they hid their net for me without cause
    and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise—
    may the net they hid entangle them,
    may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
    and delight in his salvation.
10 My whole being will exclaim,
    “Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

11 Ruthless witnesses come forward;
    they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good
    and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
    and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14     I went about mourning
    as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
    as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
    assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
    They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;[b]
    they gnashed their teeth at me.

17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
    Rescue me from their ravages,
    my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
    among the throngs I will praise you.
19 Do not let those gloat over me
    who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
    maliciously wink the eye.
20 They do not speak peaceably,
    but devise false accusations
    against those who live quietly in the land.
21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha!
    With our own eyes we have seen it.”

22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
    Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defense!
    Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
    do not let them gloat over me.
25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
    or say, “We have swallowed him up.”

26 May all who gloat over my distress
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
    be clothed with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who delight in my vindication
    shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
    who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
    your praises all day long.

May this help you thrive through your next attack of the toddler trapped in an adult body. Better yet, I hope there are no more attacks!

Toxic Tuesday: DEAD END

toxic-people-warning-keep-calm

In past posts I shared my insight and experience regarding being in a toxic relationship. My heart truly did not want to revisit the toxic experience but the Lord had firmly prompted me to share, as minimally as possible, of circumstances I had prayed through, lived through and grown through.

The experience was long, difficult—more like impossible, heart-breaking, life-changing, traumatic and it left permanent scars along with multiple wrinkles. Life is hard and sometimes it shows.

For many years, while in this relationship, I did not know what to do so I continued doing what I knew to do; believe, support, love, nurture, cover for and forgive but the time came when I realized I could not keep doing life the same way and expect better relational results.

I kept placing my hope in God and I kept trying over and over again. I felt it was possible to beat the odds, to help bring the person to repentance, restore the relationship and provide emotional healing.  I prayed, I fasted, I sought counsel and I loved when I did not feel like loving. Most importantly I continued to pray scripture out loud over the situation. I was alone before God with nowhere to go and as I prostrated myself before Him with tears flooding my face, floor and open Bible He met me there. Just the two of us and God loved me with all His heart, great emotion that I could feel, and I was immensely thankful He never tired of the enormity and intensity of my need. I was constantly overcome by His love and speechless at His holiness.

Psalm 18:35 “Your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.”

For this relationship multiple doctors, tests and results; specialists, multiple counselors, mentors, friends, church family, intervention and relational separation were employed but nothing worked.

The enemy wanted to render me powerless through fear of the unknown, fear of making a wrong decision, fear that God would allow me to suffer in my misery if I did make the wrong decision, fear that all the problems were actually my fault, and fear of losing my dignity.

I asked Jesus to remove the fear, to forgive me for fearing and I asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me and make known the will of my Heavenly Father. I reminded God of my state: Made from dust.

“For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14

I confessed that I was totally capable of missing the boat on any given situation and this was not a time to error and have to live with the consequences of a poor decision. I wanted to look back and know I had done everything possible to save this relationship; no regrets of stopping short of victory. I wanted to know that I was living by faith; the evidence of the unseen and the hope that a beneficial alternative existed. Logic and society said to run as fast and far away from this person as possible but faith…

I wanted to plug my name in at the end of Hebrews 11; by faith, Carolyn…

Every time I came to a road block, while attempting to help this person, I looked for a detour and took it. The possible outcome of this circumstance defied my spiritual convictions, resolve and long-term goals. I was confident erring on the side of faith would turn out better than erring on the side of easy. I knew God had made provision for me to leave this relationship but I wanted to find healing for this person for multiple reasons.

Eventually I realized the Holy Spirit was in me to guide me and empower me; not to help me fulfill my goals. And despite getting myself into this mess, by not following God’s word and not praying before entering this relationship, God was ever gracious to provide the Holy Spirit’s gentle leading and Jesus’ faithful intercession for deliverance.

In this case obeying God was the hardest thing I had ever done.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

In the end I found moving a mountain was nothing compared to motivating a selfish, toxic, destructive heart to desire healing and restoration.

People have free choice and no amount of intercessory prayer for a loved one can change their free will.

Our human love does not conquer all.

There was no middle ground on which to meet a fool.

Psalm 92:6 Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand,

 Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 Proverbs 10:14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

 Proverbs 13:19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

 I was blind to the betrayals taking place on multiple levels in many directions.

In the end I deserted the detours and took the route God had shown me multiple times; a one way street to a dead end. It was over.

Over did not mean easier. It was not easy! A terrible situation became worse, more difficult, more unsafe but I knew God had led me here and would, in His time, bring healing, safety and closure.

I have since asked Jesus to come and perform a healing; taking every broken place, cleaning it, inspecting it , and writing His name on every piece of me. It has been a process and just when I think all the places are healed Jesus finds another closed up room in my heart, shows it to me and I invite Him to clean and heal it too. He does. Every—single—time!

The foolish toxic person I refer to is presently sitting in jail awaiting a trial for which they continue to request delays. The reality of spending the next fifty years in prison without the possibility of parole exists. A conviction means they will die in prison before parole is achievable.

For the above reason I keep details to a minimum and wait.

During the wait God has brought eagles to my attention more times than I can remember to count. I have seen Bald Eagles while driving on the highways and interstates, driving around the suburbs of St. Louis, taking walks and standing in my yard. I have even heard their screams while sitting in my house during early and mid-morning weekdays. A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning ,while eating breakfast before leaving for church, I heard an eagle scream and walked outside to find two young eagles had landed and perched in our front trees.

Every time I see an eagle a scripture speaks to my heart, soul, mind and strength.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 How cool is that?

There have been multiple times I have written details I was uncertain of revealing so I inquired of God and guess what He did?

He showed me another eagle within hours, sometimes within minutes, of praying.

Since I do not believe there are coincidences with God; I’ll wait!

If you’ll step inside this great glass elevator
It’ll take us up above the city lights
To where the planet curves away to the equator
I want to show you something fine

You can see the roads that we all traveled just to get here
A million minuscule decisions in a line
Why they brought us to this moment isn’t clear
But that’s all right, we’ve got all night

Could it be that the many roads
You took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story
And for you to hear this song
And your many hopes
And your many fears
Were meant to bring you here all along

So if you’ll trust me with your time I’ll spend it wisely
I will sing to you with all I have to give
If you traveled all this way, then I will do my best to play
My biggest hits (that don’t exist)

And if you’ll lend to me your ear I’ll sing ’em pretty
I will never, ever sing ’em out of tune
And I will not forget the words,
of any chorus, bridge, or verse
I promise you

CHORUS

We’ve got Benjamin to play the grand piano
If we’re lucky it’s a little out of tune
We’ve got Andy on the guitar ’cause I promised him
Some Texas barbecue

How I love to watch you listen to the music
‘Cause you sing to me a music of your own
As I cast out all these lines, so afraid that I will find
I am alone, all alone

Could it be that the many roads
I took to get here
Were just for you to tell that story
And for me to hear that song
And my many hopes
And my many fears
Were meant to bring me here all along
We were meant to be right here all along

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Do Not Underestimate the Power in Numbers

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Community: You need it.

Hopefully you have a church home you pour your life into and of which you enjoy the benefits of learning, praising, praying, serving, friendship, encouragement and help when needed.

Hebrews 10:22-25 The Message (MSG) “So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”

I am not going to use this time and space to argue why some people do or do not go to church. I will simply remind you there is no perfection on this side of heaven. If you are looking for the perfect church practicing perfect theology, full of perfect people with a perfect pastor you will never find it. You can however find a healthy church that will help you grow closer to God in heart, soul, mind and strength while encouraging you to love and serve others. It is about daily relationship with God and His one and only son, Jesus.

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

If you are living, working or interacting with a toxic person, having a safe place (church family) is critical to your well being. Having a daily relationship with God through prayer and Bible study is essential to you emotionally and spiritually. Do you merely want to survive or do you want to thrive? I thought so! Thrive baby! You need God, you need friends and you need the church.

When God wants to work in your difficult relationship or circumstance He will most likely do it through the community around you; the church and/or godly friends and perhaps even a godly counselor.

Next week I will discuss using your community for intervention in a difficult relationship. There are several biblical examples from which to draw practical application. I will share an example of a time when I had to do just that. My desired outcome for the person, and I believe God’s desire, was repentance, obedience to God because His ways are best and full of blessing, and a restored right relationship to friends and family.

In the meantime; guard your testimony, pray up, and practice self-control through kindness and love when responding to a toxic person. (Read past Toxic Tuesday posts for more help on interacting with toxic people.)

I am praying for you.

A Gone Wrong Relationship: To Do or Not To Do

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Please understand I am simply passing on lessons I learned and they are examples of experiences I rarely understood the first time. Sometimes I process slowly. I do not like to disappoint people or offend anyone so this attributed to failure of setting healthy boundaries; however, I had motivation, determination and resolve to seek the Lord.

God never leaves me behind in my messiness or failings when I cry out to Him; acknowledge Him, admit my mistakes and ask Him for help.

Below are a few ramblings of what being a peacemaker or negotiator/problem solver does and does not mean.

It does not necessitate keeping a person you find difficult happy so their bad attitude is not found out by others; or so it does not spill out on someone else. You are not responsible for their attitude; positive or negative.

Do not make excuses for them; this includes excuses to your children or your extended family. You do not need to draw attention to the poor behavior but you do not try to explain in away either. It is what it is. As many psychologists have recommended: “Do not sit in your living room staring at a big pink elephant while pretending it isn’t there.” Nor do you want your children to learn by example and believe the dysfunctional attitude is pleasing to God or worthy of replicating. In healthy relationships with normal disagreements or arguments you always shield the children. This can prove impossible in a toxic relationship.

Do not cover for their irresponsibility; emotionally, relationally or financially. Allow them to face the consequences of poor planning, deceit or overspending.

For the lonely of heart who feel abandoned, frightened or craving intimacy while in a marriage covenant; you must spend time reading the Bible and praying it back to God conversationally. Only God can apply a healing balm to your heart and mind.

In normal marriages you never talk about marital problems to friends or family but in a toxic relationship you may need one confidant or a close-knit network to pray for you, encourage you and care for you. Pray about this and ask God if He has such a person, or persons, for you. Do not compromise your values and belief system in who you seek for friends. You do not need to add any other difficult dimension to your life. You need godly friendships with people of the same sex. Finding friendship in the opposite sex is a recipe for rumors, temptation and additional problems.

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” Psalm 37:3(AMP) “We live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (KJV)

Most importantly: Love. This is a tall order for someone in a one-sided love relationship. You want what you cannot have because the other person does not allow access. This may be due to unresolved past emotional wounds, infidelity, addiction to pornography or other reasons. If you were recruited (see earlier posts about Narcissistic Personality Disorder) into this relationship you now realize the bond was based on a ‘Once Upon a Time’ false reality. Whatever the reason; your heart must feel like it cannot endure much more. Love may be a feeling so far removed you can’t remember when it stopped being a feeling. That is okay. Love is not meant to always be a feeling, in fact, it is more often an action.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9 (NIV)

Love them for Christ; here and now with what you have and what you have not. This kind of love is called, agape, and part of agape is action. Agape is the type of love revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity; not sexual in its nature. To agape means agreeing with God about the person you find difficult. God loves that person so you sacrifice your self-will for God’s will. Love. God called us to agape our enemies, Luke 6:27 so you can be sure He has called you to love the person you find difficult. Since God is love, it is His very essence; we can be certain He wants us to love.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus,’“is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:28-31(NIV)

A few examples of practical application:

When treated with contempt, hatred, anger or deceit; you may state, “I will not allow myself to be treated this way” with firmness but not anger.

When you are being told how you should think about a subject; don’t argue. Simply state, “That is your opinion.”

When the same conversation is brought up again because they want you to change your mind, remind them, “I am not discussing this.”

Always be kind and always say, “I love you” even if they won’t. Put on self-control in a confrontation, and do not repay insult with unkind words or accusations. Remember: Asking questions, reminding them of an answer already given or stating your opinion is not wrong even if they treat you as if you are sinning by doing so.

When you mess up, admit it, ask for forgiveness from the person and from God and think of how you can better handle the same situation next time; because most likely there will be a next time. (It is likely you might be the example setter for apologizing because the person you are having difficulties with may not have, “I’m sorry,” in their vocabulary.)

Loving  with an action that is beyond your comprehension may seem undo-able to you. You are not alone. Seek God and ask Him what His heart and will is for you in this situation. “…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NIV)

What Would Jesus Do in a Toxic Relationship?

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

This is my Toxic Tuesday post on Boundaries a day late.  Illness, a migraine, Christmas planning and festivities and appointments left my house and Tuesday to-do lists flat and unchecked on the pages of my daily calendar.

I will be sharing over the next few week steps I took to make right a gone-wrong relationship and I will share the results of my undertaking. I believe God calls us to be the peacemaker, the negotiator—the problem solver. Why do I believe this? It is the theme of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. Relationship gone wrong is the reason we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, the reconciler of toxic relationships. Compared to Him we are all toxic. Jesus had justification to leave us behind forever—to move on; to create a new world with sinless people but He didn’t. He remained faithful to His creation when we did not remain faithful to Him. When Christ could have left He instead came closer.

Believe me, the coming closer to my toxic person made me squirm. The what-ifs of my decision took over a portion of my thought life; which in hind sight was essential to keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (The Message)

 

As I interacted in my toxic relationship I focused my eyes, mind and heart on Jesus and told my mountain to, MOVE in the name of Jesus. “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20. I knew it was the right thing to do and I wanted to stay the course; in fact, when I knew without a shadow of doubt God was releasing me from the relationship I refused to budge. I knew as a Christian God could and would see me through to the other side as I set my resolve toward Him through prayer, Bible study and wise godly counsel. I had faith my toxic person and I would come out on the other side to healing and reconciliation.  At times I felt as though God held my hand as I skimmed the surface of hell begging and pleading with my person to leave their sin, make things right, do the hard thing, seek help, choose their family and their God; not their messed up life and their vocation.

I knew I would never regret staying close to God and doing everything I could through prayer, fasting, setting boundaries, receiving wise godly counsel and finding detours around obstacles.

That being said; if your life is in danger or you are being physically or sexually abused please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.  God does not expect you to endure abuse or live in danger.

More to come next Tuesday.

Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries

keep-calm-and-have-boundaries

“She dresses herself with strength.” Proverbs 31:17

There is a way to remain strong and to thrive despite interacting with a difficult person. It isn’t easy because when you are in the middle of relational turmoil or are receiving a verbal lashing it can be challenging to keep your thoughts straight.  Thinking quickly typically does not happen. If you are like me, you have to think about and pray about the situation before acting, speaking or setting a boundary. Having a plan of action in advance will safeguard you and will be beneficial to the other person. Often the difficult person has a tough time with self-control and your boundary can actually help them keep an emotional or verbally abusive outburst from erupting.

Does your D.P. (difficult person) keep asking the same questions over and over? Do they refuse your answer and creatively find another avenue to demand the response or resolution they desire? Do you continually hope for an agreement? Do you long to be rationally understood?

Disagreements abound. There may be several answers or opinions to a subject but not to your D.P. To them it is black and white and their way or opinion is the only correct one. Do not waste your time arguing. Perhaps using, “That is your opinion” repetitively will soon keep your D.P. from attempting to overtake you on the matter again. It isn’t that your D.P. forgets the previous conversation you had on the topic. It is that your D.P. is attempting to wear you down. “That is your opinion,” used consistently will remind your D.P. the ‘wear them down’ tactic is no longer a working strategy to be used against you. I’m not saying they will not continue to try, I’m saying, “That is your opinion,” is a gentle reminder to them that this conversation is going nowhere. This also shows them that you are keeping your opinion and your dignity.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) Although your reply will not be received as gentle it is working in a gentler way than arguing words which are being fired at you from a flaming tongue.

Is the topic to which you have already given an answer being approached—again?  Think about this response, “I am not discussing this with you.” Any time your D.P. brings up the topic in hopes of receiving a different answer from you; remember this easy phrase. You will most likely have to say it several times as long as this person stays in your life.

“Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough.”  Matthew 5:37 (Living Bible)

If your D.P. likes to make decisions for you or give you orders but they are not an authority figure, “That’s not what I was thinking” or “That’s not what I had in mind,” are examples of good phrases to learn. After your D.P. has heard the same phrase multiple times they will remember the boundary before trying to cross it again.

If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

If you are dealing with an individual suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder they will never tire of attempting to wear you down. They are not able to see your point of view; they are not capable of empathizing, loving or bonding. They are users who recruit people for close relationship who can be used for a specific purpose to improve their existence, provide a cover for something they don’t want others to find out about them or meet an unhealthy desire.  Maybe you have recently come to this realization about someone in your life. Although you may see this and know this, the most maddening part of it is that no one on the outside sees it. That is because a narcissist lives their life on a stage acting out the role they think the other person wants to see. They are the grandest actors you could ever have the disadvantage of being in any type of relationship with. Here is a very important character trait to remember when dealing with a narcissist: Self-control. Although telling them how you feel or giving them a verbal reprimand may feel good to you; when it is all said and done you will soon realize it was wasted time, emotion, words, energy and thoughts because not one word of it will be taken seriously or to heart. In the end this will further frustrate you. A narcissist has no other point of reference other than themselves.

These lessons have been hard experiences I have lived through and learned from, but I only learned from them because I spent extensive time in prayer and Bible study, and had the loving support of family and some of the best friends a girl could ask for from God. If you make time for Jesus, through prayer and Bible study, and invite Him into all areas of your life; you will never regret it or think, “That was time wasted.”  Never.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Most likely the issue with your D.P. is control. These personalities long to having power over other people but now that you are on to them, you can set up safe and healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will recognize the behavior when you see it and not be caught off guard. I remember the feeling when I finally began to recognize it. Your, “Ah hah” moment is coming!

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31: 25-26 (NIV)

Most importantly, practice I Corinthians 13:2, “but (if I) have not love, I am nothing.”  (ESV)

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”         I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)

Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries

Boundaries

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Last week I shared a sampling of scriptures teaching about fools—common day toxic people. I’m not referring to nuisances or dealing with someone who appears to be in a bad mood today. I’m referring to the very character of a person who shows no regard for you, your heart, your needs or your boundaries. You know something is wrong; you just don’t know what.

First I need to acknowledge that I have been a fool of Biblical proportions on many occasions; especially as a youth. Without Christ, I cannot imagine where I would be emotionally, spiritually or even logistically. I know for certain I would be a toxic mess in every way; including contaminating those around me.

Second I need to acknowledge my gratefulness to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for living to intercede for me. For His sacrifice. His grace. His mercy. He saw me, a foolish—toxic person, who loved Him and wanted to be used by Him as redeemable and usable.

That being said, in my adult life, I have encountered numerous unhealthy people who were users, manipulators and who were abusive in nature.

How I easily fall prey…

I naturally trust people even though life experiences have taught me multiple times over that I should use caution.

I assume I am wrong when someone tells me I am wrong, that I am misinformed or that I am not remembering correctly. My insecurities leave me feeling wrong in almost any circumstance. This drives me crazy.

I want to be a peacemaker. I do not want to make someone angry or mad at me and I want to avoid problems at all cost.

I have to stay close to the Lord in prayer and in His word or I have the potential to continually make mistakes. I am capable of messing up even when staying close to Lord through prayer and through His word but I would rather make a mistake acting in faith than make a mistake because I did nothing at all.

You can understand how the above plays into my thought life when interacting with an abusive person.

Here are some controlling mechanisms I have encountered: If you want specific signs to look for and responses to use for the below topics; they may be found in: The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond By: Patricia Evans.

  • Withholding companionship and/or conversation
  • Not allowing you to have a different opinion which ends all possibility of a discussion
  • Your experiences and feelings mean nothing
  • Making jokes about you that actually cut to the bone but are disguised as ‘funny’
  • Withholds information from you so there cannot be a discussion, purposefully changes the subject or gives multiple answers to a question but never the answer to the original question
  • Diverts all accusations back at you (think of a mirror being held in front of the person reflecting all your comments back onto yourself)
  • Judgmental or condescending tones that criticize you; even when you are complimenting them it may not be a grand enough compliment and is therefore received with anger or resentment
  • Makes light of your significant words or actions as having little significance. This can be as matter-of-fact or subtle
  • Undermines you, your ideas, your experiences or your needs
  • Threatens  you emotionally or verbally
  • Calls you sarcastic, condescending or mean names
  • Everyone forgets once in a while; this forgetting is denial and manipulation to avoid taking responsibility or apologizing for something they have said or done; or regularly forgetting important commitments to the other person
  • A drill sergeant who orders you around instead of respectfully asking
  • Denies your reality – “I never said that.” “You are making that all up.” “We never had that conversation.” “I don’t know where you got that.”
  • Abusive anger

You can imagine how off balance I become when dealing with an abusive person.  Even when I begin to understand something is intrinsically wrong with the person, their ideas or perceptions it can be difficult for me to decide the healthy way to deal with it. My first concerns are usually, “Did I do something to cause this issue?” “I don’t want to make the situation worse than it all ready is.” “I want to reach them for Christ so how can I handle this in a positive way?”

Do not explain yourself or defend yourself. Do not get emotional. A word of caution when interacting with an abusive person: They often feed off of your reactions. Do not feed the monsters! And if you are in relationship with a narcissistic person; they feed off of positive or negative emotions. They may be nice to you, hoping for praise and accolades to feed their ego but when it does not work they will turn to negative behavior hoping for a negative reaction out of you; again, to feed their ego. This is called Narcissistic Supply. DO NOT BE THEIR SUPPLIER. Indifference is the key to keeping your sanity when dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Keep your emotions to yourself.

“Don’t spend a second trying to explain that you weren’t doing what you were accused of doing or guilty of what you were blamed for. Just say, ‘Stop it.’ Abusive statements are lies about you which are told to you. They violate your boundaries. The abuser in effect invades your mind, makes up a ‘story’ about your motives, and then tells it to you. No human being has the right to do that to another.

 Generally, accusing and blaming involve lies about the other person’s intentions, attitudes, and motives. They leave you feeling frustrated and misunderstood and, therefore, especially desirous of explaining yourself. If you do try to explain yourself, the abuse is perpetuated.

 One more word about ‘explaining.’ If you are encountering abuse and feel that if you could explain things the other person would understand, remember this: If someone started throwing rocks through your windows, you would be more inclined to tell them to stop than you would be to explain to them why they shouldn’t throw rocks. Verbal abuse is like a rock thrown through your window.” Patricia Evans (2010) The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond. Massachusetts: Adams Media. p. 141

Simplicity: “Stop it.”

Say it. “Stop it.” Keep practicing.

If you wonder, or know, that you may be dealing with a foolish, toxic, abusive person I highly recommend keeping a dated journal. Depending on the type of abuse; this may require keeping your journal in a safe place, password protecting your electronic journal or typing your journal as an email and sending it to yourself at your password protected email address.

Why journal? To show yourself that you are not the crazy person you are constantly told you are or feel like you are. This will help you decide how to set healthy boundaries for yourself or your family. You may even find that the traits or problems you are dealing with in the other person are listed as mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is available at your local library and you can find criteria for specific mental illnesses online.

If you are in a physically or sexually abusive relationship you need to report it to the police and/or seek help at your local Domestic Abuse Shelter. You need to begin a paper trail that could later be used for seeking help not only for you, but for the abuser, and a paper trail that would stand up in a court of law. In the right margin of my blog you will find a link under ‘Resources’ for Domestic Abuse/Domestic Violence with hotline numbers for abused women and men.

I am not saying we can avoid all difficult people or all difficult circumstances. Placing our faith in Christ  is not an insurance policy for avoiding pain and suffering. We need look no farther than Christ on the cross to put away that argument.

In Romans 8:35 Paul asks whether, “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” can separate us from the love of Christ. Since this was included in scripture we can be certain Paul knew of what he wrote. We will experience hardships.

So stay close to the Lord, nothing can separate us from His love. Pain, suffering and difficult relationships should not drive us away from God, but rather allow us to identify with Him and allow Him access to our hurts. Only then can He give us the complete healing we need.

Pray about it. If you need help on how to pray specifically for a difficult relationship, take a look at my blog post: DIY Prayer Box. It will give you numerous ideas for spending time with God.

Toxic People

     TOXIC TUESDAY warning

          In an earlier post, Flashing Billboards on My Forehead, I began explaining my history of unhealthy relationship issues and how I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to them in a biblical way.  I have not always been a beacon of healthiness myself. When I became serious about a daily relationship with my Savior and began spending time in the scriptures and in prayer something extraordinary happened; I invited Christ to show me my sin. My unhealthy ways of thinking, talking and interacting with others. And do you know what happened? I began to be convicted in my heart, soul, mind and strength. I acknowledged the problem, repented of it, asked Jesus to heal it and replaced the empty healed place with something good leaving no room for the problem to return. This is a continual process.  As my son, A.J., articulated this week while we were studying Jesus the One and Only, “Jesus was born naturally perfect.” To which my son Colson replied, “Man, I wish we could have been born that way. We were born sinful.” Yep, every single one of us. That is why we need Jesus the One and Only!

Here is my continuation:

When prayers were not answered in a way I could detect I turned to reputable Christian books on being a peacemaker, developing healthy relationships, remaining purposeful in prayer and resolving conflicts biblically but they were of no use. These books are beneficial for most people living in a sinful world when interacting with mentally and emotionally healthy people or even being in relationship with those suffering from mental illness who are willing to admit they need and want help. Relating to a person suffering from mental illness who refuses to seek help goes beyond the practical application offered in most books with the exception of the Bible. Applying grace and mercy is essential in relationships with those who suffer from mental illness because God calls us to love others. That being said, God does not call us to abuse at the hands, or the mouth, of a foolish person. The Bible has much to say about the foolish; in fact, a word search at biblegateway.com yielded 182 verses pertaining to a fool. Here is a sampling:

Psalm 107:17 -Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 13:20 – Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 14:7 – Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips

Proverbs 14:8 – The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

Proverbs 17:21 – To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.

Proverbs 17:25 – A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.

Proverbs 23:9 – Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.

Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

Proverbs 27:3 – Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Proverbs 27:22 – Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.

Ecclesiastes 10:2 – The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left

Ephesians 5:11 – Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 3:10 – Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

Wow! Scripture is clear that we need to stay away from foolish people and that includes those who are dysfunctional, abusive and boundaryless.

I have a history of allowing anger, toxicity, to be taken out on me so when it comes up it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.

Several books I have read referred to these foolish people as, “Toxic” which I consider spot-on terminology. When you come in contact with a chemical toxin you can become contaminated to the degree you are damaged in part or in whole. Spiritually, emotionally and physically speaking we become damaged by “toxic” relationships but instead of calling a HazMat response team to stabilize and remove the toxins we have the Ancient of Days. The Creator of the universe. The Author of Math and Science who created the properties of every toxin known and unknown to man. God knows our entire history and is capable of locating, speaking truth over and eradicating the poison from our very being.

God’s word has everything we need for understanding how to live on planet earth.  This does not necessarily mean our life will be easy or that we will never have impossible issues or problematic people to deal with. God’s word does not tell us we will never encounter difficulties or be allowed more than we can handle just because we are Christians.  You have heard the quote, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” You will not find this quote anywhere in scripture. I have lived through more than I could cope with in multiple areas of my life.  Scripture says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. My times of strenuous challenge have not come from temptation but rather from God allowing me to live through more than I could understand or deal with in a healthy way. This caused me to pray and read the Bible more believing God would heal me and He did; however, not always the way I hoped He would. My help usually came in ways I never imagined. God’s word says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. God’s track record for sustaining me and not failing me is 100%.

God continually allows me more than I can handle which leaves me utterly dependent on Him. I don’t mind this and I actually enjoy rubbing Satan’s stupidity into his own face because every time he sets out to destroy me; my inabilities and weaknesses are turned into strength. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9. You see God does tell me in scripture that when I am weak He will be strong. When I cannot get up off the floor from deep despair His word says He will be the, “Lifter of my head” and He is.

You may be asking, “Who are foolish—toxic people?” If you have to ask you may not have such a person in your life. Or you may have grown up in a toxic relationship and not be aware of it because it is all you have ever known. For others, you may have had a name or two in mind while reading this post.

Foolish (toxic) people are the ones who complain all the time about you and/or pretty much any topic. They are the ones who always blame you for their problems. When you lovingly confront them they always turn things around so things you felt they had done wrong are suddenly your fault or you are the one who did it or you are crazy because it never happened. They drain your energy and leave you feeling tired, angry or depressed. No matter how much you try to cheer them up or compliment them it is never enough and may even come across as an insult to them. They constantly find fault with you and you can’t do anything to please them. Even the Proverbs 31 woman could never please this type of person. They may take advantage of you and manipulate you. They do not respect boundaries you have set. There are controlling aspects of your relationship with them. They are verbally, emotionally, spiritually, physically or sexually abusive to you or a loved one. Are they so nice then so mean, or so mean then so nice, to the point you are left dazed and confused as to what just happened? These are some of the signs to look for in a foolish—toxic relationship.

Do you recognize yourself in such a relationship and want to know how to respond?

The Bible clearly teaches that we are to have nothing to do with a fool but what are we to do if the person is a family member, long-time friend or co-worker?  If you are asking yourself this question I highly recommend you commit the issue to God through prayer. Faithfully ask Him what His heart and will is for you in this relationship and petition it in the name of Jesus.

I would like to tell you that God always repaired and healed toxic relationships in which I was involved but He did not. Not because He wasn’t capable of doing so but because the other person had free will, given by God, but did not choose to be reconciled and healed.

In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

Here is a list of books I have read over the years and can personally recommend:

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Townsend, John

Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond by Evans, Patricia

Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Allender, Dr. Dan B

If after praying, studying the Bible, receiving godly council, reading and applying applications and setting healthy boundaries you still see no improvement in your relationship with your fool; it may be time to move on.

Maybe you are asking, “What does this application of setting boundaries look like in real life?” I will attempt to share some of my life lessons on boundary setting in upcoming blog posts. I’ll think of them as: Toxic Tuesday: Self-protection from fools of Biblical proportion.

I am no authority in this area, just a fellow sojourner, who God happens to be very serious with in the area of setting boundaries for the purpose of protecting myself and those I love.

Remember: There isn’t any problem a little bit of chocolate and a whole lot of Jesus can’t fix!

LivingWell

Flashing Billboards on My Forehead

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

“I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

Philip Yancey

Conflicts: Dysfunctional. Abusive. Boundaryless. They can happen to anyone including Jesus followers who daily spend purposeful time with God through reading the scriptures, in-depth Bible study and consistent prayer. You may be a godly person and a good neighbor, boss, employee, co-worker, parent, spouse, child, sibling, relative or friend finding yourself in an unwanted and uncalled for difficult relationship or circumstance.

I have had relationships in which I interceded for the other person through prayer by asking Jesus to heal them of their dysfunction, mental illness or sin. Most scriptural records of Jesus healing a person were instant, complete and permanent. Even though the person I prayed for had not asked for the help or healing and I could not physically take them to Jesus; I could spiritually bring them before Jesus.

I have previously witnessed Jesus provide in ways that seemed impossible to me relationally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even legally. He is so like that. When I have been at my wit’s end believing there was no possible way, no hope, no healing, no relief, no safety to overcome an obstacle; Jesus did the impossible. My mind had not previously conceived what He chose to do on my behalf. It was so out of the box that only He could have done it. There lies the beauty; Jesus has no box and I cannot put Him in one. Whoop — whoop!

That being exclaimed, I must also add that I have known Jesus long enough to realize not all prayers are fulfilled the way I wish, in my timing, or sometimes they may not be answered in my lifetime and I know I’ll have to wait until heaven to see how it is eventually answered. My heart may sometimes doubt Jesus heard my prayer but my mind always knows better. He hears, remembers and acts. Always.

If you use Pinterest, the online bulletin/pin board, you have likely read quotes about trusting your heart: “There is no instinct like that of the heart.” “Trust your heart. What is true feels good. What is false causes doubt.” – Monica De Liz. “Always listen to your heart.” “When you can’t believe your eyes you can always trust your heart.”  “Trust your heart and you will be with the one you love” -Aunt Wu.

Here is what trumps all these quotes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV). Our hearts need to be established in Christ first and even then scripture tells us not to trust in our heart, but with all of our heart, trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).

I knew Jesus was capable of healing the person I was praying for. Scripture told me of His great power and; moreover, scripture states the power is for us. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV). I have longed for this kind of power to be exerted in to the heart, soul, mind and strength of someone I knew on multiple occasions. The bottom line was they had to want it and believe Him for it. When they did not —I was not quick to give up on them. I’m stubborn like that.

Often when I sense God has released me from relationally reaching out to someone and has shown me the exit door from a dysfunctional, abusive or boundaryless relationship; I usually look for a detour and go back for the person. I find myself wondering, “Have I done everything I can?” I do not want to question if there was possibly something else that would have worked. I continue to pray and ask if there is please, another way. I must know I did everything I could and when I look back; have no regrets. If I am going to error I can live with erring in faith but I could not live with erring in what was convenient. I am capable of missing the proverbial boat when it comes to discerning the voice, the will, of God and I want to make certain I clearly understood his heart and will for this concern.

On the other hand, I have a history of allowing anger (toxicity) to be taken out on me so when it comes up in a relationship it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.

Sometime I imagine I have a flashing sign on my forehead that reads, “Easy to Manipulate: Free Test Try” or perchance “Bounaryless: Trespass without caution.” God keeps the lessons in these areas coming at a steady pace and He is determined to teach me how to soar by handling the issue without becoming nervous, shaky, lightheaded, heart pounding out of my chest or; as in my most recent lesson, feeling like Icy Hot was rubbed on my chest. I never before experienced this sensation during a difficult confrontation and fortunately was able to laugh at myself when the conversation had finished. Icy Hot — seriously — I never knew!

Thankfully, God is a patient teacher who does not give me a failing grade. He just keeps teaching me new applications and giving me new situations in which to work them out. God has also given me a godly, humorous private tutor who happens to be an Ace when it comes to practical application. God is very serious about me learning this lesson and passing on to you what I learn. I must add that these lessons are not easy and are sometimes painful. To quote Beth Moore from a lesson in Daniel: Lives of Integrity, “You want to learn this lesson in the classroom and not on a field trip.” I imagine I have more field trips logged than the average student.

In an upcoming post I will refer to toxic relationships, or what the Bible refers to as relationships with fools. Until then; if you, like me, have a flashing billboard on your forehead — turn it off! And keep clear of Icy Hot.