How do you deal with toxicity in relationships, be it with family members, close relations, friends and acquaintances? I am reminded of 1 Peter 4: 8 which talks about loving one another above all and how love covers a multitude of sins. What does this mean when it comes to dealing with human relationships which have become toxic? By toxic I mean any individuals whose behaviours fall into any the following categories:
individuals whose words and actions have betrayed your trust in them,
who always disappoint you and still somehow expect you to stand with them,
or they manipulate you into thinking that everything that goes wrong in the relationship is your fault, and somehow they are never wrong,
and they never apologise…
Personally, in 2020 I feel like saying enough is enough and cancelling people who have toxic energy. But, as a Christian, I am struggling with this. I am aware that I need to forgive every offence and pray for those who continuously offend me. I am also aware that giving the other cheek when slapped is what Jesus would do, but how easy is this for us as humans to do? We are fallible and find such conflicts in relationships very difficult to handle.
I came across a blog post earlier today titled “The love that listens” written by fellow bloggers @Fochwoman and it really helped me put this issue into perspective. You can also read the amazing post HERE. I was reminded of the verse Proverbs 19:11, quoting from the New Living Translation:
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
As much as I would want to “cancel” people who have already wronged me at the very beginning of the year, I also want to be a sensible human being and try to understand them and why they may be the way they are. By overlooking their faults, I choose to love in spite of their weaknesses, the same way I would also wish to be loved with all my flaws. This is by no means an easy choice, and yes that little voice screams that “they have always been doing this” and “they will not stop disrespecting and abusing you”; “you’re enabling them by forgiving them”, “yada yada yada”, but that is not the voice to listen to right now.
What makes it easier for me to make this choice right now is the knowledge that I don’t have to do it alone. The Holy Spirit will guide me in knowing the right words to respond when the time comes. And this makes me feel more secure and frees me because I do not have to carry bitterness or unforgiveness in my heart. Through prayer and constant reflection, I believe we can all get to a place where we think before we respond. We can be the light in the darkness and refuse to be the gasolene in the fire of toxicity by speaking back or refusing to pray for those who offend us. I hope this encourages someone today.