Sunday afternoon in my Life Group we discussed toxic people. As someone who grew up in a family with toxic relationships with parents, I understand what it is like to deal with such situations. I love what Romans 16 says.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16
Dealing with toxic people in our lives can be quite troublesome. We can feel at odds with ourselves torn between our desire to be like Jesus and our need to watch out for ourselves and our welfare.
People can be toxic for a variety of reasons such as being abusive; whether physically, emotionally or mentally, or because of personality traits like being narcissistic. Family can be especially difficult if toxic because what do we do with family?
As Christians we can mistake letting ourselves be doormats and walked over with what it means to be loving. However, we are not called to be naive. We are called to be wise yet innocent, but not naive.
There are principles in the passage from Romans cited above. Notice that Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote of divisive people- “Keep away from them.” Yes that is in context of the church, but there is a principle to take note of.
There may be times that we need to keep away from toxic people. We need to set boundaries.
Yes we are to love them, but that might look more like continuing to pray for them while keeping away from them.
Dear reader if you have been abused, have been victimized by a game player who will not change, or any other situation that is toxic, you do not need to be a doormat. Pray for them yes. Forgive and give them to God yes. But you do not have to be a doormat. It is okay to set boundaries and if those boundaries mean keeping your distance, then it is okay.
I felt I should share these thoughts because I do have followers of my blog who have been victimized, who deal with anxiety and depression, who have been abused.
Sometimes seeking counseling to help with setting boundaries can be beneficial. It can also help to have a few trusted friends to keep you accountable in maintaining boundaries.
I write this as a former doormat who learned to not be a doormat. I hope this post helps others who are dealing with toxic people. I want to leave you with a thought from a book that struck me and freed me up when I read it a long time ago. The book is Released From Shame:
“God knows it is not your fault”
Thank you for reading. God Bless.