* Please note this is a series – if you are new here, first of all, thank you for visiting us.  You are always welcome.  Secondly, should you want to read this series from the beginning or pick and choose by topic, click the “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” tab under the header above. 

Before we dive-in, let me tell you that we’re going to do something a bit lighter tomorrow – all this serous stuff can make us face things within us that we just need to process a bit before we move-on.  Though there have not been a lot of comments left after either of the post on Friday or on Monday, many of you contacted me personally to discuss your own experiences with toxic relationships.  I’m praying for your healing because there are so many of us who have experienced this and it’s just hard.

But what makes a relationship toxic?

There are several pieces to this but in my experience, the number one trait among those who are not healthy or safe in relationships is their own inability to forgive.

Maybe you’ve heard the adage that refusing to forgive someone is like pouring a cup of poison for your enemy and drinking it yourself?

When we refuse to grant the grace that Jesus so willingly allots us each day, there is a poison that enters our soul and eats away until all that’s left is bitterness.  Anger. A victim mentality.

And our thoughts stink so badly that toxic fumes emit and we don’t even know it.

Recently, I had a discussion with someone via email who is incredibly wounded and held so captive that it’s simply painful to witness.

She shared that she can’t forgive something that happened to her two years ago and, oh, do I get this, sisters.

If you know anything about my story, you know it hasn’t been an easy road to where I am and even now, I deal with ghosts that threaten to take me down each day.

On most days, I choose to forgive but if I can be completely candid, I don’t necessarily want to.  Some days I simply don’t choose to forgive.

Those days are brutal – the bitterness and anger that boils over and out is not pretty – its venomous and death-giving and threatens to derail me from all I have worked so hard to attain.

Instead of speaking life-giving words over my family, I speak the words of death.

Instead of seeing the best in those around me, I see the worst.

Instead of looking at what’s right, I look at what’s wrong.

And truth be told, I can’t stand myself when I refuse to forgive.

No one – not one person, is responsible for our inability to forgive.  That blood is on our own hands, sisters, because it takes only ONE to forgive but TWO to reconcile.

Reconciliation is a whole other ball-of-wax but forgiveness hurts no one more than you.

To aid us in our journey of forgiveness, here are five strategies to help us arrive at a place of peace and forgiveness:

1.  Meditate on scriptures about forgivenessClick here for a complete list but my favorite verse on forgiveness is Colossians 3:13:  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

2.  Pray for the one you need to forgive.  And yes, I know this is really, really hard. At first, I had to MAKE myself do this but eventually, I realized that praying for my enemies or those who persecuted me (which I guess would also be considered my enemies) actually softened my heart towards them and allowed me to arrive at a state of forgiveness. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:44

3.  Mold forgiving children: teach them that forgiveness is mandatory in your home.  We will all hurt each other at some point because we are encased in flesh but refusing to forgive is denying others of what Jesus so freely gave us.  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-16

4.  Imagine your offender as a child.  I know this sounds incredibly weird, but there’s something about seeing the sweet, innocent, and pure side of them.  They likely played with Barbies and loved ice cream and laughed over jokes that didn’t make sense. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3

5.  Ask God to reveal to you what’s at the root of your own unforgiveness.  Is it pride?  Do you always want to be “right”? Are you playing a passive aggressive game that gives you the upper hand as long as you don’t forgive?  See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another Isaiah 48:10-11

And if you want to read more on this topic, my friend, Stefanie Brown of UpLIFTing Words, wrote a three part series on this topic here, and here, and here.  It’s simply beautiful.





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