The word toxic has become a buzzword lately when it comes to a certain kind of relationship. Toxic in the original sense means something that is poisonous or potentially harmful in a chemical. Now, the word toxic, being applied to relationships has come to be known as something that is abusive or corruptive.
What I am seeing and sensing, though, is the word has gone crazy out of hand. Now the word toxic is being used any time someone believes something different from someone else. Or, if there is any difference of opinion. One person might like something and someone else not like it at all. Now, this somehow has become known to be a toxic relationship.
Or, a toxic relationship has been identified as one person being abusive to another. Although abuse does occur, the sensitivity of certain situations has become vastly misused. We are being taught to stay away from those who differ or do not agree on one situation or another. One person is considered to be toxic to another if they feel their opinion or attitude will hinder them in some way. This is such a misuse of what God has intended for relationships. Not to mention, no one can affect another on the inside of them unless they allow it.
God does not want us to distance ourselves because of differing opinions. In fact, the Apostle Paul taught if one person eats pork and another does not then not to judge the one who eats pork. What he was saying is to just allow people to be themselves and if they differ not to judge them. Even better yet, not to distance from them or take offense because of differences. Our differences are what make us unique and amazing even if they are hard to deal with or work through. In married situations our struggles are what help us come to an understanding of one another. Sometimes the struggle is real and even very hard. Yet, its hard when two people try to come to an understanding or meeting of the minds with one another when they have been very wounded deep inside.
We carry our wounds and sometimes wave them like badges of courage when we should be healing them. Our conflicts are what exposes them. This is an opportunity to heal them together. It is a hard lesson to learn and we all have to learn it. It’s so much easier to just push away, but who will ever heal and become stronger that way? No one.
Maybe we can put the word toxic back in its place and not apply it to human beings? Toxic can be poison if it likes, but people are not poison. Humans were created to be a gift even if they are differing in opinions or even misbehaving. Although we are not encouraged to take abuse, we should love the person and not the actions. Realize our actions come from a place inside that have been learned in society over time. Relearning the best way to live, love, and be, takes time and encouragement. Push them away and you have not created victory. What you have done is allow wounds to remain unhealed. It’s brave to expose one another and sometimes confrontation is hard. Confrontation is the only way to come to a meeting of the minds sometimes. Understanding is what Paul taught us to have, not isolating from one another.
Loving you from here (and not being toxic)
Dr Jenine Marie Howry