A friend of mine and I have been processing family accusations that accuse parents of being toxic. It’s a huge topic today because children are looking for ways to blame their parents for how screwed up they are … the number one culprit was their home life. First, no parent is perfect … therefore, parental guidance, rules, and home conditions will all fall short.
That is true for everyone. We are all toxic (it’s called sin). No person gets out of life without some toxicity in their lives. I believe toxic people are the testing ground for how we learn things … like telling the truth, exercising forgiveness, overcoming adversity, and facing our own demons of narcissism and pride. Since there are no perfect people, no perfect home life, no perfect parents, and no perfect children ... we are all in the same boat. We have to deal with imperfections in everyone.
How do I handle it? The first lesson in facing a toxic world is that you cannot change anyone … you can only change yourself. Once that makes sense to you, stop trying to change others and work on your own toxicity. Like a sign that my wife saw the other day says, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Change only happens when you are willing to change. If not, nothing will change and toxicity will remain unchanged. So, what is the formula for change?
This might be too simple for most people who are victims of toxic environments, but it is the formula that God uses to bring about restoration and healing. Again, this is for you, not for others. Starting by being right with God and with yourself. This is the only change you can effectively make. Trying to change parents or children is an impossible task and only leads to frustration.
Admit: We are sinners and we all need a Savior. This is the honesty factor that often is ignored. Our focus on diagnosing issues will always start with the problem in others. Rarely does it start in diagnosing what is going on inside of ourselves. Blame is an easy way to avoid self-awareness issues. We become defensive and angry and then go on the attack immediately. Processing sin is a delicate thing in a relationship. We are always processing an offense that someone else has done to us, but never start with asking ourselves the question, "Why am I so offended"? I know that I often get mad over the injustice of any kind, primarily because injustice is disrespectful to people. Any form of injustice to me stirs up all the insecurity in me and I respond by getting angry rather than looking at my insecurity. Offenses and accusations will come, regardless if they are justified or not, but figuring out the triggers of why it's affecting you to do a 'flight or fight response' is the real question to be asked. Admitting to your sin, your toxicity, your culpability, and getting clean to what is happening in you is the first step to a healthier you.
Confess: Your personal toxicity and sin will keep the situation from changing. As I’ve said, you can only change yourself… so confess your sin and your toxicity. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step in allowing yourself the freedom to confess that to God, and to others if necessary. Confession is a way to release the tensions inside of you. Most of us ignore our weaknesses because we do not want others to know us at that level. Our reputation is at stake and we would rather be known for our strengths, not our weaknesses. Yet confession of those weaknesses or shortcomings can help us overcome those things that keep us toxic and stuck.
Repent: Turn away from sins that you know are making you sick. Repentance defined is ‘turn away from and run.’ In other words, go in the opposite direction and flee … run for your life. God honors people who know they have problems but have a willingness to change by not allowing sin to perpetuate and simmer in our lives. Admit the sin, confess the sin, and then run from the sin. Confessing sin to God is where it starts, and then confessing your sin to others becomes the maintenance plan to instill accountability that repentance is still in force. Too often, we repent to God but put no boundaries around that sin, and it comes back with a vengeance. So, boundaries happen by confessing to others and that becomes a way to maintain distance from the sin.
Submit: Turn to God and rely on Him for the changes that are needed to maintain your repentance. Surrendering to God is a discipline that must happen every day. Alongside the boundaries you place in your life by repentance, you need to fill your life with something that strengthens you. God becomes your main focus in living out your life. Living a life that honors God, honors others, and honors His word will keep you away from living a toxic life.
Toxicity or sin is a reality in a broken world such as ours, but we do not have to be a victim of it or be subject to in any way. Examine yourself daily and practice this process:
This will ensure the detoxification process in your life.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler