Tox-ic-i-ty (noun) the quality of being toxic or poisonous. (Merriam-Webster)
I have my fair share of “toxic” relationships, ranging from bad friends to bad family members. Relationships that make me feel gross inside, tear me down, hurt my heart and shatter my confidence. The hardest part about these toxic relationships is that while I recognize their lack of love in my life, many of them I still seem to be growing on my tree. They are the lifeless limbs that hang off a more sturdy branch, that can’t seem to just fall off, they must be pruned. They must be removed. This is so hard! I just don’t get it. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable human being, I have a keen sense of self. I know when someone just “isn’t into me”, when their intentions are not good, when I’m in bad company. Yet, with this innate knowledge (that took years of self awareness, mind you) I don’t clip these limp limbs that are sucking the nutrients from my tree?
How are we “supposed” to react to these people that clearly don’t have our best interest at heart? What do we do when these people aren’t mere acquaintances or co-workers but family members, spouses, dear friends or God forbid our own children (Lord, help me, I will never be ready for this). What do we do when WE are that person? The poison. The toxicity.
The answer, bearing fruit. Is this person bearing fruit in your life? Is this person breathing life over you? If your immediate thoughts are “no” to these first questions, then proceed with this next question, what is this person taking from you? I often find there are 2 components to a toxic relationship, the person who breaths life and the person who takes it. This is not good friends. In a healthy, loving, nurturing relationship you should have equal parts life breathing and receiving. Every so often one of you may be in a dark season which may tip the scales to 70/30 but you always return that difference when you yourself enter that dark season. Because you will, we all do.
“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-20)
When we look at these difficult relationships, we must look at the fruit. Do we buy a carton of strawberries without first inspecting it thoroughly (sometimes even replacing the rotten ones with fresh red ones. I have never done this, never. Nor will I admit to it). No, we don’t. So if we take such responsibility with a carton of strawberries that provide a small source of nutrition to our body, why do we not inspect the relationships in our life that literally feed our spirits, our souls?! Believe me, I am a repeat offender of this act. I should have been fined, quarantined and not trusted by the actions I once chose in the name of toxicity. I have not only been the receiver of toxicity but the giver. I remember a time in my life where I was the queen of manipulation. I often would ask a question (innocently…..yeah right) that I knew would send the receiver into a defensive tailspin and then when they had the reaction (I knew they would have) I would immediately play innocent as if I was “just asking!!! calm down!” For real, Melanie, come on…they aren’t dumb, they knew your motives were bad. I was bearing some nasty, moldy, rotten strawberries. It wasn’t until I was called out, alerted to this behavior that I had to do a lot (like years of) self reflection. I had to figure out who I wanted to be. How I wanted to be seen by those in my life. Who I wanted in my life. Fruit bearers or fruit suckers? You often attract what you are, sorry, but that is just real. Now I am not claiming to have figured it all out (spoiler alert, I often write about what my current struggles are) but I have definitely curbed 95% of those bad reactions, motives, intentions. Although, I do still find myself on the receiving end more often than I would like. My heart will tell me that I should forgive these people because that is how we are taught. I should love my brothers and sisters, neighbors, as I love myself. Which I then in turn translate (INCORRECTLY) as “taking their crap”. Yet, if we keep reading, researching, studying, we will find there is a whole other story written for toxic, poisonous relationships. While forgiveness is still at the forefront, because after all, this releases YOU not them from their bad behavior, forgetting is not a part of this equation. This is how we evaluate and proceed with caution when determining if this relationship is worth investing in. (Food for thought, not forgetting is not permission to bring up the past in every fight, it’s merely the tool to educate you on the decisions made by this person…and again, proceed with caution)
“So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19)
Point blank, toxic relationships are poison to your soul. They are not loving, life breathing or healthy. These relationships will suck you dry and then put poison in the trunk of your tree to spread to all other limbs (aka: relationships) and areas of your life. These dead, lifeless limbs must be removed & disposed of, but not forgotten. This does not give us the permission to cast human beings aside. To be ugly, vengeful or vindictive. This simply releases us from the poison that they are spreading and gives us the chance to forgive, pray and hope. These dead limbs could possibly fall into a fruitful soil, re-sprout, grow and become something beautiful, healthy and with all success fruit bearing! The important factor for us to remember here is that this is not up to us, it is not our responsibility, it is not our job to make this happen. We are here to love, pray and hope but the toxic folks are responsible for repairing, restoring and rebuilding.
The fruits of the spirit that all of our trees, ALL, should bear have been told to us. We are to spread love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL (I need this tatt’d on my chest). Whether you are a believer or not, this is a moral compass we can follow to strive for success on a daily basis. To breath life, love and peace into the lives of those around us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.…(Galatians 5:22-23)
Whether you are the toxic person or you are being poisoned by toxicity, lets dig through our carton of strawberries and start tossing out the rotten fruit that steals, robs and takes without giving, replenishing and restoring. Lets pray. Lets Forgive. Lets love. Without forgiveness, without love, we are forced into a prison of fear that will deprive us of joy, peace and freedom. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Lets bear fruitful trees friends. Lets breath life. Lets be life.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
It is always my hope that these words find who they are intended for…..