I’ve been totally blown away by a book I’ve been reading, “When to Walk Away, Finding Freedom from Toxic People”. Gary Thomas, a Christian pastor, is the author. His words shed light in a new way- I wish I had read this 13 years ago!
I’m not sharing this to condone divorce, but to bring light into some of our situations. Certainly, our hope is to be able to keep our marriages and families intact, Lord willing.
Just because we may find someone annoying or choosing conflict doesn’t always qualify them as “toxic”. Mr. Thomas goes into great detail about what a toxic person looks like, and we shouldn’t be quick to label just anyone we have a problem with.
As God brings women to me who have experienced similar circumstances, I realize they want advice. They want to know what to do next. They are confused, seeking clarity. I know how they feel, and I although I can’t tell them what to do, I do share what I’ve done- what has helped me.
This book is a wonderful tool to help bring clarity to any toxic relationship. Mr. Thomas is an advocate for marriage- not divorce, as I am, but gives words that are wise and full of insight.
“When to Walk Away” describes Jesus, when He started his ministry. He had a mission. He came to earth to draw people to Himself, and to God, the Father. As Jesus preached, He met those who opposed Him. But as we read in the gospels, we quickly realize He didn’t hang around to argue.
For those who would not receive His message, He moved on. He didn’t force anyone to believe. He didn’t waste time on people with hardened hearts. He didn’t throw “pearls to swine” or “give bread to dogs”. He came for those who recognized their sin and need for a savior, so that’s who He chose to spend time with.
His mission was the cross- to save the lost. His time on earth was short- He spent his time healing people (which actually means saving people). For those He knew would not receive Him, He chose to move on.
After years of trying to fix a broken marriage, to change a husband’s heart, I accepted the fact it was not my job. When we want to control another person, we are trying to do God’s work.
Here are some highlights from the chapter on divorce- concerning those considering separation or divorce:
The first question is not, “Should I get a divorce?” or “Is it OK to get a divorce?” The first thing to consider is safety. Putting yourself in a safe place is a form of worship.
We are removing a great pain to God when we don’t allow others to hurt us. (This is huge for me! For the longest time I could only view myself as disappointing God- for not being loving or compassionate enough- a lie from the enemy!)
“Controlling” people can escalate to violence when they believe they are losing control. Therefore, the most dangerous time for us is when we try to break free. Seek counseling to be guided through the process. (Even the mention of separation can be dangerous.)
Staying with a toxic person keeps them from recognizing their own toxicity. Sometimes it takes walking away for them to realize and face what the consequences will be if they continue in a toxic pattern without repentance or recovery.
If there is absolutely no repentance, sometimes the most loving thing to do is walk away as Jesus did. Never define yourself as a failure because you were not able to withstand the pressure or maintain being married to a toxic person.
Call the toxic person to radical repentance. No longer enable, tolerate or endure abusive behavior.
Some spouses sacrifice themselves, blame themselves, and exhaust themselves trying to make a toxic marriage work.
Sowing and reaping: If a toxic person keeps acting out sexually in inappropriate ways they need to know they will lose you.
We have 3 names.
- Kept (safe in the care of Jesus Christ)
Don’t fret about the past, meditate on the powerful Savior who keeps you now.
We are safe in the service of Jesus Christ. When we need to walk away, God provides a doorway to new life and new service to Christ.
If you’re trying to figure out ways to live with a toxic person in your extended family, workplace, or home, this book is a must-read. It gives clarity from a Christian perspective, and gives an abused person a fresh outlook with ideas to consider. I highly recommend!