Are They Still Toxic?

"Reminder: You don't have to rebuild a relationship

with everyone you've forgiven. Just because you are at peace,

doesn't mean they're not still toxic."

My husband always teases that I hold a grudge like Native Americans hold onto tomahawks. I’ve said before that I don’t find that very funny; I do find it rather accurate however. It wasn’t always easy for me to forgive people but I have gotten much better at it as I’ve gotten older.

One of the reasons it was hard for me to forgive is because I always thought forgiveness meant continuing the relationship with my offender. I have been hurt quite often and deeply and I didn’t want to maintain relationships with those who had caused such pain. I would try to maintain those ties, but my offenders took it as permission to continue their behavior and somehow I would tolerate it all over again. I later learned that it was because I had messy boundaries. I hadn’t made my boundary lines clear.

When we set boundaries with people, it can be helpful to consider yard fences. You can talk to someone over a fence, but you certainly don’t expect them to climb over it to have the conversation, do you? You would recognize that as a boundary violation immediately. It’s the same thing with relationship boundaries.

You can choose to forgive and maintain some semblance of a civil relationship; however when people begin to climb over your boundaries, you have to be able to see it for the violation that it is and stop them immediately. Once someone has crossed your boundary, they assume they can do it again and again. Users use; it’s as simple as that. Only you can decide how long you’ll put up with their games.

You can forgive, be civil, and no longer have a “relationship” at all. I pass people in the street every day that I smile and say hello to but that’s as far as any relationship so to speak goes. We will never break bread together, we will never enter each other‘s homes, and we will never impact one anothers lives on a personal level. Hurt me once shame on you; hurt me twice, and I’m encouraging it.

Learn how to set healthy boundaries for your benefit and for the betterment of those who don’t know how to respect them. Use every opportunity to have teaching moments with those you encounter. Social media has helped undo a lot of boundary setting that was almost automatic in face-to-face encounters. We have to work harder at establishing personal boundaries now. It’s certainly worth it, however, when it comes to guarding our own hearts.

Jesus didn’t seem to have this problem because He kept His circle small, although I must admit, I don’t think 12 is a very small number. However, His boundaries were very clear in every relationship that He had. We must work to make ours clear also. When you live an authentic life, it’s hard for people to misunderstand you. Make authenticity your life goal.

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