"If it be possible…, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18
For the past few weeks I felt as though I was going through a metamorphosis, shedding some negative emotions that weighed me down for years. A conscious decision to cast off these emotions was met with some new challenges. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I came face to face with some people who hurt me deeply a few years ago.
I prayed for years to forgive these people, but when I thought about them I was hurt and angry. They thought they were blameless for the infractions committed, but their actions wounded me deeply. I did everything in my power to avoid all contact with them. Now, I was face to face with them and to my amazement I no longer harbored those intense emotions. In my heart I had finally forgiven them. What a liberating feeling it was.
Now I am not saying I forgot what transpired years ago or that I want to spend time with them. Instead I choose to stay away from them, but if I am in the same room I can be nice and speak to them. However, I know I will always be cautious as to what I say or do to prevent being hurt in such a manner again.
After giving the meeting some thought I realized it was to my benefit to be cautious. There are other people in my life that I have limited interaction with because they bring out the worst in me. I realized these are people who give no thought to others’ feelings. They are focused on themselves and everything that will benefit their quest as one of them said, “I want it all!” Underneath, I am sure they think they are doing what is best. In their inner circle they are good to their children and close family members. However, to the rest of the world I label them as “toxic people”.
In my thesaurus the word toxic brought up these words: poisonous, deadly, lethal, noxious, contaminated, and venomous. Toxic people won’t kill you but they can contaminate your life without realizing it or taking blame for their actions. They are far from being harmless as they stir up things and then go on with their lives, leaving behind a tidal wave of negative emotions.
The Bible admonishes us to do our best to live peacefully with all people. The quote about turning the other cheek doesn’t imply allowing others to continually beat us up. Romans 12:14-19 tells us to pray for those who persecute you, do all you can to live in peace with others, and never take revenge, for that’s up to the Lord. There is help for us in Isaiah 26:3-7 (NLT) with a promise that God will “keep in perfect peace all who trust in you” and that “He humbles the proud." Dealing with toxic people is a tall order, but a possible one with a reward of true peace.
Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at: email@example.com.