Dealing With Toxic People

For some reason I will never fully understand, I have had more experience with toxic people than most. Let me explain what I mean by “toxic.” We all have our sinful traits that we have to wrestle with, seek forgiveness for and continually try to eliminate in our lives. I am not referring to normal humans who give in to the flesh for a time, seek forgiveness and restoration with those they have hurt and stop their sinful conduct. By toxic people, I refer to those who are not wrestling at all against their sin.

For reasons known only to them, they are under the full sway of their sinful and harmful impulses towards others. These are angry, abusive and unhappy people who feel compelled to take out their anger and unhappiness on those around them.

Toxic people are defined and ruled by their Luciferian pride. They will never humble themselves and admit wrong because, in their own minds, they have no problems. The problem is always, always with everyone around them who fails to meet their expectations and insatiable desires.

Toxic people are known by the turmoil they create around them. Whether it is a family member, spouse, co-worker, fellow church member, neighbor or someone else, these people are able to inflict considerable pain in the people they hurt. They are not happy unless there is drama and intrigue and strife in progress. They seem to take pleasure in creating chaos where there is peace, and in hurting those who are otherwise happy by finding their weakest, most vulnerable area. In my experience, there is sometimes almost a supernatural ability to sniff out an area of insecurity and to put the knife into that tender spot with glee.

Toxic people drain the life out of those around them. Their egos tend to fill the room when they enter and the oxygen, metaphorically speaking, gets sucked out for everyone else. One woman I once knew controlled everyone around her with the sound of her voice. The grating, penetrating, ceaseless sound of her talking shut down conversation for everyone in the room. I literally felt myself drooping from mental and spiritual exhaustion in her presence. Her powerful voice was her weapon, and it was used to fill every nook and cranny in a room. Nobody else existed. It was a terrible thing to witness.

Because of our Christian teaching on humility, self-sacrifice and kindness, we sometimes get the impression that to set boundaries of any kind with these people is wrong, and that we must take whatever they dish out. I do not believe this is so.

When we give abusive and vicious people permission to repeatedly sin against us without consequence, we enable them to sin. There are some times when the best thing we can do for that openly sinning person is to part company with them. When we do this, we deny the person the further opportunity to sin against us. This helps us to forgive them and cut off further chances for the enemy to take advantage of the situation.

Obviously, when the toxic person is in our home, it can be difficult to do this.  For example, toxic teenagers in open rebellion and defiance can turn a quiet home into a hellish scene faster than almost anyone.  With years of experience in raising teenagers, I can tell you that my husband and I believe strongly that love must be tough enough to do hard things for the best interest of the child and the home. No teenager has the right to turn a family home into a war zone because of his own spiritual rebellion. That is another post which I will write at a different time, but the principles are the same. Those who are unrepentant and in open sin need to face the break of fellowship this produces. If we continue to make excuses for them, coddle them and give limitless “second” chances, we are sending the message that abusive and disrespectful behavior has no serious consequences. These young people will take that same belief into their marriage relationships some day.

When toxic spouses break their wedding vows and abuse those they swore to love and cherish as their own bodies, it also requires a response. I wrote about this last summer in detail in a series of posts I intend to republish at a later date. One professing Christian man I know verbally berates and attacks his godly Christian wife repeatedly, reducing her to a trembling, crying mess. I asked her once why she stays in the room to listen to it. The answer to that is that she had trained him through the years that he could deliver whatever Satanic lies he felt like coming up with, and she would be willing to receive it. After granting tacit permission for this abusive behavior for years, changing this pattern was too difficult for this woman. The boundaries that should have been drawn years earlier were never established, and she has paid a horrendous price for it.

Those Christian women who believe they are being biblical by letting their spouses batter them are enabling their husbands to break the laws of the land, not just God’s laws. Boundaries can be biblical. In fact, there are times when refusing to draw boundaries for our own protection is actually the more sinful act.

I am not espousing a self-centered philosophy of “taking care of # 1.” What I am saying is that when we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are obligated to take care that they are not destroyed by others who are only too happy to do so. When someone is deliberately causing massive stress, turmoil and chaos, they are acting as a tool of the devil. We are fully on solid ground to do what we can to limit the enemy’s access to our hearts and minds. That means sometimes saying no to relationships that are harming us. It sometimes means having to find an alternative living situation for a rebellious young person. It sometimes means having to honestly tell someone that you can’t always take their phone calls when they call and demand hours of your time every week to share the latest installment of their life’s drama. When we approach these situations prayerfully, God will grant wisdom as to how to best handle our situation.

The good news is that God can change toxic people. It does not, despite our most sincere prayers, always happen. But by His grace, we can handle these people and situations as wisely as possible and keep the devil from causing sinful people to perpetually do damage in our lives.

64 thoughts on “Dealing With Toxic People

  1. This is the most Sensible and most Godly Wisdom on this subject I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi there sister Ingrid!
    Excellent post, i agree with you wholeheartedly and it also is an issue that is very seldom discussed unfortunately. I have a close friend, a lady who i used to share a house with and also help take care of. She was physically and verbally abused by her husband for 25 years!! It took two heart attacks and two strokes for her to file for divorce.

    At the time she was a devout Catholic lady who had taken the “in sickness and in health” to mean “well..he is mentally sick, it’s not his fault that he is paranoid and beats me on a daily basis”

    It really angers me when satan takes scriptures and twists them like that to harm people who don’t know any better.

    By God’s grace this lady is now saved and serving the LORD wholeheartedly, though she still has to bear on her body the marks of her abuser and two broken (older) children who witnessed the horrors of abuse while growing up.

    sorry i’ve written so much but this is a topic i feel so strongly about as i’ve witnessed the horrors second hand through my friends life!

    God Bless the work of your hands sister
    all love
    Anjelle

  3. Ingrid:
    Thanks for this post! Jeremiah 24:13: “Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; AND THEY STRENGTHEN THE HANDS OF EVILDOERS, so that no one has turned back from the wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gormorrah.”

    It is wrong not to confront the habitual sinner and to continue to fellowship with his moral and intellectual darkness. Currently my family of origin has been destroyed by one sibling who is toxic. Unfortunately only two of us see it. The sinner continues on in her darkness while everyone else tells her she is walking in light. In the mean time the family lies in shatters. She deceives herself in thinking she is saved. Others contribute to her decetpion. Matthew 7: 21 -23 is sobering.

    God help us to openly rebuke especially those who proclaim the name of Christ. Your point was made well. Thanks.

  4. Thank you so much for this post.

    I have had toxic friendships in the past, and the only solution was to separate myself from those, who would not heed scripture, and turn from their sinful habits.

    Thankfully, my husband could also see the destructive behaviour in these women, and he lovingly protected me, instructing me to break all ties.

    The way they use anger, to manipulate others, is downright scary.

    I had been advised by other Christian friends, to turn the other cheek, to forgive and forget. Nothing was ever said about the habitual, disobedient behaviour in the others. Nothing could have been more freeing than to separate myself, and no longer be subjected to the angry, manipulating, controlling behaviour these women exhibited in their lives.

    I appreciate so much, your sound advice, which is clearly based on scriptural principle.

  5. Ingrid, Thank you so much for this post. I am struggling with this very issue right now, and it is a word in due season for me. My own teenage son is one of my toxic famil members. Also my sisters/brother/mother are also very toxic. I have struggled with the mentality that as a Christian I should just “take it”. God has really shown me how to follow Him and that has naturally put a distance between me and the others. This post has served to encourage me that I am not crazy for wanting to be treated with dignity and respect.

  6. Thanks, everyone for the comments! Sharon, I fully understand what you’re saying. Our family reached the point with one rebellious older teen son where we knew that we had to remove the source of the strife and contention. It was the wisest thing we could have done. My husband simply refused to allow this young man to treat me, his mother, with rampant disrespect. The conflict that had filled the home every time he was there was gone, instantly, and the love of Christ once again could flow in our lives. It does not mean that the young person always immediately repents, but it does ensure that their sin is not the predominant feature in the home. Some friends of ours did not remove a teen daughter and her rebellion, the shouting, screaming, police visits ruined the childhood of their young son who had to watch all of this. It is SIN, I believe, to allow this to happen. The prodigal needs to be told to leave if they refuse to repent. Isolated from their fond habit of raising hell, quite literally, in the home, the young person is then faced with the reality that their sin has cut them off from those that love them and there is hope for God to work.

    God bless you and help you in your situation to stand strong. It may be years later that these rebellious young people begin to realize the error of their ways, but they will not remember a sniveling victim of a mother, sobbing into her hankie at the latest abuse she has received at their hands. They will remember a strong, godly woman who refuses to allow herself to be degraded by her own offspring when she is a daughter of the King.

  7. I, too, have experience with the toxic. First, we were in a church that turned toxic. We left after some initial attempts to correct the situation.

    I also have a toxic son-in-law, who is at times physically abusive and always mentally and emotionally abusive. For whatever reasons, my daughter has chosen to stay with him. He has isolated her from all her family and friends. After taking them to court, we have visitation with my oldest granddaughter, from my daughter’s first marriage, who is now 9. As the stepchild, she is the target of much emotional abuse, and can’t wait to get to our house for her visits. Her natural father has tried different times to get her out of the situation, but the courts have not cooperated. My other two grandchildren I never see.

    It’s a difficult thing to stand for the Lord in these situations, and the cost is high, but we must be willing to pay the price.

  8. Pingback: Ask the leadership coach » Dealing With Toxic People « The Hope Blog

  9. Hi Ingrid – this is a long email, so I have tried to condense as much as I can -we too have had a toxic person (daughter) in our family. We sought counselling in a church where one of the pastors told us straight out to our faces that it was our parenting skills that were at fault – and not our daughter’s rebellion – ’cause look at him – he has trained up his own children, and none of them are rebellious – so it must be our fault!
    That actually was one of the main catalyst’s for our family leaving the pentecostal churches, and our move into a Baptist church – which at the time we were ridiculed for from our “pente” friends – but I digress, as that is another story!
    Our family life was unbearable at times because of the anger, screaming fits and tantrums of our 16 year old daughter – who wanted to drink/do drugs/sleep around – we put up with it for a few years – until finally we had to say either live under our roof under our/the bible’s morals – or move out! She moved out, and we didn’t hear from her for 1 1/2 years. We found out she quit year 12 two weeks before she would have graduated – the whole situation was heartbreaking (in fact I am in tears now as I write this – even though it has been 6 years, and she is now 22!)
    I could write a book in expanding the journey that unfolded before us, but to condense a long painful journey, we eventually moved to a different town, 2 years later our daughter started contacting us – she moved to the same town – we kept in irregular contact (she was now a social drug addict), she turned up on our doorstep saying she had been kept prisoner by a drug dealer – we moved her to another town where she lived with my husband’s sister – she got a good job – started cutting out friends and habits – met a man who worked two shops away who was a christian (one of our prayers answered at the time!), and started the prodigal journey home – she is still on that road! Our parental relationship has healed greatly with our daughter over the last two years – she comes home to stay over once every three weeks or so – and to catch up with her younger sister who is our only child at home now – and she has even appologised for what she put us all through. She is seeking “God” through some interesting avenues ( she and Bono from U2 would get along great – there are “many” ways to God type of religion!)
    She now has a non-christian boyfriend who is English – but in a worldly sense has helped her mature and move on from her habitual drug friends -they’re planning to move to England later this year. We know that God’s ways our higher than our ways and we can’t understand through our earthly eyes why some things happen – but we still give God all the praise and glory – and we are still praying that our daughter ( and possible soon to be fiance) will commit their lives into His hands.
    It has been one little step after one little step – and we have never taken our eyes from God’s amazing grace, and we have never stopped praying!
    Yes indeed Ingrid – although heartbreaking – our toxic person HAD to be removed from our family, as we had started to implode. The road was hard, the decision was hard – but at all times we praise, love and honour our Lord Jesus Christ – that’s really all that matters in the end!

  10. Dear Ingrid,
    Thank you for this excellent article on such a needed and important subject. Well done!
    From reading the comments it looks as if many of us have had to learn this by experience.
    It is curious to me how mixed up we Christians can get when it comes to facing reality and responding rightly to the situation. Something is very wrong when we enable the habitual unrepentant wrong doer in the name of “love” or “grace” or “kindness” . It is none of those virtues.
    It is SINFUL to enable ungodly, unrepentant behavior.
    I appreciate your moral clarity, clear thinking and straight forward writing.
    May the Lord Jesus continue to strengthen, bless and help you in the owrk He has called you to.

  11. Thank you for this article.

    I wish I had a wise person in my life when I was younger to point this teaching out to me.

    I never had the confidence to stand up to my mother-in-law. She was wicked. She did severe damage to my marriage early on….I married her youngest son.

    Unfortunately, my husband didn’t have any Godly influences in his life to teach him that he should have stood up for me and been my defender. He regrets it now and knows that he should have put her in her place.

    My personality was too compliant and I put up with her remarks and behavior because she was my mother-in-law. I have a young son that is also too compliant and gives in to bossy people. I have talked with him a few times about not always giving in to anyone’s forcefulness, but to stand his ground.

    I became more bold in my 40′s and finally stood up to her one day when she was being brutal to a friend of mine.
    I wish I had done it sooner.

    I have regrets because of it, so does my husband.

    She died in 2001 and I still struggle with bad memories of her occasionally and mild depression.

    My hope is in God and His promises!

  12. Sadly my husbands daughters are toxic. He doesn’t stand up to them which makes it worse but I know God sees all & will be there for me.

  13. Any resources (books or articles) for dealing with a pre-teen with a budding toxic personality?
    I’d like to lead and guide him away from this, but his heading directly into it right now.
    The root of it as I see it is extreme self-centeredness.
    But I definitely could use some help.

    Thanks!
    A mom

  14. To the mom looking for a book on dealing with the budding rebel pre-teen, one of the very best books I ever read on this was Lou Priolo’s book, The Heart of Anger. It doesn’t just deal with anger, but rebellion and toxic adolescent behavior. One of my sons in particular enjoyed debates with me. I would say, “Do such and such” or “Don’t do such and such.” Instantly, I was in a debate. My serious mistake was engaging in debate with him. Lou talks about cutting this off at the knees as any time you allow a teen to force you into a debate you do not want to have, you are training them in manipulating you, and not obeying as told.

    I am not talking about sincere questions from your kids. One pastor’s family I know trained the kids as teens they could ask once: Is this open for discussion? If the parents said yes, a discussion could ensue. If they said, no, their word was final and needed to be accepted immediately. It was an extremely wise way to handle things.

    I strongly recommend this book that explains the different kinds of rebellion, active and passive. Active rebellion is the in-your-face oppositional behavior, whereas passive rebellion is simply failing to do as told. They simply ignore what you say and make either delayed obedience on their own terms or they simply “forget” to do it. (It’s still rebellion.)

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.timelesschristianbooks.com/ChristianLiving_Parenting.aspx

    I hope this helps. I know that you know this window is critical in the life of your son. God bless you.

  15. Ingrid,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I just requested this book from our local library.

    It’s a hard age, especially for a child who is “different”. He is definitely angry-understandably so, for real reasons (that I won’t go into in detail about). I’m dealing with multiple issues with my him. Hopefully this book will offer some insight and help.

    Thanks again,
    A mom

  16. Hello Ingrid,

    What a good reminder! I think we, as Christian women do tend to feel as though we should be accomodating to toxic people.

    I know someone with “the voice” when this woman enters a room the feeling of everyone tensing up is palpable. When this woman leaves, the whole room breaths a sigh of relief. Powerful, that woman. It makes me angry, when I turn into some week-willed little doormat around her because she scares me.

    Recently I wrote about negative people; it was more of an observation than a solution of how to deal with them. A couple of common traits of toxic people is #1. they are so very, very ungrateful and #2. They tear others down.

    Here is the link in case anybody’s interested:

    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/2008/12/six-traits-of-negative-unhappy-people.html

    Oh how I pray that the Lord will use me to build others up and to be a blessing to others. Our lives are too short to spend our time destroying others.

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  17. I’ve commented before on this post i’m commenting again after reading what Mr. Abanes called your ministry.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

    Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew5:10-12

    I know persecution in the west is nothing compared to persecution elsewhere but i just wanted to encourage you anyhow.

    Keep on running the race and defending the faith

    God Bless You and may you have a Blessed Day
    We Love you

  18. This is also in response to Abanes. Why can’t people simply be honest and identify themselves. For example, Ingrid is a Bible believing Christian. Why can’t others call themselves a different name? I know there are the Red Letter Christians, so couldn’t there be other groups that could self-identify, without having to bash Bible believing Christians?

  19. Anjelle and Lisa,
    Thanks for your points about Abanes and your kind comments. I have to tell you that the internet wars with the likes of Abanes and several others who have stooped even lower (one hate site has photoshopped mockery photos and a huge photo of a naked pregnant belly in a “satire” post about my high risk pregnancy) is that the Lord has really delivered me from the temptation of constantly reading what my critics (spiritual enemies) say.

    Last summer, I got caught up in reading what these terrible sites were saying, and agonizing about the lies and things that were said about me both on the blogs and in their comment sections. The anonymity of the forum allows anyone to use any name whatsoever and say whatever they want. I began to realize the folly of allowing the enemy a direct line right into my heart and just stopped reading them. I haven’t read a thing Abanes has said about me in this latest outbreak of venom, and I haven’t been back to the hate sites in several months. Why should I do that? These sites lose their power to hurt when they are ignored. These are enemies of the cross (not me), and they are tools of Satan. I am not going to give Satan an easy entre into my life any longer. One friend of mine in the discernment realm called me and tried to read one recent attack from an emergent pastor over the phone to me. I stopped him and shocked him by laughing about it. “I don’t have time for this, Don. Life is too short to listen to the enemy’s bleating.” He then emailed a link, thinking I’d still want to see it. (I appreciate his intentions here.) I still haven’t read it and don’t intend to. If I have a Christian friend with a legitimate concern about something I’ve written, that is one thing. Those who have a proven track record of abusive conduct online and who are there like Sanballot and Tobiah in the Scriptures to stop the wall building, then I have no time for them. Carry on, friends in Christ. We’re building a wall, and we can’t come down!!

    I also want to mention that God has helped so much fall into perspective with this coming addition to our family. It’s impossible to get upset over people like Abanes when you feel a new life within. This baby is reality, not the warped world of the Internet wars. Babies are the work I love, and God willing, that’s how I hope to spend my time in the future. There are some men who need to come off the bench and enter the battle for a while. This soldier is hoping to be reassigned for a time, and not a moment too soon!

  20. Ingrid – it’s very mature of you to have such a thick skin. I have let small things hurt me most of my life and even though I know I should develop a thicker skin, it’s very hard for some of us to do. I think I’ve gotten a bit better at my advanced age of 53 – but it’s taking a lot of time! Laughing these comments off is the PERFECT thing to do – it shows they are unimportant. In the big scheme of things they mean nothing. I just don’t know why these bloggers don’t realize what they are promoting is simply not traditional Christianity. I think as time goes on, these kinds of beliefs acquire names that were never intended – for example: The Emerging Church. I doubt if they picked this name, but nevertheless when I hear I know what it implies and it’s now in our societal lexicon. So in the long run, everything will sort itself out.

  21. Dear Ingrid,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply!

    I am very new to your blogs so i don’t know much about the verbal assault “internet wars” that have gone on as a result of you proclaiming God’s Word the TRUTH.

    I am SO glad to have read your reply. You are absolutely right, you are doing well in staying away from the hate sites and sticking with the real world!

    I am praying for you and your family and your baby, The Lord bless and keep you all.

    All love,
    Anjelle

    A 23yr old from Cyprus who has been helped tremendously by your work. Praise be to Jesus!

  22. Seems to me it’s obvious the need for help in this world. I think you hit an excellent topic, as my own experiences, much similar to many flood my mind… I picture the sheild and the sword of righteousness differently, as actually being applicable in many relevant ways. I pray this inspires others to work on the heart of the closed minded!!

  23. Wow. You just hit on a few things going on in my life. I don’t like that. lol. Excellent post. :)

  24. Thank you Ingrid for sharing this. My wife and I have been dealing with certain toxic family members, and now I can see that our decision to put distance between us and them was the right one. We’ll continue to pray for and love them, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick around just to be verbally abused and manipulated.

  25. I have been dealing with a toxic mother. As a child I was molested by my father, and had a lot of emotional problems because of it. I will be the first to admit that I was out of control as a child, but I have also come to realize that I was taught a lot of this by my mother.

    Whenever I talk to her it is one guilt trip after another. I can never do anything right, and on the rare occasion that she isn’t upset with me about something, it is just a constant “poor me” out pour.

    About a year and a half ago she married a man who had been to prison for child molestation. She knew him for years prior to him being convicted, and swears up and down that he is a Christian and has changed. I gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, but he has proven who he really is to me. He is an emotionally controlling and abusive person. He will also be off of parole in about a year, and my mother actually expected that at that time I would be sending my two children to stay with them. (They are currently 4 years and 6 months) When I told her this would not be happening, she refused to come to church for two weeks (she had JUST started coming again after a year of not doing so) and blamed it on me.

    I am not really sure what to do from here. She has done nothing but hurt me for as long as I can remember. I used to defend her telling people she was a great mom and that it was my fault that she always yelled, screamed, and even hit me. I would tell people that it was because I was too out of control, and while I did not deserve it, it was not really her fault. I have realized that this is nonsense, and that she was not a great mom.

    My biggest problem in just cutting her out for the health of both my family and I is my daughter. I had her out of wedlock at almost 19, and I lived with my mom until she was 19 months. They have always been very close, and one of the biggest things that has had me upset with my mom is how she has put her abusive husband even before her granddaughter. (I moved to Colorado for 7 months, only when I left I did not know I would be coming back, and even though I have been back for close to two years I still get guilt trips about taking her away, yet my mother makes little effort to see her) I am completely unsure of what I should do. Part of me wants to cut her out to protect my daughter from the evilness, and part of me wants to let them see each other, knowing that I will be leaving myself open to abuse. I will never allow my mom to take her out of my site again, do to an addiction to proscription medication, but I am unsure if it would be wise to even allow her in our home. She has in the past been blatantly disrespectful to me in my own home in front of my kids, but at the same time it would be devastating to my four year old to not see her anymore.

    I am really sorry about the length of this, but it seems like when I try to talk to people in my life for advice, they are either too busy or have clouded judgment. I would really like some advice from somebody outside of the situation as to what I should do.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  26. Dear “Mother in need of help”,
    You are absolutely on the right track to stand your ground on this one. You are the only protection your daughter has, and you already have articulated that your mother has put herself before the welfare of the grandchildren she claims to love. That’s not real love. Love protects. Love shields the innocent. You are the one with real love for your daughters because you desire to protect them from any possible harm, and I salute you for your wisdom.

    At the root of so many of these parent issues, (I have been close to several people who have had real problems like this) is the inability to make the necessary break from parents as adult children. Although very difficult to do at times, it is so important to do what you have to to protect your children.

    Relationships are a two-say street, and the privilege of having grandchildren in our lives is predicated on mutual respect between parents and adult children. There is no inherent “right” to see grandchildren, particularly when there has been a demonstrated disregard for their well-being, and a track record of abusive behavior.

    I would have a talk with your mother and tell her that you will only welcome her in your home for within your parameters and terms, and that if she can’t show respect for you, you won’t be able to allow it any longer. Her disrespect for you will be observed by your children, and you simply don’t need to perpetuate the dysfunction for another generation.

    Stand your ground, friend. Have confidence in your judgment. The unhealthy dynamics between parents and adult children are years in the making, and it can be difficult to break out of our assigned “roles” in a family. But once you realize that God has given you wisdom and discernment as a fully-fledged adult and that He did so for the protection of your children, use it with confidence. You don’t have to be angry or discourteous with your mom, just firm. If it becomes an abusive tirade from your mother, than hang up the phone. You’ll have to retrain her that you are not going to listen to it, and are not required to do for your own good.

    God bless you and help you to continue doing the right thing for your girls. You are the parent, you are an adult with good judgment. Don’t hesitate to use it with confidence.

  27. I’m reading this post from the perspective of someone who has been “cut out” of a very close friend’s life. She hasn’t responded to any of my attempts to find out why. There was no significant conflict in our relationship other than the fact that we are all humans and sin against each other every day. I’ve even sent an apology owning all my own sin (not at all addressing hers) with no response.

    Let me say that God has taught me wonderful things though this long, painful process and I know our relationship will be restored in heaven if she continues to ignore me.

    I guess I wonder…would my friend read this post and feel justified in getting me out of her life? She must for some reason think I was affecting her in a way that she needed to get away from. I know you qualified your definition of “toxic” as a someone who isn’t at all contrite. So I am not adressing situations that are truely toxic. But I guess I worry that people far too easily label someone toxic instead of trying to communicate and speak the truth in love and bear with one another in their sin – especially since they themselves are sinners and need that same mercy returned to them.

    Let’s look at the example you mentioned of someone who calls too much ….It would be important to speak the truth in love and forgive and communicate. It would be wrong to just react by claiming of your own personal rights in an attitude that is not really in love and just “throw this person away.” It’s all about our hearts and humility before God in the actions we take, right?

    Again, I know you are referring to much more extreme cases. But the human heart is so deceitful and likes to find reasons to seek/protect itself instead of being humble and finding it’s worth in Christ alone. I could see some jumping at the chance to justify their own unforgiving heart by calling someone toxic because they haven’t ever really seen the horrible effects their own sin has on people – they are used to only looking at how others affect them and want to be free of it (instead of letting God is use it to sharpen them “as iron sharpens iron”).

    My situation has really caused me to learn taking the log out of my own eye on a whole new level. And I thank God for that.

    I hope this makes sense.

  28. Brian,
    If you think I was recommending “throwing people away”, you have clearly missed the entire point of this post, and the entire purpose of this blog.

    How could you possibly think that? There are exceptions in every case I can discuss. There are obviously people who are not loving, patient, or who have attempted to communicate the issues to the difficult person involved. My post clearly stated that those are not the people I was referring to.

    I will repeat myself, in caps for clarity: I AM TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE A TRACK RECORD OF ABUSE, VICIOUS DISREGARD FOR OTHERS OR OTHER LONG TERM SELFISH BEHAVIOR THAT IS DESTRUCTIVE TO HEARTS AND HOMES. If you are not such a person, than you have nothing to worry about and clearly your friend is the one with the issue. If you bothered to read the comments under this post, you should be able to discern that this is a common problem, particularly for women.

    My post was not designed to discuss ways of talking through problems with reasonable people or friends who have taken offense at some matter in our lives. That’s what Christian love and patience are designed to address. But I, along with a number of my readers, have encountered people who have war in their hearts, no desire for peace, no heart for truth, and a pathological need to cause discord. Scripture says, “Cast out the scorner and strife and contention will go out with him.” That is exactly the point of my post.

    If your friend won’t discuss the matter with you, it isn’t because they read this post, it’s because your friend has a heart issue that only they can address. The misapplication of this post by someone reading it is their problem, not the problem of the author whose intentions were clear. You need to give the individual space, and if necessary, accept that the relationship was only for a season, which is sometimes the case. More you cannot do.

  29. I think you may have misunderstood the intent of my comment. I wasn’t criticizing your post. And this is a woman writing. I was thought I was clear, but I apparently wasn’t. I’m sorry if I offended you. I’m not sure how to make clear what I was trying to say. Please know that I wasn’t accusing you of saying you should throw people away. I really truely was not responding directly to what you said and challenging it – I was more wondering something as a tangent and looking for a response to balance that (because it seemed related to me). When you say, “it isn’t because they read this post” I didn’t literally AT ALL mean that your post would somehow have a negative influence – I was just cautioning about the state of our human hearts. Sorry again. I just don’t know how to make it clear.

  30. Pingback: very triggering dysfunctional family ..? - Christian Forums

  31. Ingrid,
    Wow. I am floored by that fact that I have found a sister in the Lord that feels the same way I do in regards to this subject. About 3 years ago we had to set up boundaries around our family because my parents and older brother were being very disrespectful and obtrusive in very abusive ways. When we sought to communicate with them about it, we were always the problem and oftentimes the discussion would end up with an all out war that my husband could not even fathom to understand. He is not from this type of family. I always hesitated to completely ‘cut them off’ so to speak because i always felt like I should accept their behaviour because they were family. All of that changed when I got pregnant with my firstborn. My husband and I decided that we would do whatever was necessary to grow our family in peace. We were determined as ever to follow peace. We backed out of several functions, holidays, and other sorts of gatherings whenever we didn’t have a peace about it. Both my husband and I knew the day would come when Satan would rear his ugly head and try to come after us full force. My parents sought to hurt me in ways I didn’t even think possible. They spoke ill of me to my friends, other family members, pastors, and my husbands boss. And yet their explaination was that it would have never been like that had we never acted like we did. Mind you all we did was put up boundaries of respect and civility to foster decency within our respective families. (Sorry the post is soo long.) Today we stand firmly by our convictions of following peace at any cost. Unfortunately, we are still to blame, and what unites them, sadly enough, is their insistance that it was all our fault. All we really wanted was them to be nice to our family. I shake my head at this statement because apparently this was too much to ask. How sad.

    Blessings to you Ms. Ingrid. From a sister in the heart of Dallas TX

  32. I thank God for the ladies of this blog who have had the courage to speak freely, in doing so you have helped me regain the confidence I needed to respond with God’s love in my own toxic relationship

  33. Wow, It’s true of the saying seek and ye shall find.. I was feeling torn because my mother is very very ill, maybe Death bed ill only “GOD” knows, and I stood up for myself with her… Sick and tired of the blame, guilt, drama, etc. Long story short, she is in great denial and deeply depressed. Hooked up with my biological father after 50 years of divorce, and he is stealing and robbing from her. Both have a co-dependent thing happening between the two. Well, in her last drama of being sick, she pulled out a gun and pointed it at me! I left the house with both of them still inside and called the police.. He runs out of the house and gets in his car and tried to run me over.. I’m not making any of this up..Police came , he was gone. When she came to the door she wanted a restraining order against me. I had the option of pressing charges and having her arrested, or leaving it alone. I choose to leave it alone. I feel guilty about feeling strong, because I know she is deathly ill, and the whole HONOR THY MOTHER/FATHER.. any thoughts?

  34. I just re-read this post, and as always I’m so grateful for your honesty! I have similar experiences–including times spent with a woman who “talks my head off” in a jarring voice, and never pauses to listen if I reply. Then there are the occasional snide-remark people. They hit below the belt!

    This is exhausting! My husband says people do this to me because I’m “too nice”. He would cut them off at the pass, as they used to say in the western movies. Anyway, I don’t feel “too nice” inside at the time.

    I’m glad I’m not alone in perceiving that some folks are difficult to be around! I remember years ago when a pastor said, “We are commanded to love everyone. But we can’t possibly like everyone!” Good wisdom! :)

  35. Hi Ingrid, I finally looked this up per your advice. Let me just say it was a literal answer to prayer. Thank you for so eloquently, judiciously, and biblically explaining the need for barrier’s from toxic people. I have a family member (couple) who have huge toxicity levels. You can literally feel the negative energy just by standing near them. My dad use to tell me that if I didn’t put up with all of it, I wasn’t being a good Christian. That has probably been our only disagreement in my life. I recently decided I could take no more. That decision I know created confusion with other members that I deeply love, but I had to trust that they would hopefully give me the benefit of the doubt, since I refuse to gossip about the situation or play 4th grade tattle tale.

    I don’t understand toxic people. They actually frighten me. I now trust my instincts and honour and protect the spirit in my soul that can no longer tolerate deliberate attempts to denigrate, and hurt me. I find people who do this knowingly to others -as hard as life is- particularly evil and need to stay far away from their specific type of nastiness.

  36. Hello,

    May I suggest the book Fool-Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious as a resource. It has helped me deal with my toxic mother and my sister’s family. My sister ‘s children can do no wrong in my mom’s eyes and if anything happens to one of them she just feels so sorry for my poor sister. One is in jail for trying to outrun the police on a suspended license for drunk driving. The girl posts all kinds of trash to Facebook, including death threats against the rest of the family. Yet, the other three siblings, myself included, are the bad ones for not supporting them. I am learning to be firm about not siding with the sister while supporting my mom and dad who are elderly and infirm. It’s a tough line to walk but with prayer, scripture, the Silvious book and sites like this I am succeeding.

    Thanks so much!

  37. Thank you, for the suggestion, I will definitely look into that book. We have a similar situation. I also walk the same fine line out of respect and concern for my parents well being. Somedays I would love to just sit down with them and tell them all that goes on behind the scenes, but I feel no good would come of it on any level. They are parents and can’t somehow choose a side even though there are some unbelievably unkind things that have gone on with me as the target. So I continue to work on forgiveness and boundaries .

  38. Ingrid, I am awed to find someone besides me feels this way! I can so relate to this. I have an older sister who behaves as you described above – angry, abusive and unhappy. She puts on a sweet face to outsiders who don’t know her well but will lie and criticize and embarrass me in front of others in a way that they think she is merely giving me “godly” correction. She also attacks me frequently, particularly in areas where I feel vulnerable (like my struggles with weight, still being single, etc.), tearing me down, and calls it “helping me.” I’ve tried talking to her about how she treats me but, as you note, she feels she has no problems and the problems are all mine.

    Our father died when we were young, and for years, whenever my sister did something to me, usually something humiliating in front of friends or at church, I would try to defend myself but my mother would tell me not to get into an argument, that I should just apologize even if I wasn’t wrong, just for the sake of peace. Things got to the point that when I finally moved out on my own, although I kept up with my mother, I kept a good distance between conversations or visits with my sister for years. I then learned she was spreading lies that I had abandoned the family and left her to take care of everything. I even wound up leaving my church because of the lies she spread. My Mom used to say don’t worry because we knew the truth but it still hurt the way some people treated me because of my sister’s damage.

    My Mom died last year as the result of an accident. That was hard enough but now my sister calls me daily, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day. It’s always to deliver some new drama, or to vent rage over something. She professes to be a saved Christian but vacillates between belief and unbelief in God on a regular basis, depending on whether He’s answered her prayers as desired, even at times saying terrible things about God. I’ve told her to stop calling with this stuff, and try to avoid her phone calls but eventually get caught and then yelled at for not being available. She says as a Christian I should listen to her rantings (poison – my word for it) because she needs to talk to someone since Mom died. Now she has found out the new church I attend, and says she wants to go there with me. I am dreading it because of what she has done before but I cannot stop her, and I also feel guilty because going to church should be a good thing. I am so stressed right now I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to avoid her but I know she’s wrong in this behavior.

    Ingrid, can you, or anyone, recommend any advice or books that might be helpful to me in this situation? Thank you for this site.

  39. I found I put up with a lot of abusive behavior because I’m a Christian and feeling guilty cutting people out. I forgive people easily only to be hurt again. I don’t have many friends since I suffered from severe depression to the point where I lost my job. All my friends (even Christian friends) didn’t stick around as I’ve discovered friends only stick around if you have something to offer. Thanks to the love of my fiance I’ve gotten better and have just got a new part-time job. However, my eldest brother has continuously put me down and still does even through some awful experiences I had, he’s not very nice to my parents either and they’re too old and not very well to deal with his destructive and dominating behavior, they kind of appease him and let him get away with it because to confront him means war! I recently found he’s told lies on the internet about his loving family making out he had a deprived childhood even though I saw how spoilt he was growing up as the first born. I can’t ‘cut him out’ because he is family and still stays at my parents when visiting for months and causing havoc and pain. I confronted him about the lies and he’s making my life awful. He is very popular too so he tells his lies to all these people. Also in my new job working for a charity they day I started he donated £1000 supposedly from his music which on the surface looks like a generous thing! (he’s very clever) but it’s just his way of making sure he’s ‘top dog’ and invading where I work too, I can’t get away from his toxic relationship and actually think he’s a megalomanic. It’s so hard to know how to handle the situation without getting angry as a Christian. It’s also hard to explain!

  40. As Dena recommended “Foolproofing Your Life” is a very good book in dealing with Toxic People. Another source I have found extremely helpful is a book called “When People are Big and God is Small” by Ed Welch.

    I’ve had so many toxic people in my life as to fill a cavern; but have learned to discern better and realize that these people are not obedient to God and will ultimately be judged by Him…..I also know that the most loving thing to do is to hold them accountable and “call them out on their sin.”

    There is another resource called “Why Me? Comfort for the Victimized” by David Powlison. It is a booklet based on Psalm 10 and has some very powerful teaching.

  41. I recently did buy “Foolproofing Your Life” and wanted to thank Dena for the recommendation. I found it very helpful, it gave me a new way of looking at the ‘fools’ that I have been dealing with for far too long. I found it to be a very different approach to the topic and I especially was impressed at how it defined foolish behaviour and did so in a biblical way. Thanks

  42. I am thankful to read this blog today, as we recently received a request from a “toxic” person.
    She’s one of those energy-draining people. She came to our open house/ousewarming party two weeks ago and picked a fight with my mother-in-law (a schoolteacher) about the merits of homeschooling vs. public school. When my MIL stated her position, instead of being mature about the whole thing, this lady stomped to the kitchen, grabbed her keys and purse, slammed the door behind her, and left. I got a sorta-apology email from her that evening, but both my husband and I were very hurt by her behavior.

    This lady has been separated from her husband for a year, but they’ve lived in the same house. They have four children between the ages of 4-11. We helped them out in a pinch with groceries because we believed that’s what Christ would do… I got a text from her last night asking if her ex-husband could live with us because we have extra rooms now that we bought our house.

    My husband is furious, and I agree… I will have nothing more to dowith this woman if I can help it!
    Dee

  43. I filed for a divorce from my husband of 28years.
    He has a drinking problem and really wants to live a single life.
    There have been so many times I have begged him, prayed for him, to please stop drinking I cannot live with this. He has gone to strip clubs off and on. We separated a while back because of this. I told him if it happens again, it is over. He goes to church with me and I see him reading his bible sometimes. Still everyday he has to smoke his pot and drink . I told the Lord one day that we are so unequally yoked. I want to serve the Lord with all my heart. The Lord gave me a scripture to come out from among them. What fellowship has light with darkness? Monday he went to the bar and on the way home picked up a lady hitchhiking. He went with her to a party. I had woke up around 4am and he wasn’t home yet. He said nothing happened. I thought about it and realized, he would rather party with a stranger than come home to his wife of 28 yrs. I am bone tired of dealing with these things. Enough is enough. I need prayer for God’s provision.

  44. Cynthia, my heart goes out to you. What a difficult situation. The Lord does show us if and when that time comes to separate when someone is being unfaithful. In so many cases, the divorce does not happen with the signing of the paper, but with the breaking of marriage vows by one of the partners who refuses to repent long before any lawyers get involved. Every woman is different and each one knows when a situation is no longer tolerable. A person is not a Christian because they profess to be. We know what they believe by looking at their life. We live what we really believe. I will pray for you in this situation for God’s care and provision and guidance.

  45. Thank you for the enlightening post. My toxic person Is my fiance’s ex girlfriend who he has continued to take care of post breakup due to her condition of lupus. Problem is, she is a miserable creature who just wants to bring everyone else down with her. She has been telling horrible lies to his mother about me, and she berates him every chance she gets. I have tried to be a friend to her and talked inspirationally to her, encouraging her in her writing and art, but she is just miss negativity and happy to be. Thankfully he Is finally seeing the light after defending her for a long time, and as we are both Christians this is a big relief. He has spent untold hours and effort to try and make her as comfortable and happy as possible… To no avail, she seems eternally ungrateful, hateful, and unappreciative. All I can do is pray for her and be nice – but not a doormat-from now on in our interactions.

  46. Dee wrote this comment a year ago so I’m sure she won’t be back to see this response but….Dee’s description of a toxic person in her life:

    <>

    I have to wonder if this is the situation – a hurting woman whose marriage is/has fallen apart. Obviously there are financial concerns because the husband is still in the home and the OP has dropped off groceries. It seems like the mom is struggling to continue homeschooling her 4 kids – the oldest 11, perhaps under pressure from the father who maybe wants her to contribute more financially. She comes to Dee’s party where she feels challenged and she over-reacted. She realized it and apologized that evening.

    No condemnation but I have to wonder what would have happened if Dee, instead of being hurt and angry and vowing never to have anything to do with this woman, had reached out and attempted to find out what pain was behind the inappropriate reaction to her MIL.

  47. Well here is a post i’ve always wanted to write. FABULOUS. I’ve never apologized for distancing people from my life who I considered to be toxic – not just to me but to others. It can be difficult to do without sinning (in anger and resentment) but i’m working on that. It hurts to see other people subject themselves to toxic people and use the Bible as their crutch. Thank you for articulating my own process and reasoning – I truly couldn’t have said it better.

  48. Thank you, thank you so very much for this answer to prayer. I have dealt for years with a toxic family of origin. Until recently, I believed it was my Christain duty to take care of them at any cost. I have provided hours of free therapy including marital therpay, spiritual guidance and disclipship and even help with money. NONE of it helped. I am tired and worn out physically, mentally and spiritually. My marriage has suffered because of my family’s ongoing dysfunctionalism and chaos. I have recently tried to set boundaries with them but they have launched a verbal attack on me. I never do enough for them and the guilt, condemnation, confusion, fear and worry torment me. One of these toxic family members has had a baby and of course is trying to use the baby to manipulate and even get her way into my home, but we just had a toxic family move out of our house only 3 months ago. We learnred a lesson there, our house was turned upside down. We are still recovering from that stay. So to get some peace, I have blocked my phone from receiving calls from certain toxic family members. I was getting calls and texts weekly about needing this or that and the drama that came with it was unreal. When I would get done speaking to them I would feel like a train ran over me. This with my family has gone on all my life and has continued into my adulthood.
    Thank you for your boldness to speak out.

  49. I am so thankful that I found this post today. I have been surrounded by toxic family members my whole life. It has come more to a realization to me over the last few years, and during the most joyous times of my life – the birth of my children. These toxic family members consist of my three older sisters, my mother, and my father because he is controlled by my mother. To sum it up, it is my whole family. I have always tried to please them, basically just to keep everyone at peace, and it has caused a huge strain on my marriage. My toxic family has almost torn apart a marriage that is an absolute perfect marriage. I married the love of my life, and I was one step away from loosing it all, until I finally had to step away from all of them. It has been very difficult to deal with mentally. Because this is my family. I have tried to rationalize with them and have talked to them about the things they do and say how deeply it hurts me, and they all find a way to blame me for everything. I am a type of person who if someone comes to me and tells me that they are hurt, I do my very best to talk to that person. Not my family – they have all turned their backs on me saying well you hurt me too. They are all self-centered and selfish, and I can’t change it, and I had to step away from all of it before it tore apart my own family. With my one daughter only being 18 months old and my other daughter only being 5 months old, I have people saying to me, how it is not very Christian of me to not let my family be apart of my children’s lives. Once again, the guilt soaks in, and it causes me to not be here 100% mentally, emotionally and physically for my girls and my husband. My sisters all have children and they have refused to let their children speak to me, and when I sent the kids Christmas gifts all of the gifts were sent back to me. And most recently I just found out that my niece has a brain tumor, and my family members won’t update me on any information. I know this is alot of information, but I guess why I am writing is because this article made me feel like I’m not the only one out there suffering with toxic family members. I am having a hard time, because I am a Christian, and I have a big heart that has put up with alot over the years, and I do care about all of my family members, but I can’t value a family that doesn’t value me. Thank you all for your stories.

  50. It is time for the enemy’s chief tool in these situations, false guilt, to be blown to smithereens. We as Christians are called to peace. Those who live in perpetual sin in their lives, whether they be professing believers or otherwise, cannot be allowed to destroy what God is doing in our own families and lives. When will we understand that these people are living in open sin when they refuse to reconcile, live in grudge-holding, lies and bitterness that they are Satan’s own tools to rob us of our peace, distract us from our first callings to our own families, and to get us revisiting the past, again and again? We are told in the Scriptures to “forget those things which are behind and press on towards the mark of the high calling we have in Christ.” We cannot do that when we are going back into our families of origin for endless drama, recriminations, depression and anxiety. Following Christ sometimes means leaving our families of origin to God and anything else that impedes our walk with Him.

    This is not about refusing to forgive, shutting people out or showing disrespect for our parents/siblings. It’s about leaving and cleaving to the new families God is building and walking away from those who are harming those families through their ongoing sin. Failure to erect solid boundaries of authority harms us as parents who need our energies applied where God has called them to be applied, to our spouses and children. Let the dead past bury its dead. And let those from our families who want to live lives of integrity, kindness and love have access to us. Those who harm us need to be left at a safe distance so God can do his work free of our complicating that. When there are no good boundaries in families, establishing them for the first time can be difficult. Old patterns are difficult to not repeat. We get drawn in so easily to the drama. It’s s daily, sometimes an hourly commitment to living in peace and walking in the joy of the Lord, and letting those who embrace sin face its isolating consequences. God is not the author of confusion, Satan is. Identify the culprit and his powerful deception using false guilt. Stand firm in the Lord and in His power over all the pride, insults and manipulation the enemy musters against us. God bless you and help all who need the encouragement.

  51. Ingrid, thank you so much for your words of encouragement and understanding, and most importantly your biblical explanation of allowing me to find peace within myself. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I must do what is right for my children, husband and myself. I have only shared briefly with you the hurt and pain of my family’s actions, the list is overwhelming, and I am glad that I have managed thus far to stay as strong as I have, although it has been so difficult. You have made me aware that it is ok to put these people at a safe distance, which unfortunately, we all live in the same little small town. It might be best that I move away from here, but I do not want to leave friends. It will all work out in the end. Thank you once again Ingrid and God Bless.

  52. Tennille and Ingrid,
    Thank you again for your words. I am beginning for the FIRST time in my life to get some peace and rest. As Tennille has written, the heartache and turmoil I have expereinced as caused much damage to my Godly marriage. My husband is an amazing,God-fearing man and the only person I felt has ever truly loved me. We have been married for 14 years and the drama with both of our families started on on wedding day, where our sisters were fighting each other on the church alter!!!! Needless to say their drama continued to our reception. What a day for us!!! I repeatedly tell my spouse we need a wedding renewal without our families. You see not only is my family toxic but some of my spouses family is, including his mother. We have gotten double trouble since day one of our marriage, fast forward 14 years later and they are still causing terrible pain and heartache. I am truly spent, emotionally, physically and mentally. I feel so worn-out, not much to give anyone else. Me and my husband are in ministy and I feel the enemy would love to take that as well. This “last’ episode around the holidays has pushed me into exhaustion, oppression/depression/heaviness, and despair. I want to move to a far away place, I want to run, but my husband says,”no.” You see ALL of my family lives in the same town that I do. I feel I have gotten no relief since my dysfunctional chilhood(I am 38 years old) now. I have blocked my phone. I feel like I am in a survival mode now.
    Now one of them has a baby and lives close by me. WOW!!! How that has been difficult. I no longer have any contact with the mom and baby because of the constant turmoil and chaos.
    Our families have caused us much grief and heartache. We just want some peace. Our families are consumed with toxic behavior including drug and alcohol addiction. We have tried to intervene, rehab, etc, but nothing worked. Now we are trying to rebuild our marriage after it has been torn down by years of turmoil and chaos. I really have not enough space to describe what we have been through, it has been horrific.
    Is it okay that I distance myself from them, even the one with the baby, so I can breathe and work on my marriage?

  53. Stephanie,
    Years ago I had a neighbor with a very happy marriage and a large family of children. She told me that when they were first married her husband had been in the military and they were shipped overseas for the first 3 years of their married life.

    She said, “I also come from a large family who all live within a close radius. As difficult as it was, she said, to start their family life away from all of their relatives, she told me she felt it was one of the foundation stones in their strong marriage. “We became close and were able to start our marriage without the (often well-meaning) pressure and complications of a large extended family in a close area.”

    I think she was 100% correct. Stephanie, it’s not only OK for you to distance yourself, you MUST do so. The most important thing in the world is building a strong marriage. Only you can retreat from the drama and say, enough is enough. The others are not your primary responsibility. Your husband is. I think that Satan works through confusion over boundaries and false guilt more than anything else. Because we DO care, and want to be pleasing to the Lord in our relationships, we can become confused as to how far we should go. What you describe is emotional and relational chaos being dragged into your marriage. Shut the door of your castle, change your number if necessary, and change emails if you have to. Make it clear that you will no longer be drawn into controversy, that you are needing time for healing and rest and time with your husband where you talk about something besides Dramas A, B and C.

    I’m not suggesting selfishness here. I’m saying that the survival of a marriage is your top priority before God. Pour yourself into loving your husband and make your home a safe haven where you can have joy and peace in this world gone mad. All of us need an emotional refuge, and God knows that.

    I like this line from the hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.” That hymn has become my life song as I have also sought peace from so much conflict outside.

    …Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
    Till all our strivings cease;
    Take from our souls the strain and stress,
    And let our ordered lives confess
    The beauty of Thy peace.

  54. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement. I am so thankful that when I prayed on Saturday morning for help,truth and wisdom my husband shortly after found this article. Your words have spoken truth to me that I believe is an answer to my prayer. I was so desperate to know that I was not a ‘bad’ person/Christian. I was in so much pain and anguish.
    Thank you for allowing God to use you as His vessel. I truly felt a ‘lifting” in my spirit after reading your post. I can not express to you enough how grateful that I am that you took the time to respond to me.
    Even though your not here in person, I believe you are a God-sent to me. The Lord is good. He saw me in my distress and anguish and gave me rest.

  55. Hi just got on here today. Very encouraging words from you Ingrid. God bless you. You are filled with Wisdom from on High. God is really using you to help and encourage and strengthen others.

    I really needed to read the article and all the posts today. I have been struggling with a younger sister, in fact my only sister, who is a drama queen and just has not stopped trying to emotionally manipulate me despite my confronting her about it. Yesterday she did it again. :(

    She told me that if she couldn’t come stay at our house she was going to have to go to a shelter. When I asked her how long she would be staying she wouldn’t answer me. She is very stressful to be around, has sensitivity to chemicals, many chemicals and then takes over the whole house.

    We had already been through this a few years ago with a mentally ill woman that was my friend that we allowed to stay with us for two weeks and it turned into 77 days and my hubby finally had to ask her to leave and find other lodging. She was stressful to be around also.

    We had just had our kids with us for 12 days visit from out of state when my sister was asking me this and we were already pooped out and recovering from their visit.

    Then she called my ill dad and vented to him and tattletaled on me to him to get him on her side to get him to call us and try to convince us to let her stay with us. First, she called my husband at work (bad idea) he was very busy. Then she called me on my cell phone and I foolishly picked up and she started in with her sob story. Was crying and saying she had nowhere else to go etc. etc. Not true because she could get in her car and drive back down to the city where my dad lives 2.5 hours away and her chemically sensitive friends there that she stays with off and on. She was up here visiting a friend and all of a sudden the plans fell through for her to stay with him. She said he was being “verbally abusive” and she was afraid of him. Well, I asked my dad “if he is as bad as she says he is why didn’t she call the police?”

    So, my dad sends me 3 voice mails guilttripping me about not letting her stay with us. She would be toxic to our marriage. My husband has enough stress at his job never mind the chaos and stress she would bring in. We both told her before a few months ago that she could not stay here with us. She begged, cajoled, pestered and thought she was being cute but she wasn’t. She is saved but I think she has narcisstic personality disorder or something because it is always about her all the time.

    Then she calls our daughter who lives in another state and dumps all her problems on her. Her dad called her and warned her about yesterday’s incident and to let her phone calls roll over to voice mail.

    Anyway, my hsuband and I are burned out with her. We had just given her a nice sendoff in my dad’s city before this happened because she is supposed to be moving to Hawaii soon. Well, her friend that lives there can’t take her in now for some reason. She will have to wait a bit. She was supposed to fly out of our city tomorrow April 20, 2012 but now that plan is scrapped and she will have to go back down to my dad’s city, rearrange her flight and fly out of there or come back up here directly to the airport here when it is God’s perfect timing.

    My sister has been acting like this since the fall of 1994 when she came down with the chemical sensitivities problem. It burned her husband out and he died young at 48 fall of 07. We have determined that we are not going to be the next victims and not going to replace him. We loved him and miss him dearly. He got cancer because of the stress, massive stress that had been ongoing for years because of her antics. Very sad. Sorry this is soooo long. I am now going to re-distance myself from her for my sake and my husband’s sake because the stress she causes affects our health. I always pray for her to be blessed and to come to her senses and into a closer walk with the Lord. I will continue to do so but she needs to hit rock bottom.

    Thanks for listening. God bless you. May God intervene supernaturally in all of your situations. He is able and He is the Healer. Sincerely, Annie Peoria, AZ

  56. I am so thankful that I have found this blog. I have a very toxic son-in-law who continues to be someone who verbal abuses my daughter and goes off on my grand kids too. For 15 years I have taken the “I’m sorry” from him just to keep the peace. He tries to change but it last about 2 weeks and he’s back to his old self. He never accept that the problems they have are at his feet. I felt as a christian I had to keep accepting his “I’m sorry” and support my daughter when she defends his actions. Yet the other night I had a phone call from my grand kids scared to death because he was flipping out yet again and the police had to be called out. Yet when the police arrived my daughter pulled the kids aside quickly to tell them when they talk to the police everything is fine now. Needless to say, he calmed down enough for the police and they went on their way. This man has caused me so much stress to a point of me getting ill. Finally, I just made up my mind that he would be no longer welcome in my house. My daughter and grand kids would be welcome. The fall out of this decision I started thinking as a christian maybe I was wrong to keep this toxic man away from me. We as christians are raised to love…forgive…but then I starting thing again, I may be helpless in changing things for my daughter, except to be supportive to her but I just can’t deal with him anymore and felt at least I had control of who comes into my house. Now my daughter thinks I’m a terrible Mom for setting this boundary and she almost had me giving in yet again. She brought up how I will be ruining the holidays for them and yet every holiday has been ruin by him getting upset about something. If being around toxic people make us sin with how we react I think God would want us to remove them out of our lives? The best I can do is to be there for my daughter, pray for her mental well-being and that one day she will know that I do love her and I’m doing this for my spiritually well-being. Thanks again Ingrid for your special insight. After reading everyone’s post I don’t feel so alone in my decision.

  57. Charlotte.
    This in an area where wise counsel and teaching is really lacking among Christians. As an example, in Scripture we are told to love, to be sacrificial in our love, to be long-suffering, patient, kind, etc. What many absolutely miss is that with abusive and narcissistic people, you can end up enabling and encouraging sin in their life when this is taken to mean an unconditional acceptance and tolerance of their sinful conduct.

    Here’s an example: A Christian wife has a verbally and emotionally abusive husband who professes to know Christ. He routinely uses his mouth and selfishness to verbally abuse her and emotionally manipulate her in clear violation of Scriptural commandments. This occurs frequently in front of the children who are watching and learning. He storms out of the house, roars off in his car after a tirade, leaving the wife and kids in tears. Four hours later, he returns and the wife greets him with a kiss on the mouth that abused her hours before. No repentance required, no apology, nothing. She is emotionally needy and, of course, wants to please the Lord. She believes what she is doing is biblical submission. Here’s what she actually accomplished:

    1. She trained her husband to believe as a professing believer that he can sin grossly against her with zero consequences, marking her in his mind as a willing punching bag for his undisciplined mouth and emotions when he is angry.

    2. She trained her children that emotionally and verbally abusing women or anyone else should be rewarded with unconditional affection and fellowship, something God does not do. (When we sin, we break fellowship, something we must learn.)

    3. She confirms sin in the life of her spouse and contributes to his soul’s destruction. She supports evil, despite the best intentions, and harms her own children with wrong teaching.

    Obeying Scripture means mutual submission in love. It means boundaries that protect not just us, but our little ones who are taking mental notes every day. We also allow wrong-doers a warning for their souls that sin has real, tangible consequences.

    It’s the same in situations such as yours. A man terrorizing his family and flipping out a meaningless apology is not repentance. People who accept meaningless apologies with zero expectation for change encourage sin and discourage repentance that leads to heart change. You did the right thing, and the Lord bless you. When we draw boundaries with abusive people, we should expect push back. We have to repeatedly enforce boundaries with the Lord’s help, knowing He sees all, knows our hearts and knows the very real physical consequences of limitless stress from these situations. In short, the situations can destroy your mental, physical and spiritual health if they are allowed to go on without a line drawn. So glad you stopped by the blog! God bless and help you.

  58. This is exactly what I needed to read. My mother has been mentally abusive to me for almost 22 years. I want to walk away from her as she is now trying to turn my 3 children against me. But I wanted to do it biblically. i have exhausted every effort to maintain a real and true relationship, but it has since ended. She told my daughter she hated me, wished I was never born and I was nothign but a screw up. My daughter is only 10 and this is not the type of lies I want my daughter to be around. A mothers love is supposed to always build up, believe in and boast. Thank you for giving me biblical advice to remember what is most important.

  59. Wow! Awesome piece!! It answers a question I have had for many, many years regarding abusive behaviour of others, & how to deal with it. Thank you so much for posting!!

  60. Excellent Post. I agreed with a lot of the things you said.
    I’m newly married to a pastors son. I was raised in a Christian home, where we went to church every Sunday. My husband had the same upbringing, but at the age of 9, his family decided to start a church and build the 3 children up to become the sole members of the worship team. My husband plays the drums.
    My husband and I recently got married, we have 2 kids and we decided to move forward with our life and leave his families church mainly because of the toxic leadership, who also happens to be my Father in law (pastor) and sister in law (worship pastor).
    It all started right after we got married. The hurtful words, the judgement, the way they belittled us. If we felt a certain way, they turned it around making us feel like we’re the ones in the wrong. Not taking responsibility for there hurtful, sinful behaviour, constantly pointing fingers blaming everyone else and making excuses for there actions. Everything was constantly blamed on us, we felt like we were always in the wrong. We’re not a strong Godly couple yet because we’re still growing spiritually together but his family would use that to there advantage because there pastors. I’ve been called many names by them, and they assume I’m not a Godly woman because I don’t open up to them which is because of there toxic behavior.
    My husband and I finally left the church today. Our last Sunday was discussed with his parents and was supposed to be in 2 weeks, but his dad told him to leave today and that they don’t need him anymore. His older sister was in the exact same situation in the past and has broken free from the guilt, fear and pain her family has caused her through spiritual abuse and toxic behaviour.
    Now they’re shunning us because we decided to move to another church and because my husband wants to worship and drum with other Christian people like his sister, who they feel bitter towards for leaving too.
    This behaviour IS DEFINETLY NOT OK and I believe we took a stand by sticking to our word and leaving. All we need to do it find a way to forgive them and grow closer to God.

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