Have you ever spent a little "too much time" with a person...or persons...or family??? If you have, then I'll bet you totally understand what I mean by the term "toxic atmosphere." Where every breath is a struggle. Where, no matter what you do, you can't seem to escape the looming, poisonous cloud.
If you ask me how I know so much about this, I'll just tell you I have no idea what you're talking about.
BUT, I will tell you some survival tips for the next time you find yourself in this situation.
1. Never leave home without your oxygen mask. Oh, yeah. You own one. It's the collection of Scriptures with your name on them, that the Spirit has breathed on you in your times alone with Him. It's all those words of destiny spoken over you by trusted, faithful friends. It is knowing who you truly are - who God says you are.
2. Put your mask ON. It's one thing to own the mask. It's another thing entirely to put it on. When you go into a toxic situation, you MUST PUT YOUR MASK ON. Don't breathe in the toxic fumes, or you will be affected. Simple as that.
3. Lead with love. The best opener is always a gesture of love. The toxic parties may or may not receive it, but you have set the stage, nevertheless.
4. Pray for compassion and understanding. It can be SO hard to figure out what the issues are when dealing with toxic people. They don't even know what their issues are, believe me! So ask the Spirit to put compassion in your heart for them. Ask for insight so that you can communicate in a way they understand.
5. Laugh a lot. When things aren't going well, just laugh. Laugh about everything. Laugh at the ridiculosityness of the situation...and make up words that reflect it.
6. Set the boundaries. You don't have to let someone else's attitude, demeanor, way of doing things, negativity, lunacy or otherwise...get inside the boundaries you have made. The other person doesn't even have to know the boundary exists. But YOU do. You know where the line is and when to let certain comments fall to the wayside. When to ignore and when to address. You don't have to let someone keep hurting you or crossing the line.
7. See beyond. Keep your eyes focused on something greater. See the toxic person with spiritual eyes so that you can pray for them, encourage them and bring truth (lovingly, in secret code) into their reality. AND, you must see beyond your encounter in the toxic atmosphere. You need to look forward to something else so that you keep hope alive! Plan something else to look forward to before you even enter the situation!
You can't live in a toxic atmosphere. It will kill you. If you feel like your everyday existence is toxic, then you MUST make some changes. Ask the Holy Spirit what to do. Ask Him to shine light into your darkness. One word from the Lord is like a thousand lighthouse beacons in the dark night. Pray for clarity in your confusion. One whisper from the mouth of the Lord can silence all the other voices.
Dear, sweet one, you are too precious to your Father to settle for begging the crumbs at His table. Let Him lift you and set you in your rightful seat at the banquet. Stop accepting the lie that you're too far gone for Him to truly love you. He has a feast beyond your wildest imagination prepared just for you. He's calling you up out of the fumes and into the sweet fragrance of His presence. He is inviting you to come out of survival mode and into relaxing, joy-filled living mode.
Sometimes we must take a trip into toxic territory. Sometimes we can even find ourselves stuck there. Either way, it's not home. Jesus is inviting you to come back home. Say yes.
"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared with the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets they eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, MSG