Here are some draft notes from part 1 of a message we preached at Grace Bible Chapel (ggcphila.org) on Toxic Relationships.
Proverbs 14.1 is a tell tale verse describing healthy relationships and toxic ones. "the wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands"
People; women or men, who suffer a poor self image and hold a low value of their own soul can attract toxic personalities that are either controlling, manipulative, con-artists, betrayers, fault-finders, prying, narcissistic, abusive, promise breakers, accusative, possessive, dangerous, angry, religiously cultic, jealous, manic, deceptive, & that will continually tear down. These people will convince a needy person that has low-confidence in themselves that everything is their fault in the dis-functionalities of the relationship. Toxic people steal people's life energy and eventually their lives and their uniqueness in who they are in God's eyes. Toxic people may actually prey on needy men or women that are hungry for love & acceptance.
The truth of God's love is the most vital nutrition of the soul, The human soul feeds on this love and this love is like sunshine that makes the soul bloom in God's wonderful plan and grace. Needy people that are not filled with the fullness of God's love, truth and purpose, are people that are hungry, they are searching for meaningful relationships on the interent, at work, at school, in church; that will feed their deficit for love. But they will go from relationship to relationship seeking for what they will never find: eternal unconditional love only found in God. This is what we call deficit motivation in relationship. Deficit motivation produces co-dependence in a relationship that is not healthy, and the relationship becomes an end in it self. This is a cursed relationship that will never experience satisfaction and promote individual growth and joy.
A mal-nutritioned soul starving for love may not actually believe that they are worthy of a healthy relationship because of resident guilt and they may remain in a poisonous relationship believing that that is actually what they deserve. Even if they understand the toxicity of the relationship, they may lack the courage to break free of it or get counsel. This is bondage. It's a soul based relationship conscious only of itself and what it wants, nothing in consideration of the other. It is a "serve me relationship" and not a "let me serve you love". There is no spiritual content in the relationship and that ends in the downward spiral of the relationship into self- destruction.
Just as Proverbs 14.1 describes, a toxic person (in this case in the verse we see it is a woman) is a person that tears down anything that has value in their life and is not interested in building anything eternal and lasting in God's eyes in the relationship. That is because the toxic person is themselves be-shelved in their soul.
Signs of a toxic relationship:
1. Co-dependence to the point of the loss of personal individuality & freedom in Christ
2. Manipulation with guilt and emotional tantrums
3. Abusive, negative words that persistently tear down
4. No selflessness, but rather an ego-centric or narcissistic orientation in communication & behavior.
5. Insincere behavior - lying, stealing, betrayal, and promise-breaking.
6. Jealousy that manifests itself in continual prying; "where were you?" "who were you with?". Also invading personal property or information.
7. Over sensitivity due to unhealed wounds festering in the soul.
8. Unwillingness to allow freedom to be who someone is in the church or among friends & family.
9. A forced withdrawal from the church, family, friends, with the accusation "you don't love me"
10. A continual downward depression of low self-esteem, hopelessness, and feeling smothered & trapped.
A healthy relationship is one we see illustrated through Christ who is the best lover of your soul because He was the creator of it. He laid his life down to the shedding of His own Blood in obedience to His Father's love - Philippians 2 is a classic chapter on a healthy relationship between the Father and His only son and between each other in the church. The church is to be the place where an environment is provided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of Grace for people to courageously discover who they are in Christ as a new creation and what God's gifted them to do in their high and holy calling.
- P.Christian Moore