My 2 little dogs are such amazing teaching tools and examples. I truly believe God gifted me these 2 specific dogs to teach me so many lessons about life in general. Just by watching there behavior and interactions I have been able to better describe so many thoughts and ideas swimming around in my head.
When both dogs are outside my dog Itsy likes to sun bath. She will find a spot of sunshine and lay down peacefully enjoying her time. Now Coco he does no such thing. He pesters her, try’s to play with her, disturbs her peacefulness and is known to grab a hold of her back leg and literally drag her. She looks around helplessly for a savior and if I do not stop the process Coco will just continue his unkind behavior. Itsy wants no part in this but yet she has no choice. She cannot leave. She is stuck.
One of the most difficult things to watch in others is for them to be trapped in a toxic relationship and not leave. It is easy for us from the outside to say why won’t you just walk away? But walking away is often complex and there are sometimes very good reasons why people do not walk away. I would like to address some of those issues.
1. People do not walk away because they love the person or others inside the situation and are holding on to the promise that God is fully capable of healing, changing and restoring the situation. They feel “called” to stay in the relationship even though it is bringing them harm. Basically there reason for staying is due to religious belief. They are willing the sacrifice themselves for others.
2. People are trapped by finances, children, inability to support themselves independently or fear of real or perceived consequences of leaving. This list could go on and on but basically these a the real or perceived barriers for someone to making the decision to leave the relationship.
The reason I break these things into these 2 particular categories is that the issue behind category 1 is a theological issue. Whereas the issue behind category 2 is a codependence/ faith/ body of Christ issue. Thus they must be address very differently. I also believe that it is important for outsiders who are trying to intervene on the situation to distinguish between the 2 categories. False identification may lead to further isolating, wounding and harming the individual you are trying to help.
For people in category 1 all we can do is provide prayer/emotional support and be ready to help them if they feel like God changes there calling and they are ready to leave. Kind of like extracting someone from the mission field. We can continue to remind them that Jesus has already provided the ultimate sacrifice and God cares about their personal well being.
For category 2 you need to identify what the berries are for them leaving and I believe it is through the body of Christ coming along side the person that someone will gain the faith and confidence to make the step to leave. They are going to need a place of safety and protection in order to heal and allow God to restore them. Failure to provide a safe environment will lead to further wounding of the person or them returning to there previous unhealthy situation because they have no alternative. It takes a tremendous act of faith for the person to leave in the first place thus the body of Christ needs to extend their arms.
Walking away is so much harder than people realize. Let’s give people grace for someone who has been in a toxic situation is going to need grace and healing in an abundance. Amen.