With the first day of spring this month, I thought why not look at a series for spring cleaning but one that helps your relationships!?! Check out the rest of the posts to clean out, clear out, and dust off to your relationship skills this spring. And come back next week for one we can all use —March 28 – Maximizing as a Minimalist – How to Let Go For Real This Time.
Dear Reader what if you knew of a way to change those toxic relationships, would you use it? Maybe the relationship isn’t toxic yet, but it’s feeling sticky. Well putting this idea into practice can not only remove the stickiness but also turn things around to ditch the toxicity too!
Why is this even important? Because you are worth it!
You are valuable and your voice is needed in this world. So if any form of toxicity is getting in the way of you believing that and living life well, it’s time to ditch the toxicity and dust off the grace. This idea of a space for grace may not be new, in fact it might even sound a bit old-fashioned to some, but it’s entirely effective. This old fashioned idea of establishing a “grace-space” can revolutionize your relationships.
Ditching the toxicity is all around us these days. I’ve been working hard to trade one area of toxin in our home for a healthier alternative. For example, the last couple of months I traded in our old choice of cleaners for the new option without all the gunky ingredients. The next round is getting rid of all plastic leftovers containers! Just as we ditch the toxins in our environments, it’s equally important to ditch the toxins in our relationships.
How do you know if a relationship is toxic?
If you or another person in your life exhibits these characteristics, then it’s time to do some self reflection, seek help, and establish a grace-space if the relationship is safe enough to stay. Here are a few characteristics of unsafe relationships that grow into toxic relationships:
- Blaming others and refusing to change
- Lying or using deception
- Manipulation of emotions, either yours or theirs
- Demanding trust and then acting hurt if trust isn’t immediately given
- Flattery is king instead of humility and honesty
- Lack of empathy for others needs or hurts
- Ignoring own responsibilities
- A pattern of apologies with no action of change or repentance
- Projecting own flaws and fears onto others
- Being defensive and unwilling to take responsibility for own actions or words
- A pattern of threatening to break up or to stop caring
- Being addicted to anything that pulls away from healthy relationships
- Not having the other persons back but instead shaming the other person
- Inconsistent or hurtful communication of any form (verbal/text/etc.)
- No room to grow and no space to have other friends
- Any kind of abuse (physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, or spiritual)
A relationship can feel unsafe at times if we have our own hurts or wounds that are triggered. But that same relationship can actually be healthy if it consistently fulfills those 3 things we talked about in previous blogs. When a relationship begins to be unsafe consistently is when it verges into being sticky (like you can’t pull away and be yourself ) and then toxic (when it begins to make you sick physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Sometimes toxicity takes time to develop, other times the abuse begins immediately. If you are in a relationship right now where you are unsafe or are being abused, you don’t have to stay. Please call the Focus On the Family Hotline 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or locally call SafePlace Austin 512-267-SAFE (7233) or text 737-888-7233 or go online at www.safeaustin.org to chat safely.
The abundance of toxins in our lives these days could easily be attributed to our current culture and technology. While that is partially true, being toxin free is “as old as the hills” (as my grandpa used to say). What else is equally as old is this idea that helps with staying relationally toxin free – establishing a grace-space.
Is the idea of a space for grace old-fashioned to you, routine for you, or intriguing to you?
Establishing a grace-space is an idea that will revolutionize your relationships because it’s good and simple. That means there are no complex methods to apply, it doesn’t take any exceptional brilliance to learn, and it is entirely effective. In fact you were originally born with this idea of a grace-space wired into you, it just might not have ever been shined up, brought off the shelf, or encouraged but each human is born with a space for grace. So when I say you can dust off the grace, it’s there within you, it just needs to be dusted off.
What does a “grace-space” look like?
- It’s the opposite of karma.
- it’s a space where we feel free to continue to grow
- it’s a space where we feel free to make mistakes
- it’s a space where there is forgiveness
- it’s a space that is much-needed in our world that is based on merit and asset-based judgment.
- It’s a space we have all been created with and wired for
In practice a grace-space looks like allowing those around you to be hangry, cranky, tired, and make mistakes but not to call them by their mistakes or to hold those mistakes back and bring them up later. It also feels like when you are in an argument that you don’t assume you know what the other person means or is trying to say, but you ask questions to clarify and seek to understand. Another example is that in day to day life a grace-space allows you treat yourself kindly with compassion and pause to reflect so that you understand what’s going on in your mind, heart, and soul. Internally when you also give yourself a grace-space you develop a deeper sense of respect and value which allows you to know when someone else is not able to give, or not actually giving, you grace in your relationship with them. Once you establish a grace space you begin to feel that deep place say “yes!” because you were designed for receiving and giving grace.
The word grace can sound a bit feminine or not so strong, but only until you know what grace really is and what it really does. Grace is unmerited favor, unconditional love, and unrelenting care. That means we didn’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, we can’t buy it, we need it desperately, we are wired for it, and it fights for us. It also means we can give it just as we have received it and that it is ours to keep as it is ongoing. Is grace just for the feminine relationships? No! Grace is fierce in friendship and protective for all people.
While everyone needs grace, it’s really not just about us. Grace reveals an essential highlight of God’s character. Grace shows us God’s valuing of us. In his grace God can come to be with us, can redeem us from our actions of selling our souls and our resources to un-Godly ventures called sin, and can empower us to love as he loves us. Without grace and without God’s son, Jesus Christ, we are guilty of selling out and breaking the holy life we were designed to live thereby according to Gods law guilty of judgment and punishment eternally. But then came grace. With God, through faith in Jesus, we become saved from our ungodly living, we have victory over this sin, we have the strength as overcomers, and we have the wisdom to love others well too.
We can establish a grace-space for our relationships because one has been established for us.
I write these blogs from a place where I’ve messed up (a lot) and have been so very grateful for grace. That place includes the love I’ve sought and found in God through his son Jesus. Maybe you aren’t in a place where a relationship with God is on the radar, but this idea of a grace-space sounds awesome for your relationships with others. If that’s the case, then I encourage you to consider being willing to be willing to ask God to reveal himself and his grace to you as you establish the grace-space. As you do so, I promise you will come to see more of the true Father, Warrior, Savior, Healer, and more that God says he is for you, for all of us.
As spring begins for us this month, I pray you will take time to intentionally ditch the toxicity in yourself and your relationships and to dust off the grace to establish a grace-space!
- Did a current conversation or a certain someone pop into mind as you read this blog?
- Where do you want to try establishing a grace-space?
- Is there a relationship or a level of toxicity that’s just a bit too much these days? Who is a trusted someone you can chat with about it?
If you are in a relationship right now where you are unsafe or are being abused, you don’t have to stay. Please call the Focus On the Family Hotline 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or locally call SafePlace Austin 512-267-SAFE (7233) or text 737-888-7233 or go online at www.safeaustin.org to chat safely.
We were never designed to go through life alone, but life and adulting can make it begin to feel like that! Don’t let it stay that way! Get back to the important things of building healthy relationships and being a healthy, safe, good friend to those in your life! Together we can make a difference in bringing about healthy, safe, good growing relationships!
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She directs a counseling center in Austin, Texas and with husband David Lawrence co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com or www.renue.me
**Currently IN NETWORK with Blue Cross and Humana. Also accepting all other OUT OF NETWORK providers.**
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