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Are Your Holidays Toxic?

By Leslie Vernick

You wish it were true. You’d love to have a nice family gathering on Christmas, a day where people celebrated Jesus’ birth and treated one another with kindness and love. But that’s not your reality. Your holidays are filled with toxic and unhealthy people.

Maybe in your house people will be using it as a day to overindulge in alcohol, making them less kind or more aggressive. Or your holidays will be filled with you serving and giving while others are taking and complaining. Or maybe your spouse or adult children are generally mean spirited, critical, mocking, or completely indifferent towards you. Christmas isn’t any different than any other day of the year, but you keep hoping that this year will be different.

Knowing ahead of time that your holidays may be filled with toxicity gives you time to prepare to take care of yourself. Proverbs says, “Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.” Proverbs 2:12

How? If you knew ahead of time that you were heading into a toxic or unhealthy environment, what would you do to best protect yourself?

You might open the windows to let in some fresh air in. You might put on a protective suit or a mask, frequently wash your hands, or simply intentionally limit the time you stay in that environment. You don’t want to allow yourself to get infected with the other people’s toxicity and get sick.

In the same way, you can emotionally, mentally and spiritually prepare so that you will not be as negatively impacted. Here are a few things you can do.

Mentally: Stop taking someone’s treatment of you personally. How someone treats you says something about him or her, not you. Yes it hurts to have even a stranger be cruel towards you let alone a family member, but it reveals what’s going on in their heart not yours (Luke 6:45).

In addition, limit your exposure. If others are hostile or cruel, you can choose not to participate. You can stay home, leave early, not serve alcohol at your gathering, or not invite those people over. You are allowed to have boundaries, even on Christmas. If it’s your spouse, make other plans for yourself for part of the day instead of passively being a victim of spouse’s hostility. Get yourself a good novel to read, put your earphones on and head to your quiet place to get a break.

Emotionally: Accept the reality that you can’t control other people. Even Jesus could not control Judas or the Pharisees; not how they thought or felt about him or what they did. Observe rather than absorb the toxicity around you. Notice how unhealthy and deformed these people are (from the person God wants them to be) and don’t even know it. This may make you feel sad, but hopefully not as mad. Don't allow yourself to get provoked into reacting. When you start to feel yourself getting reactive, take a break to calm yourself down. Breathe, and leave if you need to.

Spiritually: If you’re a believer in Jesus, remember who you are in Christ. You are defined by Him, not by another fallible human being. You are a child of the most High God. You are a joint heir with Christ. You are seen by God as perfect, beautiful, and completely forgiven. Well before you attend your event, read Ephesians 6:10-18. Pray to God to help you be strong in Him and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God just like you would put on a HAZMAT suit if you were heading into a toxic environment. Consciously apply each piece. Picture yourself covered in grace and truth, protected by Almighty God against any and all lies and attacks from the evil one so that you can stand strong in the truth.

Remember, God did not intend his creation, including you, to thrive in toxic environments. It is not selfish to take good care of yourself; it is good stewardship of you.


The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

by Leslie Vernick

You can’t put it into words, but something is happening to you. Your stomach churns, your heart aches, and the tension in your marriage is making you feel weary and a little crazy. The constant criticism, disrespect, cruelty, deceit, and gross indifference are eroding your confidence and breaking your spirit.

For any woman caught in an emotionally destructive marriage, Leslie Vernick offers a personalized path forward. Based on decades of counseling experience, her intensely practical, biblical advice will show you how to establish boundaries and break free from emotional abuse.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winner of “Discovering Joy in Philippians” and “Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament” by Pam Farrel & Jean E. Jones, Karla Dornacher are Deb B. and Ruth N.



Upcoming Events

Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

March 26th and 27th 2020
Dallas, Texas

How Do I Stop Over-functioning?

Question: My adult daughter has moved back home after making a mess out of her life. I think I’ve enabled her to be too dependent on me and now she is acting like an angry teenager instead of a responsible adult. What can I do to help her now?

Answer: I hear this so often. Well-meaning parents have crippled their children by not teaching them how to stand on their own two feet. My definition of a good parent is that you work yourself out of your job. In other words, your kids don’t need you in order to function anymore. Click To Tweet

With that said, you can’t change your daughter. But you can identify and own your problem.

What is that? You have given too much. You’ve been too nice and that may be one reason she is not taking responsibility for her own life. Unfortunately, this kind of unhealthy relationship fosters a love/hate relationship between you and your child. She loves you and is dependent on you and hates you for always being right and having to “need” you.

To change this dynamic, you will need to figure out why you have been overindulgent with your child for so long. Are you afraid to say no? Are you anxious that if she doesn’t need you, she won’t have a relationship with you? Do you pity her and believe she can’t do it without you? This is an important step so that you don’t revert back to rescuing her when things get hard for her.

Here is What People are Saying About Empowered to Change.

I can’t say I no longer face the enemy’s attacks with fear BUT I’ve grown so much—I’m not the same woman I was two years ago.

I’m now able to call the wrong behavior wrong; I no longer offer excuses for his behavior. And my relationship with God is richer than before. He’s proven Himself so faithful with His gifts of courage and encouragement. I’ve spoken honestly with my husband in ways I never thought possible.

I highly encourage you to spend an E2C course with Leslie and gain some tools that will serve you well for a long time

~Jan Gilwin


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States