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When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People (Book Review)

Book Information

Title: When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People

Author: Gary Thomas

Publisher: Zondervan

ISBN:  0310346762

Book Review

              Gary Thomas’ When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People is nothing short of lifechanging. As a Christian, many of us have unintentionally believed a lie that walking away can be “not Christ-like”. Throughout the 240 pages of wisdom Thomas displays scripturally sound examples of not only when Jesus walked away but why it is important that we have the wisdom to know when to walk away. I loved the emphasis on how toxic people can often times be a distraction. At times, Thomas explains, we can even feel guilty because we are not able to help those toxic people into the kingdom of God. He so elegantly explains that sometimes staying within the toxicity is more selfish because it takes your energy and places it in the wrong place.

Throughout the book Gary Thomas goes through a variety of topics such as, Working With Judas, Toxic Parents, Kids, Marriages, and even how we can be toxic to ourselves. The Appendix is filled with 41 examples of scripture of when Jesus walked away from people who were toxic. Wisdom and experience is found through each chapter. Gary Thomas used his old ways of people pleasing as lessons to advance the Kingdom of God!

I cannot put enough emphasis on how EVERYONE needs to read this book. My life experience in this fallen world has given me plenty of experience with toxic people. This book gave me the wisdom of how to walk away when necessary and not feel guilty, knowing Jesus walked away at times because he was kingdom focused. A highlighter ran out by the time I finished this book. If you are someone who struggles with walking away from people because it feels “unchrist-like”, get a copy of When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People. I will be reading this again and again. There is too much wisdom to just read this book once.

Of course, this book has made it to my favorites shelf, and I give a 5/5 stars! Get yourself a copy! (No this is not sponsored; it is just that good!)

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God, You Are Greater Than My Feelings.

Last night I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of guilt. It was so heavy that my chest felt like it was caving in. The tightness began in my chest and soon my mind flooded with racing thoughts. I could barley breathe, I was crying, and to be frank with you even though what I felt in that moment seemed real. Looking back, what I was feeling was quite irrational. Anxiety is no joke. But ,anxiety is certainly NOT what God has intended for us. I eventually calmed down by sending my husband out of the room and praying to the Lord, meditating on scripture would have to say about my present circumstance. What Holy Spirit revealed this morning, however, would be another piece of the puzzle that would set me free.

Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. -1 John 3:20 NLT

Holy Spirit revealed that the anxiety attack I had yesterday was rooted in guilt. It was rooted in how I was feeling. The thoughts I was having soon became overwhelming to the point of a complete breakdown. There was no reason for this guilt. That is what did not make sense to me. Why did I feel the weight of guilt when I had not done anything to feel guilty about? I was surprised when Holy Spirit revealed what was in the next verse.

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. -1 John 3:21 NLT

As I said, there is no reason I should have felt an ounce of guilt yesterday. The feeling of guilt was sudden and soon became overwhelming. The feelings brought me to a FULL blown anxiety attack (key word here, ATTACK). Holy Spirit revealed the reason why the devil wanted to entrap us in guilt whether there is a reason for it or not. The devil does not want you or I to come with God in confidence. Our feelings should not be dictators of our life. When they are, we believe the attacks of satan rather than standing in faith against them. God has given us the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and not even the devil himself can hurt us (Luke 10:9)! The guilt I felt yesterday were to stop me from coming to God with confidence and bold requests through prayer. It was a direct attack from the spiritual realm. The enemy knows that when we come before God with unwavering faith and our expectation upon him, we can bring heaven to earth through what Holy Spirit leads us to pray.

In moments when you feel overwhelmed with emotions, remember 1 John 3:20.

God is GREATER than your feelings and HE KNOWS EVERYTHING. There is nothing that is hidden from God. He is the beginning and the end and everything in between. When your feelings start to overwhelm you, interrogate the thoughts you have been having. Do your thoughts line up with the truth of God’s Word? Are your feelings leading you closer to God or further away? Our feelings can cause us to increase in zeal spreading the good news like wildfire, help others understand they are not alone through weeping with those who weep, and even give us a deeper understanding of love. However, God designed us with feelings to bring us closer to him, not further apart. The guilt I felt was a liar and straight from hell itself. After all, even if I did do something wrong, Jesus died on the cross to say I am forgiven and justified.

Whatever you may be going through right now, understand God is with you, he hears you, and he understands the feeling you do not even understand. He desires you to be raw with him especially in times you do not understand what is going on. If I would have never asked where the guilt came from or it’s purpose, it would have not been revealed to me it was to stop me from coming boldly before God. I encourage you to be real about what you are feeling so Holy Spirit can give you his truth to hold onto.

Remember, God is greater than what you are feeling. Do not let you feelings dictate your path. God knows everything, he see’s everything, and in him all things were made. He is the perfect one to go to when you are unsure of what is going on. He not only gives you truth but his perspective. Be encouraged, even if things have been rough lately, God is your ever present help in time of trouble. Despite what things may feel hold onto what God is saying, speak what he is saying, and never forget to be real about what is really going on in that heart of yours. God will meet you there.

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How Real Heart Transformation Begins

If rules and regulations could transform hearts and make us clean, why would God send Jesus? I write this from a place of having felt that I am never good enough, clean enough, or holy enough. I write this from a place of vulnerability hoping that you know that you are not dealing with this alone. The truth is, without Jesus, we are not good enough. But when we get a revelation of who Jesus is and why God sent us him as the PERFECT sacrifice, we are given a new hope.

Maybe you are like me and deal with perfectionism, an unrealistic expectation of never making mistakes. In reality, it is our mistakes and our weaknesses that draw us closer to the Father’s heart. We cannot do this on our own, we need saving. We need saving from our own messes that we sometimes uintentionally or maybe even intentionally create. We need to be saved from perfectionism and not feeling good enough. We need a love that is not based upon what we do or don’t do.

We need Jesus.

When you get to know Jesus, you realize how true John 3:16 is. You begin to realize that this verse is weighty. Jesus came to die for both you and I when we had nothing to offer.

So why do we get caught up in the notion of doing rather than drawing close to God through who he is, love? I think that we unintentionally compare God’s love to an earthly love. That somehow what we do or don’t do will seperate us from the love of God. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember Romans 8?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NKJV

It is only after realizing how much God loves you that you stop performing and heart transformation begins. I am a firm believer that as a new creation a heart transformation must take place. But it is not through trying to hard you run ragged that we get there. It is through our new hope, Jesus Christ.

Let us join together remembering that nothing we do or don’t do will add or take away God’s love for us. We are new creations with a new identity. We are his masterpiece. He is the potter and we are the clay. While the process of being molded and refined can be quite painful at times, reflect on when Jesus came to save you. It wasn’t when you were put together and your outfit was just right. He loves us right in the middle of our mess and that is why his love is so profound and different than the rest.


God, I am sorry for the times that I thought your love was based upon what I do or don’t do. I thank you that it is through your love that I am drawn to repentance. I thank you for Jesus washing me clean as snow. Today I ask you Holy Spirit to stop performing and start surrendering every part of me to you. Thank you for loving me in my mess and making it a message for those to hear. In Jesus Name, Amen.

More Scripture To Meditate On:

  • Romans 8
  • John 3:16-17
  • John 14:6
  • Hebrews 10:14
  • Isaiah 54
  • Psalm 51