Love should come with a warning label…is it healthy or toxic?

Love should come with a warning label…is it healthy or toxic?

Love should come with a warning label…is it healthy or toxic?

Love is the most compelling force in the universe.  It has the power to nourish and sustain; it has the strength to soothe, comfort, and even heal.  Love is the stuff of miracles.

But love should come with a warning label; used inappropriately, love is toxic.  Toxic love has the power to destroy instead of build.  It can be the rocket fuel that helps you soar – or the fuel that explodes and burns your house down.

What’s the difference between healthy love and toxic love? 

Two factors determine whether love is life-giving or life-draining:

  • The motivation of the lover
  • The source of the love  (organic or GMO)

The motivation of healthy love is you and your good, not me and my good.  Healthy love is the way I meet your needs – for protection, affirmation, correction, trust, and security. ( Because healthy love is about you – it’s very important for you to trust me.  Without trust, you won’t receive my love, no matter how much love I have to give you.

Healthy love is calcium for your bones and protein for your muscles; it’s all the good stuff you need to grow into who I already know you to be.  It’s the fence around the backyard; it’s a curfew.  It’s a shoulder to cry on, and the hand on your bicycle seat that helps you keep your balance.

The primary motivation of toxic love is me – not you.  It’s not the way I meet your needs; it’s the way you meet mine.  I need you to help establish my well being; performance is more important than being real.

Toxic love is manipulation.  It’s the attention that comes only after you make good grades, or get the promotion and pay raise, or lose weight. Toxic love makes you prove yourself – over and over again.

Toxic love doesn’t build a fence and doesn’t like to set boundaries – because if you’re happy with me, then I feel good about myself.  Toxic love gives in when you pitch a fit.  Because toxic love is about me – it’s very important for you to like me.  Trust is optional.

The source of healthy love is God; it’s not surprising that the love that’s good for us is the organic kind.  Any other source of love is the GMO kind; no matter how good it tastes – the nutritional components are missing and the extra ingredients are deadly in the long run.

Consider unconditional love.  It’s just not human.  I want revenge, not restoration.  I want to hurt you, not forgive you.  I want to win, not help you win.  If there are any feet getting washed around here, I want them to be mine.  Without divine intervention, I can’t love you the way you need to be loved.img_1827

But God.  He exists to love us.  He knows His love can restore – and then revenge will seem like a dumb idea.  He knows we’re going to struggle and need help – and he never charges for His strength.  When we screw things up completely – His forgiveness is ours just because we ask.  He’s washing our feet – and our hearts.  He calls this “grace.”

And He gives us this love in so much abundance it can’t help but pour out of us, too.  As we play with giving this love away, we learn its amazing properties.  Now we can bring beauty from ashes, too.  Now we get to watch dry bones come to life.  No longer a slave to fear, we get to show others the way to freedom, too – if they trust us.

Science is proving the power of healthy love – and the devastating effects of toxic love.  Read more about this research by Dr. Caroline Leaf on the GOOD STUFF page of this website.  http:///

Please comment and share your story to inspire others; how has real love changed your life?

  • Arielle Lewis

    This is beautiful, hard truth. Thank you for this wisdom today.

    • Janet

      Hard – I agree…but it’s the strong kind of hard that can be trusted. Love you friend!

  • Janet,

    The wisdom, hope and truth you are sharing is changing lives. Keep it up, my friend. As an elementary level, homeschooling and adult educator, I can think of no better resource on the Internet than your web page, here. It helps us to address the mind, body and spirit of the learner and that is one of my life long goals as a teacher. Thank you, Janet, for being faithful to the hard work and challenges that eventually lead to ones destiny. You, my friend, are LIVING IT!

    • Janet

      so humbling…this affirmation from such a trusted source – and so much hope and joy from your response. Thank you Wayne – so good to be in a community of grace with you.

  • Jason Davis

    Janet I wrote this describing Counterfeit love

    Counterfeit love:

    “An attempt to relate to or love others out of an unhealed posture”

    Your love is counterfeit when your unconscious motivation is deeply rooted in your fear of rejection.

    Your love is counterfeit when saying “NO” to others causes you intense emotional pain resulting in guilt and shame.

    Your love is counterfeit when your desire to please others is a mask for approval, perfectionism, criticism.

    Your love is counterfeit when you constantly notice the short comings, failures, deficiencies in others and pride yourself on your successes, moral accomplishments and your own goodness.

    Your love is counterfeit when serving others is about how it benefits you, makes you look or makes you feel.

    Your love is counterfeit when you constantly weigh its cost, control whose it’s recipients or measure it’s results.

    The list goes on…

    If you grew up with any type of trauma, abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect, alcoholism, FEAR then you have been conditioned to give counterfeit love… Thus always my push for healing and counseling in our churches!

    My personal story is full of counterfeit love and my journey of healing has been long and arduous. However it’s all worth it! To relate to others out of a healed posture produces nothing short of what God intended.

    • Janet

      Wow – thank you Jason. Thank you for your vulnerability and for your gift of words. These words “…then you have been conditioned to give counterfeit love…” -like a heavy door – that only healing love can open. I’d love to share your words with my students – with your permission? I’m humbled to be journeying with you new friend.

      • Jason Davis

        Absolutely! You always have permission to share… Thank you Janet for sharing your gift of writing and love for others!

  • Donna Eckert

    Beautiful, truth, good, hard but loving. Description of grace. A reminder to ask ourselves what is the motivation of our heart and our desperate need for Jesus. I will mediate and think upon this for awhile. Love to you friend.

  • Rachel

    More than anything for me, safe, trusted people have been what helps along my healing. I’m very thankful for the safe people God has brought me along the way, the Newberrys included! Love y’all!

  • Janet Newberry

    Rachel – you are so loved! Yes, love heals. What a brilliant plan…God is a genius! It’s such an honor to watch you blossom into who you really already are!