I’ve always been a peacemaker personality. I’m pretty forgiving and pretty compassionate, and I usually try to give other people the benefit of the doubt. I have always been a “good girl.” I’ve never really gone through a rebellious stage and I always did well in school.
Though I enjoy doing nice things for people, I tear up about stories of kindness, I try to listen to other people’s viewpoints and speak gently, and my spirituality is very important to me- it became apparent that fear was masquerading itself in my life as if it were just sweetness.
Growing up, I remember my mom saying to me she was a little concerned about my not standing up for myself. She recounted that as a toddler, if another child ripped a toy out of my hands I would just go on and play with something else, and not cry like most children would. So apparently this non-confrontational, peace-making personality trait goes back a ways.
I don’t know exactly how, but somehow in my life, I picked up the notion that direct confrontation with people is rude. It’s much more polite to either indirectly imply your discontent about how someone has treated you (even though nobody ever seems to pick up on those hints) or just be silently frustrated until you can get over it on your own. If you get angry, it’s better to keep it in so as not to offend the offender and make the situation worse.
On top of that, as a Christian, I would tell myself, “If I just keep showing love to this person, who is treating me badly, eventually they will recognize how loving I am being and they will change their behavior.” I was convinced I was doing the right thing- even thinking of scriptures like “turn the other cheek” and “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” I would think of the love chapter in Corinthians that says love is patient and love is kind and love does not hold a record of wrongs. So I applied that to my life by patiently waiting out someone’s selfishness and manipulation, by continuing to be kind to them despite it, and continuing to keep forgiving them and make excuses for them 70 x 7.
Unfortunately, that did not work out well for me. Over the years I have had more and more body pains and I noticed I was repeating the same scenarios with a series of toxic friendships. I would give and give and the other person would take. And all that time I would be praying for these people, “Lord, heal the heart of this person. Reveal yourself to them, show them your love, heal the broken places, and help me to be a good representative of your love to them.” But nothing was changing! And I noticed that all these people would go on their merry way continuing their bad behavior and somehow I was the one who was suffering!
And finally, (and recently) I reached my breaking point. Everyone has a breaking point and that is a good thing! Just like they say that an addicted person is either going to die, go crazy or make a decision to change and go to rehab- I finally hit that same point and I said, “I am either going to die because the continual hurt is manifesting itself in my body, or I’m gonna go crazy, or I’m gonna change something. I’ve been trying to protect other people and be continually kind to the point of not protecting myself or being kind to myself. Who is looking out for me?”
I have always stuggled with having a backbone. But after a straw that broke the camel’s back, suddenly I have one! It took many years, but I got there! But all of a sudden, I am not afraid to say what’s true. I almost want to climb up on my roof with a loud speaker and say, “Listen up, world! This is who I am, this is what I believe in and this is how I live. If you have anything to say about it-or you have a list of criticisms for me, or if you plan to manipulate or use me- prepare yourself for a confrontation because I am not afraid of what you think or how you react anymore! God is my judge!”
Maybe that’s why older people often just say it like it is- because, honestly, you learn you have more to lose in holding everything in than in saying what is true! And it doesn’t help the person who is being abusive for you to go around pretending like they don’t have a problem. That really isn’t the loving thing because an abusive person has something inside of them that is hurting them- and if never dealt with, is going to ruin their life. They need to come to their own breaking point- and you letting them be a little isolated may help them get there.
As for being a Christian: Scriptures can be pulled out of context one by one, but you have to look at the whole picture and within the context that you have a relationship with God. He can lead you from moment to moment on what to do. If pulling one scripture out leaves you condemned and free to be abused, you can bet the interpretation is wrong because God is not into making you feel like a worthless worm. The enemy is into making you feel that way.
Yes, the scripture does say to forgive 70 x 7 and it does say turn the other cheek. But it also says, if a brother is overtaken in a fault to confront them in meekness, and at the same time, consider yourself so you don’t fall into the same temptation. That’s not pointing out splinters in someone’s eye when you have a beam in your own but that is getting splinters out of both of your eyes in a humble way. And if that person is not willing to deal with the splinter, then you can leave them. Maybe you can turn your other cheek in the opposite direction, and start heading that way, lol.
We have to love ourselves enough to not let other people pull us into a hole with them. You can say, “I love you, but I also love myself and I have to back away from this situation.”
I am not planning on changing that I’m a peace-maker. I still care about people very much. I still like to do kind things. I still pray for people when they don’t know it and I’ll still try to view people from a place of compassion. But I’m learning that showing true love means having His love for youself first- cause you can’t give what you don’t have. We are supposed to be changing into His likeness and He is not letting Himself be abused. He will judge evil. And the fact is, He loves you even if everyone on earth acts like you’re worth nothing. We have to get our confidence from Him because the world doesn’t have true love to offer. They can’t give what they don’t have either.
But I pray this for myself and for you that we are able to stop and ask God to show us His love for us. Help us to be filled up so we can give out the true Love that the world needs. They really will be changed by True Love and not by any substitute. I ask Him to heal all of our broken places and disappointments and frustrations and replace them with hope for our futures and peace and joy, In Jesus’ name, Amen! (303)