Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Laying Down Your Life vs. Standing Up for Yourself

Even when most of real life looks like teaching adorable kids and having Korean adventures, life lessons come along.  Here's one I've been trying to figure out for about 6 months.  I'd love to hear comments, advice, and anything else you'd like to share.  I'm definitely not at the end of this.

You know how Christians are supposed to be all about grace?  We're supposed to forgive and allow healing and redemption to come and restore.  We're supposed to humble ourselves and put others' needs before our own, and we're supposed to esteem others above ourselves.  Selflessness is our aim.

On the other hand.  If someone's been hurt, I always encourage them to talk to the person who's offended them.  For one thing, understanding and reconciliation come from communication, and only then is there hope for change.  More importantly, through communication, the offender hears directly from the person they've hurt that it was wrong to treat them that way.  No one deserves to be treated wrongly, and no one should  think  that treated people wrongly is acceptable.  Conflict sucks, believe me I know, but sometimes it's the only process that will allow the wounds to heal properly.  If we let our gashes seal on their own, the scar is going to be ugly and who knows what infections will get inside.  If we take the necessary care and, sorry to sound church-y, but if we let Jesus stitch up our hearts, there will be less pain in the long run.

It has recently come to my attention that while I strongly believe all these points and I will shout them to anyone who will listen, I have the hardest time putting it all into practice.

 I'm afraid of man.  I'm afraid of offending and hurting people, even just a little bit.  I know that talking about the things that are important has potential to hurt sometimes, and I'm afraid of what someone will think about me if our relationship gets to that point.

I'm afraid of people thinking I'm not nice or not rational.  I'm afraid that they will think I'm being a melodramatic girl or some hypocrite who only helps people when it's convenient.  Aren't Christians supposed to be super-Jesus-kind?  Aren't they never supposed to say words that hurt?


This spring, I had inner conflict about one of my guy friends staying the night while my roommate was out.  I didn't want him to think I was being silly, but I knew that my gut wasn't at ease with this.  It was a huge step for me to listen to my gut and to act on it.

I found a mature, clear, and graceful way to explain myself, and my friend replied with equal grace and understanding.  My soul let out a huge sigh of relief.  He didn't think I was overreacting.  He was totally fine with staying at someone else's place.  And I could breathe easy again.

It seems that the key factor here was trust.  I trust my friend.  I know he cares about me.  I know he seeks to understand and to love people, and I know that he has always treated me with respect.  All of that came flooding to the front of my mind when I finally got my worries off of my chest and out in the open.  I'm fairly certain that I can take this same lesson to other similar situations with people who love me.

But what about other people?  What about others who don't love the same way and who don't seek to put others first?

Because, if you're the only one putting others first, then you're going to be taken advantage of and walked all over.  This has to be a two-way street.  Exceptions exist, but I know I can't live that way.  So, I'm learning to stand up for myself.  I'm trying.  And I'm trying to learn how to deal with what happens when the other half of my relationship sees me as a hypocrite.

I do know this:  Being a Christian does not mean I have to subject myself to uncomfortable situations and toxic relationships.  It is not my job to fix people's problems nor to help them run away from their problems.  It is okay to say "No."  In fact, I need to practice saying it.

My friend Scout pinned this photographer's article called "10 Ways to Say No to Clients."  Believe it or not, that article gave me a much needed kick.  (Thanks, Scout and Jesus!)  If it's so important to defend the value of your photography skills, the quality of your poetry, your tastes in music, or your career decisions, is it not more important to defend the value of your soul?

Jesus died so that I can be free from guilt, shame, unhealthy obligations, and all that other crap that I'm getting sick of.  If He died to make me free, can I not also say no to the junk that wants to drag me down?

So, for the freedom that has come for such a great price, I will stand up for myself.  I will be on Jesus' side.


  1. How do you write so consistently, for YEARS? What's your secret?

    Very interesting questions you have posed. Sorry I don't have any ideas as it's a little out of my element.

    Keep up the awesome work, as always.

  2. Hm... I really enjoy sharing stories, so I guess I'm always looking at my experiences through that filter. "What can I share? Would people want to read about this?"

    When I get ideas, I'll draft them out. I've got loads of drafts right now that need finishing, but I make sure to catch those ideas while I still have the desire to write about them.

    Finally, I try focus on one topic in a post. That keeps me from clumping many ideas together which also lets me spread the stories out into more posts.

    Those are my secrets! Take them if you like!

    And thank you, Matt. :)

  3. Hey! That's me!
    I really like this line: If He died to make me free, can I not also say no to the junk that wants to drag me down?
    Unfortunately for me, the things I need to say No to are my own insecurities and self doubts - to my own head always putting me down.
    Another thing! When someone needs something from you - your time, your listening ear, your advice, etc. - how do you know when you want to say "no" because you need to for your own sake and when you want to say "no" because you're feeling lazy and selfish? That's not something I'm struggling with now, but it definitely still confuses me.
    I'm not especially helpful, huh? :)

  4. Scout, just knowing I'm not along is help enough. Seriously.

    I know that my role model, Jesus, gave and gave when it came to time and listening and instruction, but He left His followers many times to take times for Himself. I sure don't know where the lines are, but I'm glad that there are lines, because those boundaries, when kept, keep us all safer and where we need to be.

    For example, if someone's looking to me when they should be looking to someone they're closer with or to God, it will hurt is both if she comes to me. Humans aren't meant to fill every hole of every human, you know?

    And that's just more rambling, but I think it's rambling in the right direction. :)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! If there is something you want me to respond to specifically, feel free to send me an email; I'd love to chat.