I struggled with a relationship that had seemed promising but was reshaping itself into a burden. I met this sister in Christ online, and we began to share our backgrounds and selves as women do. We have much in common on both the plus and minus side. The plus side is that we are both not only survivors but victors from extreme abuse. The negative side is that we are both strong personalities and need to be vigilant about tendencies to overstep boundaries that need to be respected and honored.
This gal had been pushing me and using various manipulative tactics (we counselors are very aware of those!) to get me to reveal something I did not feel safe revealing. Each time she asked, I countered with my feelings about her asking and requested that she respect my feelings. Then, she crossed over the proverbial line and attempted to use the ultimate manipulation tool that a believer can experience: she questioned the validity and health of my relationship with God because I wouldn’t share something private with her. That did it! I wrote her an email that would be my last stating that Pastor G and I have been accountable to each other and to God for all things physical and spiritual and did not need her to judge my spiritual life.
The point is, others are not in any position to judge someone else’s relationship with God unless God clearly reveals it to them. Pastor G and I are spirit-led, and we knew without a doubt that this woman was acting on her own power and not God’s. How did we know? Well, one thing was clear: there was no Godly love in her messages, and there was much manipulation. Another thing that clued us in was knowing that we knew that we knew. That’s deeper than any physical understanding can be. God lets us know what we need to know.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
It’s important for all to seek real, spiritually loving and supportive relationships. I know I don’t need the negative in my life, and I know I do need ones that comfort and encourage me not only in my daily life but in my walk with God. I need and cherish real friends that care about my needs and respect my boundaries. They don’t have to agree with me, but they do need to let me be me just as I want to let them be who they are.
How about you? Have you been on either side of this story? If you were the one being attacked and accused, did you set a boundary? Was it respected? If not, what did you do?
Part of God’s law of love regards the self. God wants us to love ourselves just like we would love others.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Sometimes loving the self is letting go of destructive relationships that did not begin that way even when it initially hurts to do so. That’s today’s encouraging word.
copyright 2014, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved