I don’t know about you, but some days I wish which way to load my toilet paper was the most difficult decision of my day! There’s a term for having to make too many decisions and having too many options with the result being compromised or irrational choices. It’s referred to as “decision fatigue”. Decision fatigue can become a silent enemy in our lives, especially in our personal relationships where word choices and responses are most important.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit…you choose. [Proverbs 18:21]
Words….they are powerful for good or evil. What leaves a mouth, rolls off a tongue, and is carried through the air or put in print can never be taken back. It can be apologized for…but never retracted.
What does one do with words? Are you a person who chooses their words carefully?
And what about cruel and hurtful words that are strung into a bow, aimed at your heart, and launched intentionally with bitterness and unforgiveness from a loved one’s hands?
Have you been there? I have. Have you been rendered speechless and emotionally numb as the onslaught of word arrows penetrated your heart and soul? Have you been overwhelmed with disbelief at the betrayal, rejection, and irrational unreasonableness? What do you do with all the emotional overload? How do you form a response? Should you even respond at all?
Words can be holy and life-giving or they can be evil bearers of death and destruction. You choose not only what comes out of your own mouth but how the words from others will affect you. YOU HAVE A CHOICE….ALWAYS!
You can choose to be a victim…. always blaming someone else…. never taking responsibility for your own actions….thinking “woe is me”, everyone’s against me….wallowing in self-pity…allowing other people’s hurtful words to have power over you…
You can choose to rise up….refuse to be a victim….avoid silly, pointless debates….choose to believe you are who Jesus says you are….make choices that are best for you and quietly live out your life.
Author Jennifer Dukes Lee, explains it like this…”I remember that I am not the sum of what anyone says about me–good or bad. So you can say nice things about me and it will make me smile, but your praise is not who I am. Or you can say bad things about me, and it will sting a little, but that’s not who I am either.”
There will always be broken people around us who want to stay broken. They may be our family members, co-workers, fellow church go-ers, neighbors, or friends. And because they want to stay broken…they will do everything they can to stop you from leaving the broken dysfunctional system and finding your way to health and healing. You may be the scapegoat they blame in order to deflect personal accountability. If you leave the system and get emotionally and spiritually healthy you will be a light that exposes their choice of brokenness and darkness. Darkness hates the light.
Have you ever heard of “crab mentality”? The following definition is from Wikipedia and is a good analogy for broken family/human systems.
Crab mentality, also known as crabs in a bucket (also barrel, basket, or pot) mentality, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you”. The metaphor refers to a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group’s collective demise.
The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, resentment, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.
How do we learn to guard our hearts? How do we get through our days when it feels like our guts are being ripped out? How do we stop the circular, going -nowhere-conversations?
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. [Proverbs 4:23]
First, you have to admit the system you are in is dysfunctional and broken, that people you love very much are wounded and broken. Most importantly, you have to come to terms with the reality that they may be choosing to remain in their dysfunction, even at the loss of relationship with you. I can tell you from personal experience that you will grieve deeply as you work your way through the realities of their choices.
Second, you are not responsible to convince them of the “error of their ways”. Their behavior will clearly tell you they don’t care what you think or how they are affecting you.
Third, the most powerful weapon you have in your arsenal of guarding your heart and your life is forgiveness. Forgiveness should never be a manipulation technique to “make them change”. It is a choice….your choice not based on the other person’s behavior. If you profess to be a follower of the Lord Jesus, forgiveness is an act of obedience. Your heart should so overflow with gratitude knowing that Jesus has forgiven your sins and released you into freedom that it splashes over onto others. Ephesians 4:32 says…..“Become kind toward one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as also God in Christ has forgiven you.”
Have you ever heard unforgiveness described as drinking poison and expecting the person you are angry with to die? That’s how irrational and dark a mind consumed with bitterness can become.
A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones. [Proverbs 14:30]
Holy Spirit empowered forgiveness is what releases you from the bitterness and toxicity of the broken dysfunctional system you have been a prisoner in.
It is what brings you
Forgiveness is not a magic spell that suddenly makes people like you or a magic wand that you wave over a long-standing dysfunctional system and it becomes perfect. It does not mean that you insert yourself back into unhealthy relationships. The people in your life are still responsible for themselves and how they relate to you. Forgiveness releases you! Their behavior is your barometer for what boundaries need to be put in place to guard your heart.
The final step is to take a good long look at yourself. You will want to be very, very honest. In humility stand before the Lord allowing Him to reveal your weaknesses and failings. He already knows you through and through, loves you dearly, and His greatest desire is to heal you from the inside out. [Psalm 51]
He is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds. [Psalm 147:3]
I pray you let Him love you and restore your broken heart.