This is the 14th post of a series. I started out telling a chronological story, but got derailed before I could get past August of 2012. I’ve addressed the derailing tangent to death. My intention with this post was to get back on topic, but it appears I’m not quite ready to do that. (If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.)
For a week.
Four previous drafts of the post I was trying to write sit abandoned. Because of this warped logic:
“post hoc ergo proptor hoc“
I know what you’re saying. “hhhhhhh. What is she talking about now?”
It means “after this, therefore because of this”
Surprisingly, I didn’t read it in a book. My husband actually pulled it out of his freakish memory from an episode of The West Wing.
“post hoc ergo proptor hoc“
The reason for my paralysis. This knot in my gut, sick to my stomach paralysis.
(what follows is the culmination of a much longer conversation)
Me: I’m terrified of saying something that will lead to someone turning their back on God. I’m terrified of saying something that will lead someone to say “oh, YEAH. THAT’S a God I want to know.”
FirstHusband: “I’m not going to tell you not to be discouraged. I’m telling you to push through it.”
Me: I just don’t want to cause harm.
FirstHusand: “Do you think there’s anything you can say or do to cause someone to convert to Christ?”
pregnant pause. We both know where he’s going with that question.
Me: “It’s not the same. People HAVE turned their back on God because of something someone has said to them.”
FirstHusband: “Have they really?”
Me: What are you saying?
(then there was a discussion about someone we know who turned their back on God and cites as the reason something one person said to them 15 years before.)
FirstHusband: “Did that one comment really keep them from God all these years?”
Me: “You’re saying the comment is a scapegoat.”
FirstHusband: “I’m saying that if there’s nothing you can say or do to CONVERT someone to Christ, there’s nothing you can say or do to PREVENT someone from coming to Christ. Your job is to..”
Me, interrupting: “be a witness.”
“ It is essential that you give people the opportunity to act on the truth of God. The responsibility must be left with the individual—you cannot act for him…Refusing to act leaves a person paralyzed, exactly where he was previously. But once he acts, he is never the same…The dominating power of the world, the flesh, and the devil is now paralyzed; not by your act, but because your act has joined you to God and tapped you in to His redemptive power.”
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
This is the 14th post of a series. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.
This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.
When I attended Baptist churches “back in the day,” I was expected to go “Visiting.” That meant participating in some very intentional and formulaic evangelism. Church members would gather at the church at an appointed time and then go “visit” people. Sometimes invited, sometimes just expected and sometimes the visits were “cold calls.” In every case, the circumstance was the same. The Visitors (always in pairs) were expected to show up at the home of someone they had never met, knock on the door and talk to them about Jesus.
My view on that?
Creepy. “oh great, the Christian stalkers know where I live, pull the curtains, turn off the TV and the lights and everybody be totally QUIET till they go away” creepy.
or is that just me?
Surprisingly, more often than not, The Visitors reported that people responded graciously, even when they said “no. I actually do NOT want to talk about Jesus” and “no, you definitely can NOT come in.”
In spite of my personal aversion to Visiting, I actually believe there are ZERO limitations for how people come to Jesus. I’ve heard stories about people coming to Christ through visiting, street evangelism, Christian tracts left in a public restroom, billboards, songs, bumper stickers…you name it. I agree with author and theologian Steve Harper when he said:
“Every form of evangelism works for some people.”
But the fact is, those things don’t draw people to Christ. Only God can do that.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
I believe God can use anything and anybody to draw people to Himself.
I’m the one who places limitations on what God can do. Both back in the day AND today.
Never did it.
And at one of those churches I was the music minister’s wife.
The music minister’s stubborn wife.
I used to say that evangelism wasn’t my spiritual gift.
But I knew the truth then and I know it now. I don’t like “Visiting.” Especially cold-call visiting.
So while I don’t decide what God can and canNOT use to draw someone to Christ, it appears I do decide how I myself will be open to being used by the Holy Spirit.
Knowing that about myself, does that mean that given a chance, I would choose to go “Visiting?”
If another Christian told me that all Christians “should” go Visiting, would I go?
If God prompted me to go Visiting, would I go?
I know me. and I’ve read the “yeah, but” conversation Moses had with God when God told him to do something he didn’t want to do. I would explain to God that those types of encounters are not my forte. I would remind God that I myself find that type of evangelism off-putting. I would remind Him of the fact that I am a witness in my everyday interactions with people. I would point out specific people He placed in my path, opportunities He provided and how I responded. I would ask him to equip me for those personal encounters. And I would conveniently neglect to mention the opportunities I let pass because I was too much of a coward to speak.
And if God listened to all that whining and still prompted me to go cold-call “Visiting?”
I would stall.
And eventually go. Because I’m not that stupid. I’ve also read the story of Jonah. Disobedience is MUCH more uncomfortable than cold-call evangelism.
So, yes. I would go. But I wouldn’t like it. And God would know it. Because He’s God. and He knows me. No need for pretense. That’s one of the best aspects of an intimate relationship. No need for a pious charade.
The truth is that being a witness for Christ can mean very different things to very different people. Here are a few examples. (I must admit. My favorite is the guy with the megaphone.)
That video showed 7 variations on evangelism. My thought on each?
In my last post, I said that I’ve learned the hard way that the word “evangelism” does not have a one size fits all definition and that my personal working definition of evangelism is:
“Being a witness to what Christ has done and is doing in my life – because I’m so passionate about it I can’t keep it to myself.”
Within the framework of that definition, evangelism doesn’t take place at a certain time or place. For me, evangelism takes place in my everyday interpersonal interactions.
That means in the context of my everyday interactions with people, I am very open about my faith. Because I’ve learned that if I hide the thing that is most important in my life from the people I interact with in an effort to make them more comfortable, we will never be true friends. They will never know who I really am. I will be a big fake. The hiding would be deceitful. I tell people about my faith in Christ because it is such a integral part of my life that to hide it from people would be to hide myself. It would keep people at a distance.
So if you would be more comfortable with a fake friendship, I’m not your girl. We will never have a running text thread. And you will not have your own unique ring tone or text message notification on my cell phone.
We will never be more than acquaintances.
Here’s what evangelism looks like in my life: When I interact with people, the first thing I want to do is get to know more about them as an individual. I ask questions. I listen. I ask more questions. and I listen. Sometimes, the other person shares something about their own life or experiences or goals or dreams or obstacles or fears that calls to my mind something in my own life and experience – something which relates in some way to what they’ve shared with me. Since Christ is such an integral part of my life, it’s only natural that those experiences would be saturated by His presence and influence.
I don’t filter Him out of my life stories to make other people more comfortable.
What about you? Do you filter out what Christ has done and is doing in your life in an effort to make people more comfortable? To make yourself easier to like?
Are you hiding the most important part of yourself and in the process, sabotaging the potential for authentic friendships? Are you keeping people at a distance? Settling for another acquaintance when you could have a true friend? What happens if you give the other person more credit than that? What happens if you trust them accept you for who you are even if they are different than you?
Sharing what Christ has done and IS doing in my life occurs naturally within my interpersonal relationships. It stems from a genuine extension of friendship and respect. It stems from authentic transparency.
I used to think that if I was transparent about my faith I would be rejected. Sometimes I am.
We are not as tolerant as we would like to think.
But more often than not, I’ve found that people are very gracious. More than tolerant. Friendly and engaging even. Even when we don’t agree.
Because there is a HUGE difference between telling people what I believe and telling people what I think they should believe.
There is a HUGE difference between telling people how I live my life and telling people how I think they should live theirs.
There is a HUGE difference between telling people how my faith in Christ impacts my life and this:
The first is evangelism.
The second is just obnoxious.
“We are called to be witnesses – to show and tell what we have seen and what we know. We are to be a witness of the way that God, through faith, prayer, and the Bible, has transformed our lives.”
Going Public with Your Faith
by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore
This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.
Yesterday I gave something up.
I realized it was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. But I didn’t give up this “something” for Lent. I haven’t observed Lent for decades, for reasons I won’t go into right now.
When I decided to give up this “something,” I knew I wanted to give it up forever. I need to give it up forever.
What is it?
For months, I had prayed like a widow, asking God if he wanted me to post some things I began writing in August of 2012. For months I fought against God’s relentless prompting to post. I rationalized. I pleaded.
Finally, I got a word from God I knew I could not ignore. I knew I was being blatantly disobedient and that I would find no rest until I posted. So, nauseous and against my will, I hit publish.
And then F5.
again. and again. and again.
I continued to post every day. And I continued to refresh my blog stats.
Over the last week, God revealed to me that I had a refresh addiction. That stupid little F5 key was having a significant negative impact on my blog posting. From everything I wrote to what I posted to when I posted it. It was intruding on my thoughts. and my sleep.
I skipped a day. Posted. Skipped another day. Posted again.
I knew I was holding back. I was letting digital feedback interfere with God’s direction. I knew I had to cut off the stats. I’ll still respond to comments and private messages, but I’ve moved my blog stat widget and my “Top Ten” widget down in my navigation menus, out of my line of sight. If I find that I can still see them as I work, I’ll remove them altogether. I’ve turned off email notifications for when someone “likes” a post or “follows” my blog. I haven’t viewed my stats page or my “Live Traffic Feed” widget since early Wednesday morning.
It’s the end of my second day without blog stat feedback and I can honestly say.
I have absolutely no idea how many people are or are not reading my blog. I have no idea what posts are being read or how often. I have no idea where visitors are coming from or what they click on. I have no idea what search strings are being used to find my posts. I know nothing about my blog activity.
I thought I would be anxious. But I’m surprisingly relieved.
Here’s what my new blog plan looks like:
6. Trust God to do whatever He is going to do.
I need to depend on Christ for affirmation.
To read the next post in this series, click here: “I made a mistake.“
Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Me: “Someone made coffee?”
Me: “awww. You’re my favorite daughter!”
PinkGirl: “I would have preferred ‘favorite child.’”
FavoriteSon: “What do you want?”
FavroiteSon: “umm. hmm.”
Me: “You’re slacking on your ‘walking concordance’ duties. How much have we paid for your Christian education anyway?”
FavoriteSon: “I got it. Ecclesiastes 10:19″
Me: “uh huh. I can tell already that you’re jerking me around.”
FavoriteSon: “No. Really.”
Ecclesiastes 10:19: “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.”
If you put your kids Christmas gifts in unmarked boxes, you can get them to wrap their own presents.
Here’s how PinkGirl’s volcano science project turned out yesterday:
If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember FavoriteSon’s volcano project. Here’s an excerpt from that blog post:
We end up at Michael’s craft store with four packages of quick drying clay, a terra cotta pot and . . . a rocket engine. Yes. Michael’s sells rocket engines. FirstHusband is smiling and FavoriteSon is explaining how there really IS a type of volcano that explodes like that . . . The boys spend all morning Saturday wiring and soldering. Then they go into the backyard to test it before they make a terra cotta pot LOOK like a volcano. It works. It explodes. I look at FavoriteSon and say, “When you get sent to the office on Monday, give them your dad’s work number so he can explain how that’s perfectly safe.” . . . Then it’s tested again, this time adding sand to the top of the volcano so it shoots dirt up into the air and looks even more realistic . . . either FavoriteSon will be suspended or he will get an “A” on this project. (postscript: he got an “A”)
So. This time, explosives are NOT an option. PinkGirl has the same science teacher FavoriteSon did. No playing the “I had no idea” card. But PinkGirl wanted “a BIG explosion.” How to do that without ignition? FirstHusband wanted to buy a portable compressor, but his attempt to justify the expense by coming up with other things to do with it after making a volcano explode?
So my father (SuperPappy) suggested the shop vac reversed. The lampshade idea came to me during a severe allergic reaction to crafting after my husband said the words “paper mache” to me. We picked out a dirty, torn lampshade and got a 25% discount. Final Sale. No returns.
No problem. Crafting avoided.
As you can see, the explosion was a HIT. The ash went higher than the fence.
Here’s the written report PinkGirl wrote to accompany the volcano shown in the video:
“Volcanoes are amazing things of nature and only God can create them. Still for my project I tried my best and I also had fun while doing it. From deciding what type of volcano mine is or what type of eruption it will have it was a fun learning experience that I would love to tell you about.
The First thing I did was paint the lampshade (which is my volcano). It was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be because I had to mix paint to find the right color. The second thing I did was cut a hole in the box big enough for the pipe. Then I cut the top of the lampshade out with bolt cutter. (It was awesome!) After that I measured and cut the pipe to the right size with a hack saw. (My dad helped a little for this part but I did cut with a hack saw.) Next I glued the pipe to the adapter and cut the small pipe to the right size and glued it to the adapter and the elbow of the other pipe. Then I put another hole in the side of the box and put the side pipe in it. Next is my favorite part. I put coal in a bag and crushed it with a hammer. After that I poured the ash and coal in and covered it with saran wrap. Then I painted the box green and put the “Snow” on the volcano. The last step was decorating it with little touches to make it look better.
During the process of building my volcano I learned all about Composite volcanoes and plinian eruptions. Composite volcanoes are made out of ash, tephra, and lava. Plinian eruptions are violent and have lots of ash and poisonous gasses. Mt. Saint Helens was a composite volcano and had a plinian eruption.
I always thought a volcano just meant lava and smoke but I now understand that volcanoes are much more complicated than that. God must have had fun designing and creating volcanoes. He is a very creative God who has an amazing imagination. Volcanoes are dangerous magnificent things that create new land, give us dazzling treasures, and really open our eyes to show us how marvelous our world really is. I can only imagine what other planets are like.
I’m back to writing my book again! Momentarily holding distractions at arm’s length.
Working on my chapter on Influence, writing about the impact of Groupthink. Curious. If you were in the elevator with these people, what would YOU do?
Back to yoga class this morning. I’m paying for taking the summer off.
PinkGirl: “WHAT is that SMELL?”
FavoriteHusband, working on my shoulder: “your mom calls it ‘stinky hot’ but it’s really called BENGAY.”
PinkGirl: “it’s GROSS!”
A few minutes later:
FavoriteSon: “Why do I smell Pepto-Bismol?”
Me: “It’s stinky hot.”
FavoriteSon: “Smells like Pepto.”
Mr. Miyagi could fix my shoulder without stinkin up the place.
Me: “PinkGirl, you know what time it is?”
Me: “Time to lay out your clothes for school tomorrow.”
extreme, dramatic faux fainting
Me: “And pack your lunch.”
and just like that. Summer is over.
Shoulder Devil: “It’s late. You did the HIIT training. Skip the rest.”
Shoulder Angel: “There’s still an hour and a half left in the day. Don’t listen to him. If it wasn’t for me, your body fat percentage would still be 51%”
Shoulder Devil:: “hhhhhh. okay, fine. then just do the plank. Skip the strength training. You’re tired. You can do strength training tomorrow.”
Shoulder Angel:: “He’s right.”
Shoulder Devil:: “I am?”
Shoulder Angel:: You should do strength training tomorrow. You should do tomorrow’s strength training tomorrow. Do today’s strength training today.”
Shoulder Devil:: “no, that’s not what I meant…”
Shoulder Devil:: “Don’t listen to him, he’s a fanatic. He’s talking about 10 Minutes. What’s the big deal about 10 lousy minutes?”
Shoulder Angel:: “EXACTLY my point.”
Shoulder Devil:: “NO! That’s not what I meant…”
Shoulder Angel:: “HEY! remember that FIRM 5 Day Ab workout from the 90s? Do that! Day one is only 6 minutes!”
And that’s how I ended up with this video in the DVD player tonight.
(and you’re welcome. this video clip is so blurry you can’t see that the shorts on the guys in this video are WAY too short. T. M. I. and ewww. and again. ewww. and who says “supine? My whole life I’ve never said the word “supine.”)
(a short excerpt from the book I’m writing – and WILL eventually finish)
Why is it that when faced with a problem, my first inclination is to do something? To take action? Why is it that my knee jerk reaction is to throw myself into problem solving mode? Then, when I’ve expended every effort, when I’ve explored every possible option, only then do I pray? Why is it so counter-intuitive to pray first? Why is it that I, more often than I’d like to admit, see prayer as a last resort in a time of crisis instead of a first line of defense?
This is not something I’m proud of, nor is it something I can rationalize or dismiss. What I want to do when faced with a challenge or crisis, is immediately, intuitively go to God for help, but instead, time and time again, I find myself at the end of my own abilities, begging God for direction and ideas – and supernatural intervention.
Prayer is seriously underrated. We tend to keep it in a nice, neat little box, taking it out only when we need it. In the words of Robin Williams as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin:
“Phenomenal cosmic power! itty bitty living space.”
I’ve found that when I’m actively committed to consistently spending time with God, the tendency to handle things on my own is automatically diminished. When I’ve already spent time with God on a given day, reaching out to Him as a first response when something happens later in the day is much more intuitive. I’m also less easily discouraged because when I talk to God first, my approach to a problem is much clearer and calmer. I’m not saying that every time I bring a problem to God I come away with a crystal clear approach to successful and immediate problem solving.
But in the great debate of whether prayer changes God’s mind or our hearts, chalk this one up to a changed heart.
. . . when you realize you have nothing to contribute. When you realize everything that can be said has already been said, that there are literally countless people who can do what you’re trying to learn to do – and they are already phenomenally better at it, and that you should give up this fantasy you’re chasing and get back to real life . . .
. . . and then you come to your senses and say, “Get thee behind me Satan! I am so unbelievably sick of you and your lies.”
Termite Guy: “I added 8 new bait stations and put these little flags at each one. That’s a total of 31 stations all the way around the house.”
Me: “I’m not a big fan of the orange plastic flags on wire sticks. I can put something more subtle and decorative at each station if you need them marked.”
Termite Guy: “I’ll just push them all the way down to the ground. You’ll barely notice them.”
Me: “I’m just going to pull the ugly orange plastic flags out of the ground after you leave.”
(I actually said that to myself. There was really no reason to say it to him, he didn’t listen to me the first time.)
Friday, May 11, 2012 – Trying to learn this: “The difference between being 95% prepared & 100% prepared (whatever that is) is infinitesimal. It is not perceived. But the energy expended in moving from 95% to 100% is immense, much more than that required to move from 75% to 95%.” Alan Weiss
Saturday, May 12 2012
11:24am – My husband loves me! He just used his AMEX points to buy me a new phone for Mother’s Day!!! (I’m not eligible for an upgrade till November). I hope I love it as much as I think I will! But if not, I ordered it from Walmart. They let you return anything.
4:19pm – Tackling the paper mountain that is my office. I’ve avoided working in there since I brought the 45+ pounds of paper home from my mom’s house after her death in December. Time to reclaim my work space. #somuchpaper
7:45pm – More than three hours later and I’m still going through the 45+ pounds of paper I’ve ignored since I brought it home from my mom’s after her death in December. Thousands of pieces of paper – mementos, letters, records, photos…when I started this weekend project, I didn’t even connect it with Mother’s Day. God is weird that way.
10:53pm – took over 6 hours to sort all the paper from my mom’s house. Now I’m ready to deep clean and purge my office of our own paper and clutter. Well. not NOW. Maybe tomorrow.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
2:34pm – So proud of PinkGirl! She did a wonderful job on “Mighty to Save” this morning during the 8am and 11am services. And an added mom bonus? She LISTENED and FOLLOWED MY ADVICE during her vocal warm up this morning!!! A Mother’s Day miracle! #ilovemydaughter
3:08pm – I ordered my new phone yesterday. I’m ready for it to be here now. #impatient
I’m going from a 2.5 x 2.5 inch Motorola Flipout to a 7 inch Dell Streak
This is a HUGE change for me. No more tucking my phone in my bra. Just saying.
PinkGirl’s text to her dad about singing special music at the 8am service this morning: “The power went out so we stopped and I messed up double so yay!” 8:29 AM
PinkGirl: “DAD!” 8:31 AM
PinkGirl: “Yo Horton!!!” 8:31 AM
Her Dad: “Bummer. You will do better at 11″ 8:34 AM
PinkGirl: My dress was sooo short i was afraid i was gonna flash the congregation! ” 8:36 AM
(Mom Note: she is so impatient. I don’t know where she gets it. and the dress was short, but not that short. There was no view of London or France at any time.)
7:06pm – I had to complete a scavenger hunt to find my Mother’s Day present. Seven clues later, it was a coupon for “a FREE two day pass to PINKGIRL WORLD! Where PinkGirl will tend to your every need and do whatever you want willingly without grumbling or complaining. Not valid on School Days.” The location of this priceless coupon? Buried in the cat’s litter box. At least she scooped it first. #ilovemydaughter
All in all, it was a good weekend. Finally got to meet a long time blog friend and her family at EPCOT Friday night while they were vacationing here. A rare Sunday morning praise team set where I think we had a perfect balance between abandoning ourselves to worship and striving for excellence and time spent with friends and family on Sunday afternoon.
God is Good. All the Time.
My daughter was lounging around the house in a circa 1970s McDonalds uniform last night. The neon green version.
Attractive, I know.
She’s got a decade project due this week, so we’ve been in the attic. And now she wants to wear this to school. Her brother wore the SAME uniform to school for 70′s Day during spirit week in middle school (and won first place for that day.)
Some kids have no fear. so. much. polyester.
This was the job I got at 16 to make the $53 a month car payment on my 1971 Mustang. I did everything: counter, drive thru, grill, hostess, opening, closing, birthday parties, I even started manager training before I came to my senses and decided to finish college. I worked there from 1980 to 1983, back when the employees made double cheeseburgers before they were on the menu. These uniforms had been worn for years before.
Wasn’t I lucky to work at the “green” McDonalds? (And green has a totally different meaning in this context than it does today.) I wanted the deep blue. Or at least the baby blue. But the green was SOOO much better than the brown/maroon.
Anybody else remember the 7 steps for taking a customer order at McDonalds “back in the day?”
1. Smile and Greet the Customer
2. Take the Order/Repeat the Order
3. Suggestive Sell
4. Assemble the Order
5. Accept the payment
6. Present the Order
7. Thank them and ask them to Come Again.
What’d I tell you? Foundation of my work ethic.
“so, have you spoken to them about their behavior?”
That was the question I was asked after publishing my post entitled “you see the big hat too . . . right?“
(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “passive-aggressive narcissist. boundaries, distance & prayer. attempted normal relationship. failed. back to boundaries, distance & prayer.”)
Back to the question – Have I spoken to this person about their behavior?
The person asking me the question is someone I respect. They deserve an answer with a reason. So here goes.
As Christians, we tend to think God wants us to reek of Ephesians 4 and live in “Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ.” My concern, the reason I’m still writing about my response to passive-aggressive behavior, is that some Christians interpret “unity in Christ” to mean we should get along with everybody God has placed and/or allowed in our lives. Some Christians believe that “unity in Christ” means that anger is a sin and most importantly, that we should strive to resolve differences when we encounter conflict.
Have I spoken to this person about their behavior? It’s a reasonable question – from a reasonable person. And therein lies the problem. The assumption we want to make is that everyone is, at least for a few minutes of every day, reasonable.
What a beautiful theory.
In reality, it’s more like this:
(oh, chill out. It’s just a cartoon. God loves jerks too.)
To answer the question, Yes. I tried confrontation. I was a communication major. I have a conflict resolution model memorized and am ready to use it at a moment’s notice. So, yes. I did speak with them about their behavior – Before I figured out their standard MO (with everyone, not just me) was passive-aggressive behavior. Specific behaviors were openly addressed and were discontinued, at least temporarily, only to be replaced with a different manifestation of the same root issue. See, passive-aggressive behavior is like a flu strain. It subtly morphs, but is never eradicated. Since the behaviors never stop, the need for attention never ends.
I have years of experience with narcissism and its key characteristic – passive-aggressive behavior. I spent months saturated in research on it. Once I recognized it in this person, I knew exactly what to do. Over and over and over again, the books and documentation suggest that boundaries and distance are the only long lasting solution.
really. I’m not just making this stuff up to avoid confrontation. Remember, I tried confrontation. Confrontation produced temporary results:
“Realize that the narcissist may agree to change the dynamics of the relationship for a short time, to get you off his back,” but will usually revert to what he or she considers “normal.” In the end, the only healthy way to live with a narcissist is to become more of “your own person” and to create a space between you and the narcissist from which you both can live . . .
Minimize direct confrontation with the narcissist’s unhealthy behavior. Most narcissists are simply unable to receive criticism, even if it is meant constructively and spoken in a soft and respectful manner . . .
Maintain good personal boundaries between you and the narcissist. In response to your setting a boundary, the narcissist may attempt to rewrite history or even try to convince you that what you thought (or saw) just happened didn’t, and thus, there is no need for setting a boundary in the first place. Do not back down. . . ” (emphasis added)
My recent problem stemmed from the fact that I intentionally made the decision to take down the boundaries I had set and I attempted to bridge the distance I had established. (To find out WHY I would do such a thing, CLICK HERE to read my post Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.
(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “a friend witnessed a passive-aggressive attack that didn’t bother me, but upset her. I explored the possibility that my boundaries were not God’s will.”)
Someone I respected – also a Christian and a reasonable person – witnessed a passive-aggressive attack. Because I had mental and emotional boundaries firmly in place, I bounced back like a quarter on a tightly made bed. My friend, however, was surprised and upset by this person’s behavior. It was new to them and seemed out of character. From my perspective, the behavior was fairly typical. But out of respect for my friend, because it upset her, I decided to prayerfully consider whether I was ignoring any promptings from the Holy Spirit to reach out to the narcissist God was allowing in my life.
Armed with daily prayer and all the research on narcissism and passive-aggressive behavior I could devour, I spent the last few weeks attempting to engage in a positive interpersonal relationship with this person I had previously (and successfully) blocked out for 2 years.
It depleted me. It sapped my energy and stole my peace. It interfered with my work. I became so discouraged I even stopped eating and exercising. I slowly lost my patience and my ability to respond appropriately and began to resent this person and react with frustration when I witnessed continued attempts at manipulation, whereas I had previously felt nothing toward them and had been immune to the manipulation for 2 years. I had experienced 2 years of sincere calm indifference when they behaved badly and now? I wanted to smack ‘em every time they acted out. That ain’t good. CLICK HERE to read “step away from the puppy” to read what I wrote about that.”
(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “emotional bullies wear puppy suits. wounded puppy suits. feeding the puppy just makes him hungrier and wipes you out.”)
After relentlessly praying about this situation and this person and relentlessly asking God what he would have me do, I’m grateful and confident that Christ isn’t calling me to extend compassion by making myself available for continuous attack. (again, with another backstory – CLICK HERE to read “I’m going to stop being discouraged and be awesome instead. True Story.“)
(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “I can’t be discouraged anymore. It doesn’t work for me. It’s like breathing through a pillow.”)
My favorite verse in Ephesians 4? Verse 26a: “Be angry but do not sin.”
And I’m very grateful to Dr. Paul Meier for his interpretation of scripture:
David’s response to Saul offers a three-step process for us to follow today:
1. Remember that you aren’t the issue! David knew the problem was with Saul, not with himself.
2. Recognize you can’t cure the other person. David couldn’t straighten Saul out. If you want peace of mind, you must realize you cannot change a crazymaker’s internal workings.
3. We can only change ourselves. Instead of responding to Saul in a like manner, David refused to become Saul’s enemy. David supported the king even as he hid from Saul’s vicious attacks.
Crazymakers by Paul Meier M.D.
I’ve gone back to a place of peace through the re-establishment of boundaries, distance and prayer – I literally pray for this person multiple times per week. If anything will change them, it will be God. Because, unlike me, HE can do ANYthing.
CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.
Watching Mythbusters on DVR tonight and that was one of the questions.
FirstHusband: “Oh, DEFINITELY a man.”
Me: “You know why?”
FirstHusband: “Spacial relationships.”
Me: “nope. it’s because we don’t care.”
Once I get the suitcase closed, my job is done.