The Vows of Victimhood

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Bob had a business meeting in Boston, and decided to drive instead of fly from his home in Washington, DC. His wife, Barb, called him to see how the road trip was going.

Barb: How’s the road trip going, Honey? Where are you?

Bob: I’m in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Barb: Honey, you’re going the wrong way!

Bob: Yeah I know. I want to go north, but the car’s going south.

Barb: Who’s driving the car?

Bob: I am.

Barb: Then why are you going south?

Bob: I don’t want to. I want to go north. But the car got on the southbound ramp and won’t turn around. I’m worried I might be late for my meeting in Boston if the car goes to Florida.

Barb: Honey, turn the car around.

Bob: Hey, don’t judge me! I’m the victim here in this crazy situation! I want to go north; it’s not my fault the car’s going south!

Pretty jacked up, right? Bob’s words, saying he wants to go to Boston, all of his good intentions and planning, all of his heart-longing for it, aren’t going to get the car there. His actions are driving the car, not his words. If he ever wants to get to Boston, he needs to take responsibility for his actions and turn the car around. Pretty obvious, huh?

But we do this in our relationships all the time. We pursue our life-goals this way. It’s our actions that are driving our car and setting our destination – not our stated good intentions or our desires.

When we live this way, we’ve taken the Vows of Victimhood.

“I want to relate but not be hurt.” Although we say we want a relationship, we take steps by our actions to push people away. We decide we’re going to control the situation to keep from getting hurt, instead of trusting God to heal us through the hurt. And it turns out that our trying to control causes us worse hurt than the natural situation would have. But we blame the situation.

“I want to learn but not fail.” We say we want that promotion, but we’re not willing to learn the technology or acquire the skills or do anything different. We don’t want to risk failing. It’s as if Bob intentionally drove to Raleigh to avoid the traffic in New York City. He will avoid the traffic in New York City with this strategy, but he’s also not going to Boston.

Kudos to Dr William Clark from The Lay Counselor Institute for this excellent analogy.

Does this strike a chord with you? Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt? Tell us in the comments or send us a private message with the Contact Us link above. We really want to hear from you.

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The Love of the Father

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Our world is starved for love and intimacy. We are made for love – to give and receive love. In the beginning God walked in the garden with man (and woman) in the cool of the day. It is the Father’s heart to spend time with us and to commune.

We don’t have to look far to find that love. We have a father in heaven who cares about us. This Father wants to be in such a relationship where we can rest in the knowledge that he has it all under control. He wants us to have faith like a child who says “Abba” or Daddy.

When we look at Jesus we look into the face of love. Love that stepped down from the throne to pay the gruesome price for my sin. No other religion speaks of a God that wants relationship. Any other religion requires some kind of earning our way to heaven. Not Christianity. The price was paid for at the cross.

I recently gazed on a bright red woven cross. To me, it spoke of the blood of Jesus. No where can we find the power to wash away the filth of our sin. Yours is no worse than mine. It all cost Jesus his life. But he laid it down willingly for you and me. How precious and how profound.

In our sophisticated, busy lives today we desperately need to know that love and forgiveness that Jesus bought. Our God is a God of second chances. We’ve all blown it. Over and over and over. But I can always climb back into my Daddy’s lap and know His love and acceptance.

Do you relate to God as your Daddy, or is that hard? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Loving Accountability

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Does not judging mean I have to tolerate abuse or evil behavior against me? The perps would like us to think so. Abusers try to pervert the whole “don’t judge” principle to their unholy advantage. So let’s get this sorted out and bring some balance here.

Judging, accountability, and our emotions are all totally independent things. Our society, and even the church, constantly gets these confused. You can forgive someone and hence not be judging them, while at the same time holding them accountable for their behavior, while at the same time still being very angry and hurt. If their behavior was criminal, you can prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law while completely forgiving them.

We should always hold abusers and criminals accountable for their behavior, for two main reasons:

  • To protect others from being victimized like we were.
  • So (hopefully) the person, when confronted with their sin, repents and turns to the Lord who sets them free from it, healing them from the pain in their lives that made them vulnerable to that sin and deception in the first place.

Working through our emotions over the matter is totally separate from whether we hold the other person accountable or not. If the sin against us was grievous, we may need to walk our emotions through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Get Christian counseling, inner healing, deliverance, probably all of the above, whatever help you need to work through it. It’s normal to need help to work through the emotions in a healthy way. An excellent plan is to work with both a Christian counselor and your Pastor.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending it never happened and or not holding the person accountable. It means releasing them from owing us anything for it. Because we realize they are not the evil they did to us. We can still set healthy boundaries as long as our heart is right – not to punish them but either to (1) keep ourselves safe, or (2) hold them accountable (for example, if we have an authority-to-subordinate relationship to them like parent-child or employer-employee).

Judging and forgiving are not activities centered in our emotions, but in our will. They have nothing to do with how we feel about the person who hurt us. They have everything to do with what we choose to believe about that person. They have everything to do with what we declare about that person.

So what do we declare about the person who wronged us? Are they the evil they did to us? That’s judging. Or can we declare that they are not the evil they did to us? That’s forgiveness. It really is that simple (but it’s not easy).

Mercy toward others triumphs over the judgement we deserve.

So what do you think about all this? Are you trying to sort out forgiveness versus accountability? It took me a while to sort this out in my own life, and I have to keep going back to it. We’d love to hear your story. If this resonates with you, or challenges you, please leave us a comment or shoot us an email (click the “Contact Us” button on the menu bar).

Becoming What We Hated

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We become what we judge. When I first heard this, I took some convincing. But they showed it to me in the Word of God: Romans 2:1 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

See? You become what you judge.

Since learning about this, I have witnessed it to be true, both in my own life and in the lives of those close to me. When we harbor resentment and judgment, we will eventually start doing the same things, and eventually become what we hated.

If it’s not too corny, think about this. Even George Lucas has figured this out. It’s the theme of the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi. Luke’s vengeance against his father (Darth Vader) gives him the opportunity to become his father. This is the choice Luke must make at the end of the movie – to complete his judgement on his father, and hence become him, or to forgive his father. And it’s the power of Luke’s forgiveness that frees his father from his deception, and he saves Luke. But whether Luke lived or died, he still made the better choice. Better to die at the hands of Emperor Palpatine than to live as Darth Vader II.

Judgment sets us up to become what we hated. This is why forgiveness is so vitally important. It releases us from repeating the evil done to us.

Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13b NIV).

We’d love to hear your story of mercy and judgement. Please leave a comment or shoot us an email.

God’s Return

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What does “don’t judge or you’ll be judged” mean? (Matthew 7:1) It means we will be judged in the same way that we judge others. This is an example of sowing and reaping that we talked about in the last post. And this is really cool, because we can set ourselves up for blessing (or the opposite – it’s our choice).

Judging and forgiving are complete opposites. When someone does evil against us, we are either doing one or the other. This relationship law goes far beyond the evil done to us. Because unfortunately, our judging often goes far beyond the evil done to us.

We judge things we don’t like, even though the person isn’t doing anything to us. We sometimes make our personal preferences into idols, and then our self-righteousness makes them doctrine to impose on others. At that point, we’ve become Pharisees, who made the Traditions of the Elders equal to the Law of Moses (Matthew 15:1-6).

Churches have split over the style of music or the color of the carpet. Ever condemn a style of music you didn’t like? If the words are sinful, then the words are certainly wrong, but not the style. The style, the instrumental music itself, is ok even if we don’t personally like it.

So if it’s something that doesn’t affect us, if it isn’t a black ‘n’ white contradiction to the Word of God, and if it isn’t self-destructive behavior, we’re better off dropping it. It’s probably just our personal preference. And we’ll receive the same grace from God we give the other person (or not).

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

We’d love to hear your story of mercy and judgement. Please leave a comment or shoot us an email.