APPEASE: pacify, conciliate; especially: to buy off (an aggressor) by concessions usually at the sacrifice of principles
Ouch! This one hits me square in the breadbasket. These last few days, I’ve been meditating on the importance of drawing boundaries. When I was saved, I knew nothing about boundaries and everything about appeasement. Well, maybe I should say that I regularly practiced appeasement, but I didn’t call it that.
When I learned about Neville Chamberlain in school, I had utter contempt for him. Who didn’t? He’s the cowardly foil to Winston Churchill’s “British Bulldog.” Chamberlain is the face of appeasement; that’s his legacy. I was SO much better than him. I wouldn’t have made a pact with the Nazis just to avoid war! The Lord crushed my arrogant superiority with four words: “Let’s review your life.”
What followed was an unrelenting memory slideshow of times when I had to choose to confront or appease – and I appeased. I didn’t call it that, of course.
- I have to be nice;
- It’s really none of my business;
- I’m sure they didn’t mean what they said;
- Calling them out is too much work and wouldn’t change anything anyway.
I had plenty of ways to excuse my appeasement, but my heart knew. Every time I flinched away from drawing the line, my self-respect eroded.
I saw that when it came to friends and family, I just wouldn’t set boundaries. I didn’t want to risk losing them. Funny enough, if asked, I would have described myself as “someone not afraid to speak her mind.” That was only true if you discounted my idols of friends and family. I mean, I certainly wasn’t going to anger my gods and invite them to stop loving me! I needed them too much.
The thing is, appeasement eroded my self worth and became a habit. It wasn’t constrained to my interactions with the people I loved. By violating my principles regularly, I began to lose them. I woke up one day and realized I lacked integrity and was a complete coward. I hated myself for that, but I didn’t see the connection until God showed me.
This has been one of the hardest trainings for me. Old habits die hard and the humiliations are seemingly endless. But the rewards are huge, and one of the biggest is being intact. One of the definitions of integrity is “the quality or state of being complete or undivided.” When I don’t set boundaries for others OR myself, I splinter. I cease to be intact, to be whole, to be true to God or myself. God does not appease. I cannot be wholly His when I abandon His will for the easy way out.
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and most important command.
The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:36-39 HCSB
It is absolutely impossible to love yourself when you don’t respect yourself. Setting boundaries is hard work and often painful; honestly, it hurts. But it’s clean. I come to God with an undivided heart and one less obstacle to receiving His love. Priceless.