In my post Monday, I talked about confronting versus appeasing, and I’d like to clarify that. Simply saying “no” IS a form of confrontation. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic face-off with rolling tumbleweeds and an ominous whistle soundtrack. And to that end, I should note that several looming confrontations in my life never even had to take place – at least not face-to-face.
Ephesians 6:12 Jewish Bible
For we are not struggling against human beings,
but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.
This verse is very hardcore to me. I really didn’t comprehend it for a long time, and then I experienced it.
There was a friend that I had an impossible time saying “no” to about pretty much anything. It was ridiculous! I’d get to the point where I’d had enough, and then she’d come at me in a whole new way and I’d cave again. It was like trying to catch an eel.
One day, enough was enough and I’d had it, so I took it to God. I yelled and threw things and accused her and accused me and finally asked Him, “What is this hold she has on me? I hate it!” He answered me and everything changed: “Obligation.” Deep down, I felt I owed her. That obligation was a chain around my neck – and hers.
Martha told me early on that I belonged to Jesus; that I’d been bought. She told me that purchase included ALL my debt – EVERYTHING I owed – past, present, and future. In the case of this friend (and every person I’d ever met), I viewed every kindness as an obligation to meet. A gift wasn’t a gift to me; it was an imbalance in the relationship that needed to be repaid to make us even. Tit for tat. A wretched, stressful, mercenary view of life and it was mine.
What followed was a pretty painful repentance. But after that was pure exuberance! I was owned by God and freer than ever before. Turns out gratitude is NOT obligation. Who knew?
Long story short: I never did have to sit my friend down and explain all the ways I should have said “no” – followed by the “there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town” warning that things were going to change. The next time I saw her, she acted like a very different person. All the manipulations and machinations were just gone. It was the weirdest thing I’ve experienced to date.
That’s when I realized that it wasn’t really about her, just like the verse says. I HAD said no. That wormhole to the enemy was closed. I was different, not her. The confrontation took place where it needed to: before God in the spiritual realm. I was armed and ready to do battle with my friend, but the battle was done and won already. Super weird and so awesome!
So I didn’t go from appeaser-in-chief to settling scores a la the Dark Knight. Martha says that the stronger my “yes” to God, the easier (and less dramatic) my “no” to the world will come when it’s needed. I have found that to be absolutely true.