Something I haven’t spoken of much is developing a willingness to be wronged. Standing there patiently and consensually while someone rants and rages, disrespects you, lies, whatever. Not my strong suit at all, it’s been a long journey, much like a frog slowly boiling in a pot of water. That’s an analogy that is often assigned negative connotations, but basically it points out that if you toss a frog in hot water, he’ll jump out. If you set him in cold water and slowly turn the heat up, he won’t notice anything is wrong until it’s too late.
Don’t ask me who went around torturing frogs for that horrible experiment. For all I know it is simply myth and legend. Perhaps frogs don’t jump out of boiling water at all, but it speaks to being slowly conditioned to accept the unacceptable. In this example, I mean something much gentler and kind, a slow and careful process, more like poking your toe in cold water and slowly getting use to it.
It begins with something like a baby spitting up on you. They are so cute, so precious, is anybody really offended? Nah, what’s a little baby spit up? And then sick kids running down the hall as if throwing up is some kind of marathon sport or something…. But it begins to get a lot less cute when some grown up drunk decides to puke all over your car. I call that leveling up the game. Still willing to allow yourself to be wronged?
I’ve been thrown up on a lot over the years. Not to get too gross and graphic here, but urinal accidents are even worse. You just have to close your eyes and remind yourself it’s sterile…for the most part. Let’s level up the game a bit, an accident is one thing, how about when someone actually throws a urinal at you? Yeah, people can be really special…..
Somewhere in the process of being a mom, work, and life, I learned how to duck, get out of the way, and sometimes to simply stand and endure, to willingly allow myself to be wronged.
That’s a delicate walk and I don’t wish to imply that it is ever okay to mistreat someone, or that we as people are called to just put up with bad behavior. But there are times when love calls you to do just that, to stand and endure. There are also times of injustice when things are simply beyond our control. There are even times when God may ask us to just breath and graciously try to reflect Him as best we can, to be willing to be wronged.
I mention this because we’re living in a crazy world where everything is perceived as abuse and much shrieking goes on. These are times where it is culturally acceptable to sue anyone and everyone for the littlest thing. Kids will actually call the cops on their parents, or boyfriends and girlfriends to settle disputes. Someone recently called the cops on us because our cat was trespassing in their yard. Bad kitty.
We are a perpetually offended culture, out to teach the whole world that it better not abuse us. I am part of that culture, like I said, developing a willingness to be wronged has been a long, slow, process. It’s unnatural, counter intuitive, and today, socially unacceptable.
It’s so necessary, however. It’s a vital skill we seem to be losing. To be willing to be wronged takes an awful lot of spiritual strength….and vulnerability at the same time. It requires emotional maturity and a willingness to lean into the Lord. You have to know your own limits, but also know how to keep your eye on the fruits of your efforts.
I deliberately mentioned the frog boiling in a pot because it is a frequent scare tactic used to convince people that if they let the slightest thing get past them, they’ll become conditioned to just accept more and more abuse. Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile. Soon you won’t even bother to fight back! I think we’re doing a lot of harm in the world with that analogy, because it fails to take into consideration the complexity of people. We are not frogs.
Love, intimacy, relationships, actually require a willingness to be wronged. Communication in marriage, raising children, all require a willingness to be wronged. Someone who has the power to love you, also has the power to hurt you. It is what it is.
A willingness to be wronged however, is really important when it comes to forgiveness, injustice, healing. We may not have been willing to be wronged at the time, but we were eventually wronged anyway. Often people will get trapped in chronic victimhood when they are unwilling to admit they were wronged. Someone had the power to hurt you and they did. Coincidentally, we now have a culture of perpetual offense and chronic victimhood. The two tend to go hand in hand.
It can be really hard for people who have been genuinely harmed through no fault of their own, but often a path to healing comes from acknowledging that you were actually willing to be wronged and forgiving yourself for that vulnerability. It is a vulnerability, but it’s also a great strength. When we are unwilling to be wronged, we are unwilling to be loved.