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lionand lamb“You just need to get along better with people.” Boy, them there are some real trigger words for most victims of abuse, exploitation, or for the people pleasers and co-dependents among us. I’ve heard them a few times in my life too, at very inappropriate times, totally victim blaming and out of context.

They are words devoid of justice, devoid of protection, that reveal a complete lack of awareness over power differentials. Bit like telling the victim of a robbery they just need to learn how to get along with burglars better.

Sometimes very liberal people will say things like, “can’t we all just get along” and Christians will say things like, “we have to love our enemies and turn the other cheek.” While those are sweet words and quite appropriate in context, they are not the answer to  every given conflict. Not all spats are conflicts between equals and not all conflicts are bad. In fact, conflict can be very healthy and necessary.

You probably can’t tell from my blogging, which can sound strident sometimes, but IB was born a co-dependent extraordinaire. That’s no joke, a “lay down in the railroad tracks and die for you” co-dependentA, “sure I’ll be happy to sit in the car and keep the engine going while you run into the bank with a mask on,” co-dependent. A “my very existence is all about you and my only regret is that I now seem to have no self to lay down anymore” co-dependent.

I am extremely lucky to still be alive.  I come from some dark and dangerous places. It took the Lord some 20 years to pry me out of that bondage, to free me of those chains, and He is right there should I ever slip back into those old patterns of behavior.

A co-dependent extraordinaire.

God bless my husband too, he knows me well. He has never suggested I “just need to get along with people better.” All in good humor here, but he has often suggested I need cut some people loose and to punch a few others in the head. He’s almost always right, too. I have come to trust his wisdom and to realize that he sometimes sees things I cannot.

I mention this because I want people to know there is a huge difference between dying to self for the Lord and dying to self for another person. Dying to self for another person is actually a form of idolatry, of people worship. I have seen cultians, New Age spiritualists, and even a handful of Christians, pervert this concept in order to manipulate, abuse, and control people.

It’s a sticky wicket because it can get all convoluted. Basically if anyone ever suggests you need to die to self, change who you are, relinquish yourself in order to be worthy of being friends with them, you got an issue and you need some new friends, stat. Real friends will accept you as you are. Real leaders will always point you to Jesus Christ and not to themselves.

A couple of bible verses that have really helped me, Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Including thy drunken uncle, thy dysfunctional relatives, thy abusive spouse, thy exploitative employer.

Luke 9:60, “Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” We have a calling, a job to do. It can be painful to walk away, in fact, I’m really bad at it, but there is a time to just let the dead bury the dead.

Matthew 10:27, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Those are some hard words, some strong meat, but nothing and nobody should ever come before our own relationship with the Lord.

Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” All in good humor here, but that would be HIS cross or YOUR cross and not a cross belonging to someone else. We are not called to forever carry someone else’s cross for them. Jesus is the One who paid their ransom and they can take up His burden, it is light.

I realize there probably are a few people in the world who are not givers, not people pleasers, not co-dependents, people who genuinely need to soften their heart, show a little kindness, exchange some ego for some empathy. However, it’s not arrogance, ego, or pride that suggests I am so rarely one of those people, it is praise for the Lord’s good work, it is rejoicing because He has taught me so well where I end and another begins, it is the sheer delight that comes from having been rescued, redeemed, from being so lovingly led to take the next exit off what could have so clearly been the highway to hell.

It is dying to self for Him, that has left me totally, delightfully, cheerfully imperfect.