January 18, 2015

Maybe I'm Not a Doormat After All


If you've been reading this blog long then you know when I take a lengthy break, there's usually a stressful, emotionally-driven reason. My latest absence is no different.

But the good news is that the same situation is pushing me to write another personal post - something I haven't done in over a year.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is Extravagantly . . . A Personal Post. The basis for that post was my decision in life to love extravagantly, out of the ordinary, with everything I have.

To be honest, it's not much of a decision. I think it just happens to be the way God made me. Even on the days I would wish it away or find myself wanting to protect the fractured pieces of my worn, tired heart, I find I can't be anything different than what I am.

I don't even know how to love a little, or in measured increments. But from what I'm reading in my Bible, that seems to fit right in with God's instructions:
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.  
Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.  
Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.  
Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.  
Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.  
Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.  
Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.  
Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.  
Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. 
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  
If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.  
Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.  “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” 
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. 
Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. 
Romans 12:9-21 (MSG)
And all that is good and great. Seriously, I don't mean that flippantly. I'm glad God is clear on what He expects out of us in our relationships.

But you know what happens on the flip side of loving deeply? Getting hurt deeply. And as a believer, what comes after that is forgiving deeply. It's just not easy sometimes. Not when the hurt is still raw and you're still wondering why. Not when it's happened once again or when everyone else is asking why you keep giving chances.

Sometimes . . . sometimes you feel like a doormat. Like this approach to life has simply led to people taking advantage of you. But that passage, it says "Bless your enemies." That would be the ones that hurt you, right? Even though I think sometimes those enemies also go by the name of "friends" and "family". You know those loved ones who don't make you feel so much loved by their actions.

I have to tell you I'm tired. My heart is weary. My emotions are raw and my confidence is battered. But I will get up tomorrow and choose to love, choose to forgive - knowing full well that may mean that I'm opening myself up to be hurt all over again.

I read this quote this week, just when my aching heart needed it the most:
 When we willingly lay down our need for revenge, to fight back, or to justify ourselves, we are never being a doormat. We are exuding an unparalleled strength and other-worldly control. We are being Jesus to the lost, the weak, and the needy. Counter-culture. Christ-like.
So I will keep going, one foot in front of the other. Loving and forgiving wholeheartedly, all while learning how to set boundaries. Loving people doesn't mean that those people get away with doing things that are damaging to others. But it does mean continuing to choose to love, continuing to choose to forgive. Learning to face the pain and come out the other side because in the end . . . it's worth it.

It is worth it.