Coffee with friends and repentance seem to go hand in hand for me. of course if you think of repentance as groveling at the burning altar of judgement with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, then that is certainly not what i am talking about. repentance means to change your mind and turn around. Paul, the super wise one, said don’t do things the way the world does them, but become who you were created to be by changing your mind. (slight paraphrase of Romans 12:2) What we believe carries so much weight – it’s basically what dictates everything we do… you can see a previous post with more along those lines HERE.
i have been struggling lately. yes, i admit it – big shocker i know. me, struggling with something… alas, it is true. i have always had the ability (gift or curse depending on my perspective) to “read the room” emotionally. Is someone struggling with insecurity over there in the corner? I’m gonna feel it and then go through my (hard fought for) process of working out wether i’m feeling insecure or wether that feeling belongs to someone else. it’s been a long road that i have mostly stumbled down, but i am happy to say i walk more than trip along now-a-days.
anyway, this is what i was talking with one of my dear friends about (who also weighs in strong on the empathy (feeler) scale) and i was telling her of my latest struggle when i began to remember what i have learned. i have learned that it is very tricky indeed when we react to things “pulled out of the air.” We (Feelers) often will pick up on what is going on in the murky sea of unspoken feelings and try to navigate the waters according to what (we deduce) will be the most peaceful outcome… peaceful as in the situation in which i encounter the least amount of confrontation. This, my friends, i have learned to be something called CoDependent behavior. CoDependency is a destructive cycle we get caught up in when we try to control one another. We manipulate situations in countless ways seeking to control the outcome or feelings of the other person. and most of the time we have NO idea we are doing it. it’s just something we learned to do in an attempt to “keep the peace” or to get what we want.
so i spent most of my life caught in this deadly cycle and i was baffled as to why my relationships kept failing. utterly. i cried more than i did anything else because loving people (which is what i was created to do) hurt so so bad. but withdrawing and being alone hurt even more. so i have struggled with depression and isolation pretty much for the simple reason i was too afraid to stop trying to control everyone and everything around me. i believed a really big lie. I believed that I could protect my heart through control – though i wouldn’t have called it that. i would have just said i was being sensitive to other’s feelings by not brining up something i knew would be uncomfortable, or that i was putting others before myself. and oh, how nice and pious (and selfless) it all sounds. but it’s a trap that will chew you up and spit you out every time, and all that’s left in the wreckage is a broken heart mired in isolation.
so this latest struggle… (deep breath) very simply, i got hurt. i got hurt because the thing i wanted to do, the thing i was created to do none-the-less, was not being asked of me. Knowing you can do something really well, knowing your potential and having a heart and vision to do that thing, and then having the door shut in your face can hurt…. really freaking bad. It’s hard not to believe all kinds of things that aren’t true when a door shuts… really deep things, about your value and worth and ability. and no matter how much you know these things aren’t the truth, it still causes pain. and lots of it if you’re anything like me, a feeler. and you probably are, or you wouldn’t have waded this far into this post.
So this morning over coffee i poured out my heart struggle to my friend, and the more i talked about it, the more clear it all became. I am withdrawing my heart to protect it from being crushed (again) by people that i once (fully) believed loved me very much. By withdrawing I am attempting (once again) to control my situation – bah! what a fallacy. control does not equal peace. in fact it so very much equals the opposite. While i have been mulling this situation over and over and over (ad nauseam) I have felt nothing but anxiety, heartache and fear. and depression. and struggle. and yes, you’re gonna feel those things to some extent while working out hard stuff sometimes, but i was stuck. and i was beginning to harden my heart. and i do not want to go back down that road. once your heart is hard toward someone it is one of life’s truest difficulties to let it be soft again.
and there, sitting in my van talking with my friend (with Leo strapped securely in his seat watching cartoons on the DVD player – can i say praise Jesus for mini vans???!)
it hit me.
full in the face.
i am trying to control things as much as i feel like someone is trying to control me. i am equally guilty. again. but the good news is it’s an easy fix. haha, yeah ok maybe not easy, but simple. “simple.”
change my mind. repent. just like Paul said – and just like that I am changed. i choose to believe that I do not have to protect my heart by controlling the world (people) around me and get mired in codependency. i choose to believe that the Father will and does protect me. and just like that… peace. tangible. wonderful. glorious. peace.
and resonating through me like a cathedral bell i hear – and now let the peace that passes understanding guard your heart and mind.
peace guards my heart and guards my mind from all those painful thoughts taking root, keeping my heart from hardening. oh JOY!! who knew there was so much power in peace.
So for me, “letting” peace guard me is as “simple” as choosing to believe i am safe in Him and choosing to not withdraw from relationships where i am loved. maybe i am not loved perfectly by these people, but since i am safe, since i am guarded by peace, I can be at rest and be with them and love them back (also not perfectly)… But His love is perfect and since it’s doing its work and having it’s way in me, i’m closer to perfect love all the time… but that’s a thought for another day.
so choose peace, my friends. and choose love. life is so much better when you do.