January 18, 2009

Left Behind in 2009, Part 2

--Photo Credit: Stanislav Gorb and Natural History Magazine

This is a photo of a fly's sticky foot. Now you know why they can walk on ceilings!

In the previous post, I discussed how relationships can change as we make God-ordained changes in our lives and how some relationships may be "left behind". Others, however, cannot be left behind and must be dealt with.

"You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you
are around!" Is there a real difference between these two? You may have heard or read this famous little phrase. BUT: it is a little too slick and simple for me and there are some major qualifiers on this statement. Let's look at these qualifiers.

There are some people we cannot easily (or with great difficulty) break away from. This group includes family members, co-workers, employees, neighbors, even church members. They are what I call the "sticky people." What are we going to do with these people when they are giving us fits, sabotaging our growth, or creating havoc on a daily basis?

I am obligated to say this: if you are in a domestic violence situation, you should physically remove yourself from that situation. Regardless of your gender, level of physical ability, level of financial dependence, number of children, etc., no one has the right to strike you, injure you, and control you by the threat of injury. If this applies to you, you know it.

I am saying this because commonly accepted statistical reports say that 1 out of 4 women (and 1 out of 9 men) are victims of domestic violence. Click here for more information.

Living with domestic violence (actual or threatened) can create this type of self-talk:

"As long as I keep the house clean, the kids quiet, and the meals prepared on time, he won't get angry and there won't be any problems."

"I have to get home before he starts calling around to find out where I am."

"I am sending the kids to my mother's this weekend because things may get bad when he finds out I dented the car in that parking lot."

"I can't wear that top on Friday; someone might see these marks. I'll wear it next weekend."

"I wish I could turn off this phone, but he'll have a fit if I don't answer right away."

Forgiveness can be given from a distance, from a safe place. Tragically, so many Christian women have been counseled to "forgive" their abusers rather than leave an unsafe home. In many cases, ignored or "forgiven and lived with" abuse has led to death or disabling injury.

I didn't originally intend this post to focus on domestic violence. Given the increasing amount of domestic violence happening in this recession, I felt it was irresponsible to address relationships without looking at something that dominates too many lives. Next time, I promise to share some ideas on how to deal with those who irritate and frustrate us (short of violence).

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