You can imagine the angst I felt when the guy I had become great friends with, been on multiple dates with, and had spent the whole weekend with, showed up at church with his new girlfriend—without ever telling me or giving me a heads-up before they walked around the corner holding hands. What the—?! Yes, that is what I thought. Why didn’t he tell me he had a girlfriend in all those heart-to-hearts?
I felt moderately deceived and very hurt. I actually became angry the more I thought about it. He had taken me out the weekend before and mentioned nothing.
So what was I supposed to do? Forgive and say nothing? Be really angry and cause a scene? Forgive in my heart and be as kind and affirming as I always am? How do you be Christlike without being an emotional doormat?
With this problem in mind, I loved Alisa’s post, noting how Christ forgave but held people responsible for their actions:
(read full excerpt) . . . Relative to the idea of being Christlike, I believe this advice is being Christlike because you should be showing empathy (which includes respecting their feelings, rights, and needs, and trying to see it from their perspective), but you are also holding them responsible for their actions, which Christ often did. Consider the manner in which He addressed the Pharisees and Sadducees. He never lost control, He did not accept blame that was not His, and He showed respect through His actions and words even when correcting others and speaking the truth. He addressed their behaviors rather than demeaning their worth. —Alisa Snell
I often struggle with asserting my needs, and so in the past I would usually just let things brush by rather than have an awkward conversation or appear needy or demanding; however, Alisa asserts that this is not wise to do.
So I set a goal to express what I need in a relationship to be happy (i.e. I need consistency, understanding, sincere questions, and validation) and made a commitment to give $20 to a charity of my choice if I didn’t follow through.
It was scary, but I did it. I told him that: 1) my feelings were hurt; 2) I didn’t feel his behavior was respectful; 3) that I forgave him; and 4) if interested, I was willing to be friends but would need open communication from him.
Again, this is one of my greatest struggles, but I’m happy to know I don’t have to be an emotional doormat to be a Christian. I can assert my needs in a positive way.
I would love your thoughts, suggestions, and stories about similar experiences and what you did. How did it work out? This was scary for me and took a lot of courage and commitment. Did you feel the same? I’d love the strength and support your comments would give me.
Note from Alisa Goodwin Snell
I know sharing personal feelings may be scary for both men and women. However, the only way you will truly discover who someone is and how they really feel about you is if you take a risk and show enough faith in them to express your needs. If they have empathy, they will handle the situation well—especially if you communicate in a way that shows respect for their feelings. Furthermore, the more deeply a person sacrifices, the more deeply they love. If you do not share your feelings and needs with them, they will not have the opportunity to sacrifice for you—thus, you deny them the opportunity to love you as much as they would have loved you if they had sacrificed for you.
It may seem that because the man Lili liked had already chosen to be in a relationship with someone else that there was no point in sharing her feelings with him; however, this cannot be further from the truth. If she does not get in the habit of trusting men enough to share her needs, she won’t do it later. This is not about getting him to sacrifice more deeply for her; it’s about using the experience as an opportunity to practice lifelong skills that will serve her well in another relationship. If she doesn’t practice so she can improve her techniques now, she will have to muddle through the learning curve later, which can be even more anxiety producing. It’s always best to act in the present rather than to wait until some future date to change and improve yourself and your skills.
Leave your comments. I would love to see what you think or have experienced.
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