Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Myth Busters, Relationships Edition: Humility and Sacrifice

So often the clichés that are a standard feature of Churchianity are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture, and are actually dangerous doctrines made of men.  I recently read a post on Gentle Christian Mothers by Crystal Lutton that exposed a couple of lies that many of us who grew up in the church bought into.  She graciously granted me permission to repost it here.  I know that my family has benefited in many ways thanks to Crystal's writings.  Please check out her site--she has so much more to share on grace based living!  <3
Two doctrines that were utterly toxic to me, especially when I was younger.

1) It has to be less of you and more than God


2) Love is a choice and involves sacrifice.

Are these two statements true? Yes. BUT . . . the first statement is NOT something we can DO, and the second statement requires a very clear view of the situation in order to understand what "Love" is and what the necessary sacrifice must be. It's not what *you* consider to be sacrifice--it's what lines up with God's Word (even if it costs you).

But these things were taught without healthy explanation or interpretation--and without healthy modeling of what it looks like.

I am an ENFP, sanguine, Type 3 (get it done) woman--and what the above played out as in my life looked something like this:

I meet a guy--he doesn't know or really love the Lord. That's okay--I love God and I can share God's love with him. (It's important to know this was NOT "missionary dating". I was "loving" them as they were and sacrificially willing to be with them even if they weren't able (due to whatever pain was in their life) to know and love God. I figured if they experienced unconditional love they would be able to receive it from Him.

We start dating and my feelings are strong and we get close really quickly--emotionally and physically--but obviously not spiritually because he doesn't love God.

So now we're involved and I'm invested and I'm realizing it's vital for this relationship to be healthy for them to treat me well but I can't argue for what I need and expect based on God's Word (which he doesn't respect), so I sacrifice and try to deal with what is coming my way and remind myself that love requires sacrifice.

When things aren't working out in the relationship I remind myself that it always has to be less of me and more of God so I try to make myself smaller. I try to not react with emotion (more of me) and instead turn more to prayer and other spiritual pursuits.

This cycle continues until I have no boundaries left in tact, there is none of me in the relationship and, because the other person doesn't love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength or love me as themselevs, there is also no God there anymore (I've stopped anything overtly Christian if it makes them upset).

In truth, no one can *make* there be less of them and more of God. Not only does God create us in our own unique way and ask us to BE who we are (albeit a holy version of ourselves if we are saved ) but it is most often that being who we are is what is needed in a situation we are in--that's why we're there and not someone else.

And, sacrifice means putting God's Word (not another person) ahead of everyone and everything. The key is not how well we can love another person--but how much we love God first so that our love of the other person is an overflow of the love we have with God. When all 3 parties in a relationship are in unity of purpose and vision we all move together in an ever increasing love

I think the last thought I'm having as I write this is what has most changed my life recently. I've learned that "humility" is understood by the Jewish mind as meaning this:

you take up exactly the amount of space in the world that you need. No more, no less.

and "as you need" does NOT mean "as you can get by with--and if you're someone who can sacrifice a lot you will require less space so do that."

God created you to occupy a certain amount of space in this world. You are rightfully to have all of that space. You don't have to feel guilty for it--or bemoan it.

To take up more is arrogance; to take up less is self-abasement. Both are insults to someone created in the image of God. Neither is something we should require or enable of someone else.

When we give our space to someone we encourage the sin of arrogance; when we try to take more space for ourselves from others we are encouraging the sin of self-abasement.

Are you taking up the amount of space God created you to fill in this world? And in your marriage?


Pippi said...

Thankyou very much for this post. It puts into words a lot that I haven't been able to explain.
My mom reminded me the other day that she once warned me not to lose my soul trying to save Mark's. Too bad I had absolutely no frame of reference whatsoever as to what that might mean. Of course I nodded and said "I know," like I did every time she tried to give me her controlling, religious, but still incredibly vague lectures. However, all it really meant to me was "Don't get swept into a wordly lifestyle just because he does." And that I could handle. Unfortunately, that's not at all what it meant, but it took me years of actually being allowed to observe reality for myself, to realize that.

Jenny said...

How is a person to know how much space God wants him/her to take up? What exactly is too much?

dulce de leche said...


Jenny, that is an important question. Crystal could probably answer more eloquently (and maybe more accurately!), but to me, the only way to take up too much space would be to take away from the space other people were meant to have. To try to go beyond healthy boundaries and to attempt to prevent others from taking up the space they were meant to have. That might mean being controlling so that they don't have the opportunity to fully exercise their callings and giftings, or it could even mean "rescuing" them so that they never experience the consequences of their own choices.

I would also say that there are some things that we can never be to other people--we cannot, no matter how hard we try, satisfy every emotional or spiritual need in another person. If we are trying to fill something inside someone else that only God can satisfy, we are attempting to take up more space than we can or should. <3

Maria said...

Great post, Crystal.