A few years ago I realized that it was time to make a few changes. I had spent the majority of my life seeking to please others, hungry for their acceptance, their approval, but most of all hungry for their love. I realized that somewhere along the line I had become the preverbial “people pleaser”, willing to forego even the basest forms of respect in order to keep people in my life. I believed that if I just worked harder, did more, allowed more, that eventually things would change. I firmly believed that it was indeed all my fault when things did not go well and I was treated poorly or hurt. Somewhere along the line I accepted the lie that I simply was not worthy of being treated well, let alone to be loved well.
Eventually, I just broke.
I knew I wanted things to change, so I got some help. I started to see a therapist, and I started the hard business of really learning about myself and what desperately needed to change. It turns out there is a whole other world out there. A world where people have boundaries. A world where people say no, expect respect and walk away from those who emotionally use and abuse them. There is a world where family doesn’t treat you like junk, and children honor their parents. A world where people believe they are worthy of love. I use to think that loving well meant that you just endured all things. Now I realize true love means sometimes having to say, “I love you too much to let you treat me this way.”
I have been learning who I really want to be. What sort of daughter, wife, mother and friend do I desire to be?
Simple. I want to love, really love– wisely, passionately, deeply. Thankfully, God is patiently teaching me what love really looks like. My education began with understanding who I no longer desire to be–the victim. I have been digging in deep, combing through the words from the author of love. One story has been on my mind for weeks now, it has challenged and broken me in the best possible ways. It is found in Luke, it is the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man:
“Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19
The fact that Jesus ended up healing the man was not what struck me. I found myself thinking about the men who carried the paralytic. I tried to put myself there, watching this unfold. Here is this man, body broken, laying on a mat. Did he want to get well? Let’s just assume the paralytic actually wanted a working body, if given the chance. Why did the men decided to carry him? I am sure they had busy lives, and there were many other things they could have done with their time. Let’s not miss the fact that they actually carried him. Have you ever carried another adult before? I am just going to go with saying, in the least, they were committed, caring and strong. They cared enough for this man to literally carry him to Jesus so that he could receive healing.
In my world, that is pretty impressive if we just stop the story there. How many would go to such great lengths to help another? However, when they arrived at the house where Jesus was they realized that they could not actually get to him because of the great crowd. What do these guys do? Do they give up and say, well, we tried? No! They refuse to stop, they battle forward, determined to press on to the goal–Jesus. They decide to carry him up the stairs to the roof. They carried him up stairs! Carrying him at all would have been a workout, but to carry him up stairs is an even deeper commitment. Then, they actually break through the roof of the house and lower him down to Jesus. Can you just picture that scene? Can you imagine how humbling and amazing it was to be the paralytic? I am floored.
What a beautiful picture of love. Who was blessed more that day, the paralytic or the friends who carried him to Jesus?
I am challenged. I want to be that sort of friend. I want to carry those who want to get well to Jesus. I want to fight for them, press in with them until they get the victory that God desperately wants them to have. I want to weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice. I want them to know that they are important enough to fight for. I am learning that I want to walk in that level of love.
No matter what I choose there is no escaping the hard that is present in relationships. So, instead of attempting to hide from the hard, I would rather pick the hard that leads to the fruit of abundant life. For there is one thing I may have finally learned; true love leads to freedom, healing and beautiful growth–not bondage, brokenness and despair.