Why Being a Peaceful Christian Doesn't Mean Being a Pushover
Do you REALLY know the difference between prayerful and pushover?
If you’ve lived with an addict, you may have found yourself becoming the unofficial peacemaker.
You learned how to manage tension and prevent tempers from flaring. You may push away your feelings or overlook wrong behaviours because your world revolves around keeping other people happy.
If you’re like I was, you probably didn’t see it at the beginning (or now!). But the “peacemaker” mentality is more than likely there.
The sober one shoulders life’s responsibilities. I find this especially true for mothers because we're already programmed to "take care of” and often put ourselves last.
Despite our best efforts, if we revert to prayer because disrupting the peace gives us anxiety, we are being pushovers, not peacemakers. (Anxiety? Check out: Practical Ways to Pray for Peace When You Have Anxiety)
I Was a Pushover
I clearly remember the day I realized my marriage had crossed a line into emotionally abusive. Googling all things addiction-related, I came across an article where a woman had a similar situation to mine. What shocked me most was the behaviour she described sounded exactly like my husband. I had him read the article and even he agreed it was similar.
It was a real wake up call.
I had never thought of myself as a weak person, but there I was, allowing someone else to dictate my emotional health.
Compared to other kinds of abuse, emotional abuse can sound fluffy but don’t brush it off. Although not every abuse scenario is a dangerous one, it's a sign serious that change is needed.
Some days, my husband was great. After all, he is a fun, sweet, loving, caring man (oh, and good looking, too! Have I mentioned yet how handsome he is?). Other days, he was selfish, pushy and aggressive. He would manipulate me, play off my emotions to get what he wanted out of me, bully me if he didn’t get his way, whine, complain and tell me (passive-aggressively) in so many words or less that I was boring and basically... I suck. Obviously, there was something wrong because that wasn't true. I used to be fun, interesting and adventurous, too!
My husband was also secretive. In recovery, it one of the first signs I knew he had changed because he became very transparent. Before, I was always guessing about what he was doing or where he was. If I asked, I received vague answers. It's was almost admirable how well he could answer without ever really answering the question at all.
I felt like I lived with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; It was the man I loved vs. the monster inside.
If it's your spouse who's struggling, please know without a shadow of a doubt that God didn't design marriage to be that way. You are not in the normal, healthy, loving, supportive relationship how God intended.
Red flags, my friends.
Looking back, when I thought I was being tough, I was being submissive.
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” -John 8:32
Freedom from their addiction will feel good for you
Realizing my husband’s addiction was controlling him, and therefore controlling me was what finally set me free.
I did everything I knew to do (which was nothing, I knew absolutely nothing!) and I let God fight for me. I wish I had known enough to let God take over from the beginning!
Through my husband’s addiction, I saw how much God loved me, which I had never known as I know now.
Preacher: "God loves you."
Me: "Yes, I hear you... but when is he going to save me from this mess?"
The truth is, you and I are daughters of the Creator of the universe. We were created to be holy and righteous. We are worth more than gold. We not only deserve to be treated with respect, but we deserve to be adored and loved without boundary.
Clearly, I had to stop being a pushover
To regain control over my own happiness and not be destroyed in the storm of my husband, I stepped away from the chaos of his addiction. I physically left him but made it clear I wasn't abandoning our marriage.
A.K.A. If you cheat on me, we are done.
Every expert I saw told me I needed to make boundaries, but how do you make boundaries when you don’t know what it means? Emotionally distraught in the thick of the problem, I could not create boundaries. When I asked what the boundaries were supposed to be, I was told it’s personal, and it’s different for everyone.
If you’re reading this and you’re like, “Ah! This is my life!” I did figure out those boundaries! Check out our signature eCourse on creating Godly boundaries, UnBound Me. It will walk you through the process of making boundaries in an emotional fog in the simplest way possible.
Save the course and pray about it. In the meantime, my advice would be to write down your ideal relationship. Think about how you want to be treated. Do you totally hate it when your loved one swears at you? That should be a boundary.
Whatever it is, make your boundaries based on your needs and desires, not on how you anticipate they'll react. And once you make them, don't let them break them.
Remember, turning to prayer and being a peacemaker, doesn’t mean you have to make everyone happy.
Let me say that again!
Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean you have to make everyone happy.
What's a Peacemaker?
A peacemaker is someone who brings God’s peace to others because true peace comes from a relationship with my man, Jesus. They make peace between God and Man, not Man and Man. They patiently plant and water spiritual seeds to grow good crops (people crops!).
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
“Wait. I think I'm being a pushover and not a peacemaker, now what do I do?”
Don’t stay in the presence of an abuser, emotional or not. You may think you can handle it (and maybe you have been managing it), but it’s just not worth it. God doesn’t want us to live that way. Your loved one can live with a friend or family member (or in their car for goodness sake, it’s not your problem) until the physical/drug/alcohol/sexual/emotional abuse stops. If they don't go, you go. If you don’t have anyone to lean on, go to a women’s shelter. It’s going to be hard, but it’s necessary. If you don’t stand up for yourself and stop the abuse, you’re saying it’s okay. If you have children, this is especially important because they’re looking to you to see what a healthy relationship looks like. Be brave. Be independent. Miss Independent.
Love them and forgive them. We are all sinners. God put you in our loved one's life for a reason. Plant seeds of faith by being an example of peace and forgiveness (even if you don't want to, just do it because God said you have to. Ha!).
Be wise and realistic. Addicts need to hit their bottom, even if it’s not a rock. So let them fall. It will hurt both of you. In the end, you will help them by making them responsible for their own behaviour and consequences. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Be gentle. A soft word turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). Speak only when you can speak. Don’t scream. Don’t yell. Don’t spit out sarcasm (this is definitely my weak point, I'm a screecher). It helps to pray before you talk about something. God WILL tell them things for you, relief! You don't always have to say it.
Be willing to yield to God's healing process. What does that mean? It means you need to be patient. Know when you’re hitting a wall. Yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to move in your loved one's heart. In the meantime, more prayer, more boundaries.
Be full of mercy. Be full of grace. Be sincere. Be full of hope! You will witness to your loved one and those around you because, "…when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV) Plus, this is going to make you a way better person. God wastes nothing!
Fight Satan with joy. Don’t let him steal your life; happiness is contagious. Would you want to clean up your act and become a Christian like you right now? (I’m guessing no) So why would they? Love in a big way and let’s hope they’re going to want a piece of whatever you’ve got!
LOVED THAT? DON’T MISS...
*Previously titled, “How to be a Peacemaker Without Being a Pushover”. Updated 06/27/19.