It’s a wonderful feeling when we discover the kind of inner strength that allows us to stand for what we believe in.
It could be something simple like finding out a checker at the local market made a mistake and over charged us. We realize we have a right to set things straight and so we return and ask that the error be corrected. It could be that we finally gain courage to confront a friend who has repeatedly wronged us, intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe she’s always made light of the way we dress. We reach a point where we’ve had enough and we politely tell her so. Or maybe a serious offense has taken place. Maybe we’ve forever been a doormat; we’ve let others walk on us, leaving their footprints on our soul with their rude comments, or manipulative behavior, or abusive mistreatment. Something in us cries out that enough is enough. We come to the sure knowledge that others are responsible for their own happiness, that we are responsible for our own, and so we make the decision to end a relationship. We walk away.
When courage is gained to stand up to any measure of injustice we feel we’ve been dealt, how do we react to the inevitable fact that more injustice is sure to come? Do we walk through life with our guard up—waiting to put the next person and the next in their place—determined we will never be victimized again?
If so we’re missing out on a lot.
This morning I read a wonderful quote by author Wayne Dyer: “"Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world... Same world."
Not so long ago I wouldn’t have fully understood the implication of those words.
I was raised to believe the glass is always half empty—not only half empty, but that someone deliberately emptied it to be unkind. As I made my way through my adult life I carried the belief that there must always be someone to bear the blame for my heartache or misfortune. Sadly, I distanced myself from opportunities to know good and loving people who had good and loving intentions. It was a blessing to discover that such people indeed exist—in abundance.
I’ve also discovered that people who suffer great emotional distress at the hands of others sometimes walk around with boxing gloves on. In their determination to never be hurt again they can, in the extreme, go from victim to victimizer.
I’ve thought about this a lot. Once you find the courage to stand up for yourself, once you find you have the strength to pull yourself up from where you’ve fallen or been thrust, how do you stay in a place of peace and sureness without falling prey to manipulation and/or abuse again? Without becoming so callous you become the one who is prone to hurt others?
My personal belief is that it’s as simple, and as complex, as forgiveness. If you harbor ill feelings, if you extend any measure of energy to carry a grudge, over time those feelings snowball, hostility can set in. Forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a return to mistreatment—there are some people, even in our own families, who because of their hostilities and unwillingness to accept personal responsibility need to be loved from a distance.
Whether the circumstances are emotional or physical, there will always be times when we must choose to take a stand to protect ourselves and what we believe in. Times when just a few words will suffice. Times when we have to fight tooth and nail for what is right, both in our own behalf and in behalf of others that we love and respect. But like so many other things in our lives forgiveness is a choice. To live life to its fullest we can’t go around with boxing gloves on. If we did how could we use our hands to effectively comfort those in need of encouragement, touch lives for the better, and uphold what is good and true? Our hands would become atrophied in their ability to effect positive outcomes. Likewise, if we use our voices to frequently condemn they become dulled in their ability to praise, extend love, and express gratitude.
What do you think?
How do you listen and communicate--relate to those around you when you’re under fire--and maintain your emotional equilibrium as you strive to protect your personal rights and stand for what you believe in?