Here is a third excerpt from our friend Lynn’s comment last week that is well worth highlighting here in a separate post. Here it is:
Charm and charisma are super deceptive. Charisma is not character. The more charming and charismatic someone is, the higher of a risk you are in being taken advantage of – especially in church settings. They flatter. They deceive. They coax seemingly harmless information out of you that becomes a weapon to harm you once they’ve gotten what they’ve came for. I’ve learned to be very skeptical of those with charisma. Few may have good motives, but most don’t. They use that skill to get what they want and then move on to their next target.
Boundaries can save your life. They are the litmus test for how genuine your relationship with the other person is. If the other person balks when you set a boundary, you’ve seen where their care for you ends and where their own agenda begins. It’s healthy for you to say no to the people and things that do not serve you. God doesn’t require you to punish yourself by staying in a marriage, family, job, or any other relationship with someone who is abusing you. Make a plan to walk away if that’s the only way for you to get free. It will take wisdom and strategy if you find yourself in that place to get free, but it is so worth it. It’s made a world of difference in my life in the last 3 years.
Mutual reciprocity is a mandatory requirement for my relationships. As someone who tends to give more than I get in my relationships, I’ve decided that the relationships that I will invest in require both parties to be giving and getting from the relationship. I can’t be the only one calling, texting, and keeping the relationship alive. Those who love you should be willing to make an effort to contribute to the health of the relationship. Are there times when one person might do more than the other? Sure. But if it becomes a pattern, then be careful, it’s revealing the character of the other person and how they feel about you.
I could write much more about these points, but let me just comment on the last one because it is one that has been a repeated trap for me. When we have to be, as Lynn said, the one keeping a friendship/relationship alive, when WE have to be the spark plug that must fire if anything is ever going to happen, then something is terribly wrong. This is not the mark of a healthy relationship. I know that I have often kept blowing on the embers simply because I sensed that if I didn’t, the fire would die out. But then, what kind of friendship is that? A toxic one.
Lynn ended her comment with these words:
Trust your gut. If you get a weird feeling from someone, pay attention to it. Your body is trying to warn you. It knows something’s wrong. One of my biggest regrets is ignoring those warnings and having some very painful emotional, spiritual, and financial abuse as a result of it. When you want to belong and be loved, it’s easy to dismiss those warnings. We are wired for human connection. The challenge is for those of us who’ve been chronically abused, is that our baseline is screwed up. What we know to be “normal” is actually abusive. Fortunately, we don’t have to stay there. Just like how we learned the bad patterns as children, we can learn new patterns and rewire the brain to respond to them instead of the bad ones.
In Christ, there is freedom from that abuse. The scriptures help us renew our minds so we can grow in wisdom and become spiritually mature. In prayer, we communicate with God sharing all of who we are, asking for his wisdom, justice, and righteousness to prevail, trusting that no matter the outcome – whether it’s here or in eternity – the abusers will get their just end.