When I was younger, more often than not, I would sit in discomfort or pain rather than risk hurting someone’s feelings. I was terrified of telling a friend or especially my spouse the truth of a matter because it might “hurt their feelings” or make them uncomfortable or worse, angry with me; meanwhile, my migraine pounded my skull in two or my cramps just about killed me or the cookies burned or I missed an important phone call. And I used to justify it with something like “Jesus suffered too” or “Sacrifice is love and it will payoff in heaven” or some other gobbledygook. Yes, that’s a word, it means BS.
I had become a master of spinning the truth; a sort of spin doctor, to make what I was doing seem more spiritual. Well, it wasn’t. It wasn’t spiritual, Christian, loving, brave, sacrificial, or enlightened.
And I was a perfect target for manipulation. If someone wanted me to do something, all he or she had to do was to give me a certain look or say something that would make me feel guilty or a certain amount of obligation, and wow, I would jump as high as that person needed me to. Again, not very spiritual, Christian, loving, brave, sacrificial, or enlightened, on either of our parts.
I don’t do that as much anymore and there are two reasons for that. First, I started to believe that I was worthy of love and respect, and I learned how to set better boundaries with people. I’ve changed from thinking that I don’t deserve anything to I am worthy of everything good. Second, I have healthy relationships now. To be blunt, I got rid of the people in my life that would want to manipulate me and get me to do things just by giving me a look. Toxic people don’t care about your feelings and will shame you for them and do all kinds of things to get you to do what they want you to do. I had to break off all these relationships.
True Love (which includes loving myself and connecting with Love/God) has set me free, and now I can be honest and risk hurting my friend’s and husband’s feelings, and I can risk them being angry with me. I don’t worry because I love them and they love me and none of us are all that overly sensitive about things. I don’t set out to intentionally hurt their feelings, of course, but if I only have fifteen minutes more to chat on the phone, for example, I tell my friend, and she understands, and the same goes for me. We don’t take it personally. I have healthy relationships that reflect the wholeness I feel.
OK, it’s not always so easy and cut and dry, but I pay close attention to how I feel. If a relationship or a request makes me feel joyful, I say yes. If it makes my heart seize up and I get this feeling of dread, I know I’d better listen to that feeling and say no, thank you.
Sometimes feelings do get hurt, though, and sincere apologies need to be made. That’s how it is in relationships. It’s important to listen to the heart and emotions that God gave us and follow their lead.