What does “offensive behavior” mean to you? It will certainly mean something different to you than it does to me. You will also handle it differently than I will. This topic will always carry a huge variance because we have each lived such different lives.
What hurts and upsets me, may not even register on your angry radar. Or a certain action may hurt each of us, but we will choose to handle it differently. This makes total sense, because we are humans, and we feel and think differently based on our experiences.
Add in a bit of “turn the other cheek” and “forgive seven times seven” and things can get even more confusing. I am a huge fan of forgiveness, but I am also a ginormous fan of boundaries, and I believe you can be a great Christian and practice both.
Forgiving others for hurting you doesn’t mean that you allow them to continue to hurt you. God doesn’t suggest you become a doormat, in order to keep the peace, he definitely wasn’t. He forgives everyone who asks for forgiveness and takes actions to change. I try to do that as well. But I am really bad at forgiving people who not only don’t ask for forgiveness, but they also have a “that’s just the way I am” attitude. Where is the growth in that? When did it become okay to say hurtful things and then say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, get over it.”?
I am sure you have had people in your life that you just cut off, or need to cut out, from your life, because they don’t treat you with love, respect, and kindness. If you don’t leave your time with someone feeling better than when you arrived, you should not be giving that person time on your calendar.
But what do you do when there is a family relationship, and you aren’t “allowed” to separate yourself? Of course, every situation is different, but with help from my therapist, I have finally figured out what will work for me. Keep in mind, this will make some people talk, but at this point, I’m about out of grace and I’m chock full of boundaries built with bricks.
I can respect the person’s role in the hierarchy of my family. I can accept that my husband chooses to ignore and forgive. But I will no longer be made to seem like the crazy person. I will no longer forgive, just because “it’s the way they are”. I will no longer show up, just for appearance’s sake, knowing that I will take punches in the form of judgmental insults, while I am there.
I choose to stop showing up in situations that cause grief and heartache in my home afterwards. What good will come from continuing to show up? For 16 years I have thought it would be better, and every so often it isn’t awful. But it isn’t because I’m treated differently, it is because I am becoming immune to the rude comments. The thing is, I strongly believe that my children learn how to behave by watching me, and I never want them to believe that they have to show up, be talked down to, be ignored, or be treated unfairly, just in the name of “family.”
It was a huge wake up call at a recent event when something very hurtful happened, and when I apologized to my son, because I never wanted him to feel hurt or ignored by the person who has done it to me for 16 years, and he just said, “I’ve grown to expect it, so it doesn’t really phase me.”
Well, that is the last thing I want! I want my children to be phased when someone disrespects them. I do not want them to learn to suck it up! I want them to be able to discuss it, not learn to sweep it under the rug, where the rest of the offenses hide.
I can only imagine that my opinions are contrary to how some believe. But I also hope that for someone else, it will give you the freedom to protect your heart.
Out of respect for the family, I don’t say any of the things that I want to say, when I want to say them. But out of respect for myself, I can limit the number of times I am in a situation, forced to keep my mouth shut.
When someone’s response is always “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t mean to” what that tells me is that they don’t care enough about me to learn or find out, what will hurt me. In the early stages of relationships, that might work, but after 16 years, time is up.