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Oceanblue

This book versus Christian ideals

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Oceanblue

I just wanted to post on something I had been thinking about earlier. I'm sorry if it's jumbled; I am really tired but I wanted to be sure I opened this up for discussion.

I just wanted to mention the difficulty this type of book has created for me in the past versus what we are taught from the bible. it really flies in the face of what we are taught...that being patient and kind and never giving up and turn the other cheek are all good things that we should be encouraged to do more.

I was just curious if anyone else has the same trouble when reading books that talk about turning off your "niceness"?

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moongoddess

I was just curious if anyone else has the same trouble when reading books that talk about turning off your "niceness"?

I do not believe that the book suggests turning off your niceness, rather it suggests you not be a doormat....

*MG*

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blackbird

Still haven't had a chance to re-read the first chapter, so I can't join in quite yet, but I wanted to jump in on this question.

As many of you know, last spring when I was really, really depressed, my attorney invited me to her yoga class. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but it's a Holy Yoga class. She knows that I question my faith, but invited me to give it a try; she knew I was teetering on the edge and needed something physical to expend all of that anxiety and a chance to connect with people. The class changed my life.

During our practice, we meditate on some scripture. At first, it made me cringe, because I felt like a total fraud...but then I began to see that, even if I didn't "believe," I could still internalize the positive messages. Most nights, I find something that resonates with me.

Then, there was last night.

I can't recall it correctly, but it was something about not engaging in selfish or vain pursuits, and instead always putting others before yourself. All I could think of was Noob! And I had a hard time focusing on my yoga, because all through class, I kept thinking....wait a second...this message is doing these women a HUGE disservice. They cannot serve others, if they do not take care of themselves first!

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Stormy

I've had difficulty with this, because I was raised to believe that my needs are last, if you are a giving, unselfish person like God intended. That I should "turn the other cheek", that asking or requiring anything from others is self-centered and selfish (and bad).

But I've come to feel that this isn't all-encompassing and that it has more to do with our outlook, rather than every single action we take. First we do have to have our own needs met. If we don't, we wither (physically, emotionally and spiritually) and are incapable of giving to others. Obviously, God did not intend for us to starve to death so others could eat, or give all our money away so others have a house, etc. If we end this 'getting our needs met' at the physical, then we are neglecting the rest of our being...mind and soul. So I don't think that is what God had in mind. I think that this partly applies to living in excess while others go without. Helping others by donating goods, offering our time and energy and skills when at all possible to those who need help is what he intended. Not damaging our own 'self' in order to help others. Boundaries are to protect ourselves, not to demand things from others. Asking for what you require in order to get your needs met is no more selfish than locating food when you are hungry. Forcing or bullying or manipulating in order to get those needs met is what is selfish and bad.

I think he wants us to not hold grudges (to forgive) and to not seek retribution for harm from others (turn the other cheek and let God handle it), and don't let the difficulties of life fill us with anger, hatred and bitterness (love others). What I don't think he wants is for us to put ourselves in harms way. He made us intelligent and gave us many tools to deal with danger (gut instincts, ability to reason, fight or flight response) so if we ignore them and stay in dangerous situations we are literally going against what God intended for us.

That's how I view it anyway.

Carry on :)

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nooblette

I'm SO glad you brought this topic up OB!

Its one of the many topics inside my head that I'd like to think through further and figure out how I feel on the subject because I don't believe the way either of my parents handle this, nor the rest of the church even, is correct or a correct definition of what Christianity means.

I actually really appreciate John Shores' blogs because he is a Christian who is a more balanced perspective imo.

Its really a balance you know...between complete self-lessness and narcissism. I believe many of us on this forum are what I personally call Anti-Narcs. People who have lost all touch with their own needs and desires, to the extent that when their body PLEADS with them for attention they believe its Selfishness or Sinfulness. Some of us have become this way through our religious upbringing, but Perc pointed out in one of my other threads that she was brought up this way without any religious aspect involved.

so here is my scale:

Narcissism------------Balanced and Healthy--------------Anti-Narcissism

I believe Narcs often hook up with the Anti-Narcs because they find someone who will continue to give of themselves for the Narc's needs.

Now about the Christian aspect:

God does NOT want us to sacrifice our very lives for people who are doing bad things. I don't believe this. God does NOT want us to be doormats. I don't believe this! I believe this is a misconstrued version of some of what the Bible says, and the taking of certain verses out of context. Jesus was NOT a doormat! Jesus took a whip to the temple and threw over the money-changers tables! He didn't sit back and say "We should continue to let the prostitution of the temple take place because it might hurt those men's feelings if I stop it....we'll just forgive and forget! Yay for love and patience!"

He said, "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" not "be as helpless and stupid as a dove, thats how good Christians are! And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love! Yay for stupidity!" :)

I have come to believe this past year that there is a CORE of time and energy we need to keep our selves healthy. As Anti-Narcs we're taught and conditioned to GIVE ALL of our excess time and energy + the time and energy out of our CORE because we're taught thats what we should be, self-sacrificing. When in fact thats not the case, we SHOULD be generous and self-sacrificial with our EXCESS time and energy, but we SHOULD NOT give away from the CORE that we need to SURVIVE. Thats the balancing act. A Narc will not give ANYTHING for ANYONE unless they get something in return. They don't give from the excess or ever even get down to the CORE because they don't WANT to give or help anyone or anything. An Anti-Narc is so self-sacrificial and doesn't have a sense of where their excess or core stops or starts because they aren't even aware of their own needs. They give and give and give and give until there's nothing left of themselves and they're completely out of touch with the starved and dehydrated state they're in until they're dead or nearly dead. The BALANCE comes from realizing where your excess ends and your core begins. And as Christians we should be self-sacrificing, aware of others needs around us, and generous with out time and energy from the EXCESS. BUT we should NEVER NEVER give out of our CORE that we need to survive and take care of ourselves and our families.

Something she touches on this book that I like, is how we Nice Girls are comfortable shouldering ALL the blame and responsibility for anything and everything. I think us Christian Nice Girls will go to church and listen to a sermon on self-sacrifice and AGAIN feel guilty for not giving and doing more and then we'll leave church that week and look for MORE opportunities to be self-sacrificing and generous with our time and money. We're SO FOCUSED on finding more faults and more guilt in ourselves that we don't realize that THAT sermon wasn't MEANT for US! It was meant for the narcs in the crowd, NOT the anti-narcs!!!

As a Christian I don't believe Jesus came and died for us so that we might be unhappy and miserable in our time here on earth. He didn't give his life so I could give my Evil Lady neighbor 101 chances to hurt me and my kids without standing up for them.

My mom homeschooled me until high school and would change my school curriculum every year like and ADHD person on steroids! I've studied Catholic, Baptist, Mennonite, Secular and who knows what other version of history, along with stories from each of those religions demonstrating the wonderfulness of their particular beliefs. One story from the Mennonite book has ALWAYS bothered me. It was about a missionary family, I think is central or south America. They got attacked by some terrorist guerrilla people. The men were hyped on drugs and with weapons or something? I don't remember exactly.....but they attacked the wife, and the children, and raped them repeatedly on their kitchen table. The father stood there and did nothing and didn't try to stop them. Now maybe they would have all been killed if they had fought back? I don't know....but the moral that was taught through this story was that Jesus was a pacifist, and as good Christians we should never never fight back, but always cooperate and basically watch our ten year old daughter and our wife be attacked and raped repeatedly without trying to stop it...to demonstrate our love and Jesus.

My mom was actually the one who pointed out to me the twisted logic there. How is that right? Maybe they didn't have any other options, but my mom pointed out that she'd rather die first than let me raped repeatedly by psychotic people who you don't know for sure if they'd kill you when it was over or not anyways?

I don't believe its EVER right to stand back and not say something when you see someone being hurt. I think we SHOULD fight. I think we SHOULD stand up for what is right. I don't believe the Bible means to stand silently and allow bad people to hurt more people because its not right to stand up for yourself and people that you love.

Now that story is an extreme version of that self-sacrificial teaching-but its the same thing really, the same thing that I was taught. My mom might have been able to point out how she didn't agree with THAT story, but she taught me to do that in other ways in my day to day life. I don't believe its right. Its not right to give and sacrifice from the LIFE that God gives us and treat it like it wasn't WORTH Jesus dying for.

Thats what we're doing you know? When we treat ourselves so poorly and we lose touch with our own needs, and we put ourselves in hurtful dangerous relationships and we don't take care of ourselves, we're saying that what Jesus died for, isn't WORTH our time and energy to take care of properly. And I think thats wrong. Jesus died to save a wretch like me, but he didn't create me a wretch, and once he saves me....I'm not going to keep living like a wretch or treating myself like a wretch. He saved what he created because he saw VALUE in me. And I need to VALUE myself and VALUE what he did for me by NOT giving away my time and my energy to people who do NOT value me like they should. That would like trashing HIS sacrifice for me. And I don't think thats right.

Sorry for the uber-sized textwall. I need to still think this through and develop my thoughts on this subject. Thanks for bringing it up though!

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Oceanblue

Wow, awesome posts Stormy and Noob! It really truly resonates as truth to me.....BUUUUUT (lol the dreaded but!)...

Do you all have scriptures that can back up that belief? I don't mean that in a condescending tone, I'm honestly curious. Because so many scriptures seem to me to point out being self-sacrificing and to me, that can be a big red flag. We are on a "relationships" thing at our church, and some of it really triggers me. It's been over a year since I went to church after I made myself vulnerable by revealing my struggle with forgiveness in the context of abuse...how do we forgive someone who hurts us repeatedly? I explained my dilemma in letter to my pastor, only to have him share it with his wife without my permission, and than with my friend who worked there and had her pass on the message that he couldn't "help" me because I was a woman. Errrr....

I'm in a new state now, and started going to church again...but still...the messages are really different when you look at them through the eyes of someone whose been abused.

"Love never gives up, love forgives, love always hopes.." I hear condemnation in it, because I don't have that hope. It sounds like it's saying to me not to give up on my marriage and that flys in the face of what my heart feels. Why would God want me to hurt?

We should forgive like God does--forgive and forget--it is sent as far as east is to west. It's almost impossible without a amnesia. And how can that be safe???

Forgiving Seventy times seven.

......Ugh.

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Stormy

Well yes, we should forgive. To forgive means to not carry that horrible grudge around with you...festering, boiling, poisoning you, filling you with hate and vengeance. God doesn't want that. But forgiveness does NOT mean to condone, or approve of, or to stick around for more mistreatment.

Here, this writer said it better than I can:

Forgiveness: What it is and What it Isn't

by Rose Sweet

Why do we find it so hard to forgive?

One reason we resist forgiving is that we don't really understand what forgiveness is or how it works. We think we do, but we don't.

Most of us assume that if we forgive our offenders, they are let off the hook — scot-free — and get to go about their merry ways while we unfairly suffer from their actions. We also may think that we have to be friendly with them again, or go back to the old relationship. While God commands us to forgive others, he never told us to keep trusting those who violated our trust or even to like being around those who hurt us.

The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it is and isn't. The next step is giving yourself permission to forgive and forget, letting go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries.

Granting forgiveness

* Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook . We can and should still hold others accountable for their actions or lack of actions.

* Forgiveness is returning to God the right to take care of justice. By refusing to transfer the right to exact punishment or revenge, we are telling God we don't trust him to take care of matters.

* Forgiveness is not letting the offense recur again and again. We don't have to tolerate, nor should we keep ourselves open to, lack of respect or any form of abuse.

* Forgiveness does not mean we have to revert to being the victim. Forgiving is not saying, "What you did was okay, so go ahead and walk all over me." Nor is it playing the martyr, enjoying the performance of forgiving people because it perpetuates our victim role.

* Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. We can forgive someone even if we never can get along with him again.

* Forgiveness is a process, not an event. It might take some time to work through our emotional problems before we can truly forgive. As soon as we can, we should decide to forgive, but it probably is not going to happen right after a tragic divorce. That's okay.

* We have to forgive every time. If we find ourselves constantly forgiving, though, we might need to take a look at the dance we are doing with the other person that sets us up to be continually hurt, attacked, or abused.

* Forgetting does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offenses. Some people are obnoxious, mean-spirited, apathetic, or unreliable. They never will change. We need to change the way we respond to them and quit expecting them to be different.

* Forgiveness is not based on others' actions but on our attitude. People will continue to hurt us through life. We either can look outward at them or stay stuck and angry, or we can begin to keep our minds on our loving relationship with God, knowing and trusting in what is good.

* If they don't repent, we still have to forgive. Even if they never ask, we need to forgive. We should memorize and repeat over and over: Forgiveness is about our attitude, not their action.

* We don't always have to tell them we have forgiven them. Self-righteously announcing our gracious forgiveness to someone who has not asked to be forgiven may be a manipulation to make them feel guilty. It also is a form of pride.

* Withholding forgiveness is a refusal to let go of perceived power. We can feel powerful when the offender is in need of forgiveness and only we can give it. We may fear going back to being powerless if we forgive.

* We might have to forgive more than the divorce. Post-divorce problems related to money, the kids, and schedules might result in the need to forgive again and to seek forgiveness ourselves.

* We might forgive too quickly to avoid pain or to manipulate the situation. Forgiveness releases pain and frees us from focusing on the other person. Too often when we're in the midst of the turmoil after a divorce, we desperately look for a quick fix to make it all go away. Some women want to "hurry up" and forgive so the pain will end, or so they can get along with the other person. We have to be careful not to simply cover our wounds and retard the healing process.

* We might be pressured into false forgiveness before we are ready. When we feel obligated or we forgive just so others will still like us, accept us, or not think badly of us, it's not true forgiveness — it's a performance to avoid rejection. Give yourself permission to do it right. Maybe all you can offer today is, “I want to forgive you, but right now I'm struggling emotionally. I promise I will work on it.”

* Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It's normal for memories to be triggered in the future. When thoughts of past hurts occur, it's what we do with them that counts. When we find ourselves focusing on a past offense, we can learn to say, "Thank you, God, for this reminder of how important forgiveness is."

* Forgiveness starts with a mental decision. The emotional part of forgiveness is finally being able to let go of the resentment. Emotional healing may or may not follow quickly after we forgive.

Excerpted from A Woman's Guide to Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce. Copyright © 2001 Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Only forgiveness can release us from a life of hatred and bitterness. "Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long one," wrote Lewis B. Smedes in Shame and Grace. "We may need some time before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed en route. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us."
From What Forgiveness Isn't with Bible verses and quotes.

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nooblette

stormy thanks for putting up the forgiveness definition, I need to think about that....I need to read it again later so I can digest it!

OB there is a book addressing abusive people from a Christian perspective by Jan Silvious, but she doesn't call them abusers she calls them "fools" and the book is called Foolproofing Your Life. In that book she uses all kinds of scripture, mostly from Proverbs discussing what God thinks of abusers, and how God doesn't require us to be Nice Girls regarding Abusers, instead we should be "Wise" and learn to recognize it, address it, and get it out of our lives. I can't find my copy of the book right now, but I'll look for it because I'd like to finish it. THere's another book I saw on Amazon when I bought The Nice Girl Syndrome called something like No More Christian Nice Girl or something like that, I was interested in reading it because I was curious how they "married" the two concepts of Being Christian and not being a Nice Girl. I hope they brought them together logically and didn't shove another misconstrued Christian fallacy into the mix. I'd like to read someone else's opinion on this topic because I haven't fully developed my own yet, and I'd love to pick up someone else's coattails on the thought process so I could have more clarity without having to do the heavy brainwork involved :P

I know what I KNOW right now, that God doesn't want me to put up with people being rude to me and just smile back like I use to do.

I realize now, that by allowing people to treat me badly is actually spitting upon what Jesus did for me on the cross, by not not demanding respect and value for my life, I'm communicating the fact that I don't think I'm worth it, which is an insult to my faith and my belief in what Jesus did.

I realize now that Jesus might have saved a wretch like me, but he didn't save me because I was a wretch, he saved me because he created me and I have value to him, and I need to KNOW that value and demand that value and respect by the people I interact with on a daily basis, including my husband, my mother and my neighbors.

I was created with LOVE and VALUE and I need to treat myself as such. I will look up scripture references in the morning for you and look for that book as well.

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Grabforjoy

I haven't had a chance to read all the replies Ocean, so sorry if this has been already stated.

Jesus told the disciples, when he sent them off two-by-two, to shake the dust from their feet if they were not received by a town or a household.

Jesus showed righteous anger (and some physical violence) when he went into the temple and upset the money changers tables.

Jesus was not afraid of challenging the pharisees, even calling them names like hypocrite.

And Jesus said it was better for someone to have a millstone around the neck and cast into the see than to hurt the least of these (children).

Jesus would not be categorized as a doormat, or a "nice guy". He challenged the mores of the time. Yes, he preached forgiveness and love. But you have to remember that he was preaching during a time of blood sacrifices, and violent occupation and stoning of women for adultery. I believe he was preaching more with the prayer to change "abusers", and manipulators and schemers, and hypocrites than he was to the victims and those marginalized by society. For the marginalized he offered hope and comfort and peace(just look at the beatitudes).

Just my opinion on the subject and I am no expert on scripture!

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PeachPapoose

I realize now, that by allowing people to treat me badly is actually spitting upon what Jesus did for me on the cross, by not not demanding respect and value for my life, I'm communicating the fact that I don't think I'm worth it, which is an insult to my faith and my belief in what Jesus did.

As Jesus thought highly enough of us to give His life for us, we are definitely worth a lot.

Reminds me of a little pink sweatshirt all of my daughters have worn as toddlers. Emblazoned in big letters on the front of the shirt it says, "I'm OK - God doesn't make junk!"

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Echo

I've come to realize that God doesn't want me to be used by people, that he loves me and wants the best for me. With that comes the realization that even though the Bible states turn the other cheek etc, that it doesn't mean keep letting people do it to you time and time again, as our ex and still h's have done. I think I had to have forgiven 7 times 70 so I think I'm in the clear...lol But seriously, God doesn't want us to suffer. There was a verse I stuck to my computer monitor as I was going through the divorce. I am paraphrasing cause I'm too lazy to look it up, but it said something like, "For I have plans for you to prosper you and not to hurt you." That verse made me realize I wasn't meant to keep suffering in silence but to let God work through me for what he wanted of my life. I don't believe he wanted me to be abused. I believe the sin of abuse that continued to be done to me was not in his will for me. We are to speak out against sin and not allow people in our lives who sin so blatantly, so I think it is pretty clear when you put it all together there that leaving an abuser is what God wants for us, to rid ourselves of that sinful person in our lives who will not repent and do God's will but keeps doing his own.

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nooblette

Jeremiah 29:11

good one Echo!

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Grabforjoy

I am looking at that very verse posted by my computer, right now.

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kc218

I just ordered this book and can't wait to read it. I saw this post and it reminded me of a scripture that I think is relevant:

"Luke 6:42

How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - New International Version (©1984)

I believe in this passage the Bible is saying that until we take the time to deal with our own sins and weaknesses, we're in no position to help someone else get rid of sin in his own life. The reason we're in no position to help is that we can't see clearly. So in my opinion, we're not being unfair or ignoring another's needs according to this scripture, if we put ourselves first in an abusive type of situation.

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Lily Bright

Read the 31st Proverb.

That woman, The Good Wife... who's price is beyond rubies, is strong, healthy, well-dressed, well-heeled, cares for all of her family and servants, makes decisions and buys properties without a micromanaging husband...

she's no mouse.

She takes care of all her people from a position of great strength... and it starts with herself.

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PeachPapoose

I've had difficulty with this, because I was raised to believe that my needs are last, if you are a giving, unselfish person like God intended. That I should "turn the other cheek", that asking or requiring anything from others is self-centered and selfish (and bad).

But I've come to feel that this isn't all-encompassing and that it has more to do with our outlook, rather than every single action we take. First we do have to have our own needs met. If we don't, we wither (physically, emotionally and spiritually) and are incapable of giving to others. Obviously, God did not intend for us to starve to death so others could eat, or give all our money away so others have a house, etc. If we end this 'getting our needs met' at the physical, then we are neglecting the rest of our being...mind and soul. So I don't think that is what God had in mind. I think that this partly applies to living in excess while others go without. Helping others by donating goods, offering our time and energy and skills when at all possible to those who need help is what he intended. Not damaging our own 'self' in order to help others. Boundaries are to protect ourselves, not to demand things from others. Asking for what you require in order to get your needs met is no more selfish than locating food when you are hungry. Forcing or bullying or manipulating in order to get those needs met is what is selfish and bad.

I think he wants us to not hold grudges (to forgive) and to not seek retribution for harm from others (turn the other cheek and let God handle it), and don't let the difficulties of life fill us with anger, hatred and bitterness (love others). What I don't think he wants is for us to put ourselves in harms way. He made us intelligent and gave us many tools to deal with danger (gut instincts, ability to reason, fight or flight response) so if we ignore them and stay in dangerous situations we are literally going against what God intended for us.

That's how I view it anyway.

Carry on :)

I view it the same way. I like how you put it into words, Stormy.

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PeachPapoose

Read the 31st Proverb.

That woman, The Good Wife... who's price is beyond rubies, is strong, healthy, well-dressed, well-heeled, cares for all of her family and servants, makes decisions and buys properties without a micromanaging husband...

she's no mouse.

She takes care of all her people from a position of great strength... and it starts with herself.

I like this, too, 'Lert.

(Just realized this thread is almost a year old. Still relevant, of course.)

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Edelweiss

just a month since the last post, so its not like digging up fossils on the forum or anything :)

I still want to finish this book sometime

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