So as you may have noticed, I have been having a conversation with God about becoming a woman of integrity for quite some time. There are some unpleasant side effects of being a woman of integrity. In step study we are on the forgiveness and making amends steps. (These versions of the steps are for abuse victims, so they slightly differ from the ones on the 12 steps page.)
Step 8. We made a list of all persons who had harmed us and became willing to seek God’s help in forgiving them, as well as forgiving ourselves. We realized we have also harmed others and became willing to make amends to them.
Step 9. We extended forgiveness to ourselves and to those who have harmed us, realizing this is an attitude of the heart, not always confrontation. We made direct amends to those we had harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others.
The oddest thing is that working through these steps has helped me start setting boundaries for the first time in my life. I have done passive aggressive boundaries in the past, but never really confronted issues. I just have allowed things to fester and fester until they drive me mad.
I think I may lose relationships over taking this step. When I say “It is no longer okay to treat me this way” or “I am not okay with this” for the first time to someone, I am learning they do not like it. I am feeling a little bit like a bad person, but not really in the “there is no good thing that lives in me” sort of way. Actually if I was going to be rigorously honest, I am mainly feeling bad because I am worried how I will be perceived by anyone who hears gossip or any other sort of stories about my boundaries.
But if it was never okay to treat me in a certain way and I just never said anything, at some point I am going to have to say something. If the whole relationship comes crashing down around me, did the person love me at all or just what they were getting from me? But at some point I have to quit giving things that make me really mad on the inside. God loves a cheerful giver, not one who feels like they were manipulated into it, right? I don’t mind giving sacrificially, but sacrificial giving doesn’t create anger. It creates depending on God for resources, a change of heart and dying to self.
Oh, I am done being dependent on the opinion of someone I say “no” to. No, no, no, no, no! No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Btw, that is accompanied by a rigorous shaking of my head. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! You may not have that!
God has been talking to me about some of these boundaries for like six weeks now. They are all wrapped up in “the things I think God is asking me to do that are unChristian”. Tonight I do not feel so much like they are unChristian as I am angry that it goes back to my biggest character defect that God has shown me. My constant lying. My constant avoiding confrontation. My constant not wanting to hurt people’s feelings. My constant not wanting to hear someone else say I am wrong, so I don’t voice a dissenting opinion. Having to set boundaries and have all these hard conversations now is another way I have to reap what I sowed. Oh, life is a pain sometimes!!!
I had a really good chat with God this afternoon about forgiveness. What is the quote I read from Tim Keller (in Center Church)? Forgiveness is when “we absorb the cost ourselves without remuneration”. I had to look up remuneration. My rewritten quote says something like “we absorb the cost ourselves without compensation or reward”.
In spite of how complicated his phrasing is for me to understand, something about “absorbing the cost” helped me realize what I am supposed to be doing during this step. I have been working on forgiving for years. I am so much less bitter than I used to be. I have started to view the cost in my life differently. Maybe I have started to absorb it. No one could ever repay me for it anyway. What was taken was priceless.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7