I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was standing in front of the washer in the laundry room.
“This is my life. Nothing is ever going to change.”
It was a daunting thought.
I had just attempted to have yet another conversation with husband #1 regarding my needs and our relationship.
If you’ve never heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people,” then let me introduce you to it today. While it frustrates me when the concept is used for justification, there is some psychological basis behind the concept that people who have been hurt and haven’t healed are actively living in their hurt, and their response to their own hurt is to hurt other people.
After years of therapy, this is one of the conclusions my amazing therapist helped me to arrive at regarding several relationships in my life–one of them being my relationship with husband #1.
Hurt people hurt people.
Typically, there is a cycle involved.
For me, that cycle looked like this:
- I worked myself to the bone.
- I stuffed down all my needs.
- I became exhausted.
- I attempted a conversation about all of the above.
- My needs and feelings were deemed invalid.
- The conversation was shifted to my own weaknesses and shortcomings (which I have)
- No resolution.
- Silent Treatment.
- Completely ignoring conversation and behaving as if it never happened.
I want to make a sarcastic comment here, but I’m going to go with complete and utter honesty instead–if this pattern or these behaviors or this cycle looks familiar to you or you don’t see a problem with it, please keep reading, or better yet, seek help from a professional.
This is not healthy.
This is toxic.
This is destructive.
If your pattern with your family is even more destructive than this and includes more abuse, stop reading right now and go get help.
During this very unhealthy and emotionally destructive time in my life, boundaries were completely foreign to me. I understood having rules and expectations for my daughter, Kate, but my brain couldn’t even process the concept of boundaries within my other family members, my church, my friendships, or my work.
Everything I had been raised to believe was in complete opposition to boundaries.
If you have that same mindset today, let me encourage you to take a few minutes (or like an hour because I’m wordy) to go back and read the rest of this series. I’ve spent a solid month laying the groundwork for these next several posts so that we are all on the same page that boundaries are, in fact, biblical and that we all deserve to live lives of peace, balance, and protection.
Peace or Just Keeping the Peace?
If you would have asked me ten years ago, I would have told you one of my superpowers was keeping the peace. I was a master of keeping everyone else happy while sacrificing myself–
- In my family
- In my work
- In my church
- In my friendships
If you’re like me in those days, you might wear that badge like a badge of honor.
What I’ve learned, though, is that keeping the peace is a dangerous place to live. Too often, we justify keeping the peace by claiming that it’s biblical. After all, peace is a fruit of the spirit, right?
There’s a lot here, so I’m going to do my best to make this as bite-sized as possible without losing context and authorial intent.
Throughout both the Old Testament, but especially the New Testament, scripture does repeatedly tell us that God wants us to embrace peace and attempt to live in peace with one another. We see this in a multitude of verses, but here are just a couple.
Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!Psalm 34:14 MSG
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.Matthew 5:9 MSG
It’s clear that God wants us to choose peace whenever possible, but it’s also clear that there are going to be some people who refuse to choose peace. In Romans 12:17-19, Paul tells us:
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”Romans 12:17-19 MSG
Not everyone is going to choose peace.
Some people will respond violently.
Some people will hurt you.
Some people will mistreat you.
As I’ve heard countless therapists say and as I say more times in a day than I can count, the only thing you can control in this situation is yourself.
While it’s easy to respond in kind when people are awful to us, especially when it’s people we love, our job is to seek peace in the situation.
Not to keep the peace.
That’s an important distinction.
Also, again, if you are in a situation where abuse is happening, stop reading and go make a phone call. Right now.
So, what’s the difference between seeking peace and keeping the peace? The answer is found in Colossians 3:12-14. Paul tells us:
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.Colossians 3:12-14 MSG
We are to dress in compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, and love. We are to be even-tempered, content with second place, and quick to forgive.
Seeking peace means responding with those things: compassion, humility, quiet strength, discipline, and love.
It doesn’t mean not responding.
It doesn’t mean being a doormat.
It doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself and your needs.
It means advocating for yourself out of a place of love.
Boundaries are meant as a means for this peace and for protection.
Friend, if you are living in a place of keeping the peace instead of a place of peace, it’s my prayer that you will seek God, seek counsel, and work toward changing your world today.
- What are your biggest struggles when it comes to keeping the peace vs. peace?
- What relationships did you think about when you were reading today?
- What would happen if you sought peace in those relationships instead of just trying to keep the peace?
This is such a tough topic, so thanks for your thoughtful post! We need to talk about these things.
I totally agree with you that while peace is important, there are times when it’s not healthy to just keep the peace at any cost. It’s important to prioritize our own well-being and set healthy boundaries, even if that means disrupting the peace a little bit.
Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences. One of my biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining peace versus pursuing true peace is finding the balance between pleasing others and respecting my own needs. It can be tough to set boundaries and stand up for myself, especially when I’m afraid of disappointing others or causing conflicts. Finding the right balance between keeping harmony and advocating for myself is an ongoing struggle for me.
This is such a topic for Christians. Although it’s still hard for me to articulate the line for healthy boundaries, I can see the difference thanks to both abusive and healthy relationships in my life. Sometimes it seems like we can’t see how things should be until someone shows us by how well they treat us. Wonderful post.
This is something some Christians don’t realize, they believe that Jesus’ teachings on love means we are everyone’s doormats. Thank you for this insightful post! Blessings this week Kristen … 🙏💕