Love Doesn’t Enable, But Empowers.


I fell for the romanticized, destructive idea in both church culture and pop culture that we must constantly “love and forgive and give away,” a sort of martyr-hero syndrome that guilts us into perpetual generosity.

I spent too many years consumed by the “sacrificial radical love” model of Christianity, which required that I pour out more than I had—but it only scooped out my guts and left me bitter and resentful and exhausted.

To love must include truth, wisdom, and boundaries. Sometimes it means distance. It means knowing when to rest and recharge and to embrace our limits. It always means to have grace for yourself, too.

And to love is not enabling, pampering, coddling, or letting someone off the hook—or it wouldn’t really be love at all. There’s a way to help others that really hurts them because it only feeds into their harmful patterns.

For those who have been abused or traumatized: Forgiveness doesn’t mean friendship. No one should ever be rushed into forgiveness, not for the sake of “getting right with God.” Not for trying to look like the “bigger person” or “because it’s the right thing to do.” We need to recognize patterns of unrepentant abuse and gaslighting and manipulative language that will only guilt-trip back into a vicious cycle. We can never mindlessly open the door again on an abusive relationship. You have the right to say “no.”

God does redeem the evil, yes, but God is for the victims, for the abused, for the survivors, too. God is for the exile, the foreigner, the despised, the despondent who crossed the Red Sea. God is for you.

— J.S.

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Question: So About My Crazy Parents

*Edit: includes a visual statistic about “hovering parents” from OnlineCollege.org — scroll to the bottom or click here.

Anonymous asked:
How do you make your own decisions without disrespecting/dishonoring your parents? I’ve just moved back home and will be in graduate school. My parents keep trying to make all of my decisions. I feel so overwhelmed by what they want. I must have the wrong heart/attitude when I talk to them as well because my dad flipped out and told me I was being annoying. They aren’t always right, but I know I’m not either. Can you please help me?

I might not say exactly what you want to hear, because if your parents are paying the bills for your grad school or even your housing, you haven’t left the nest. They get to call the shots. 

Even if they weren’t supporting you financially, they’re still your parents, and until you get married (or decide on single life with a career, however God calls you), your parents will have a huge part in your decisions.

I had two very inept parents that were violent, manipulative, reward-driven, and overall guessing most of the time.  I was a rebellious jerk, which I thought was “standing up for myself,” but in the end it never helped anything. Despite their shortcomings, I also learned too late they still loved me even if they never knew how to express it.

We all come to realize sooner or later that parents rarely change, which means you have to change. I’m not saying that as a suggestion; it’s an inevitable psychological truth.  You’ll either change for the worse or the better. So it’s up to you on how to determine the flow of your reactions.

Having said that, here’s what you can do. I’m going to list these “backwards,” meaning they increase in importance and priority.

Continue reading “Question: So About My Crazy Parents”

Investing Options

Pastors like to talk about investing in someone who has potential for ministry because they would one day be a valuable commodity for God. We spend hours figuring out how to mentor, apprentice, train, and arm — but all this sort of language makes me a little sick to my stomach.

To treat churchgoers as spare parts is no better than mechanical objectification, as if we are all actors in a play or a porno. People are not products and the church is not a business. They are first and foremost your friends. To view your people as a project destroys all intimacy and robs them of joy — and I see it happen all the time.

Continue reading “Investing Options”