A beloved person in my life heard these words spoken over her:
“Now that you’ve slimmed down, you can wear things like this…”
“I deserve more than the gift you gave me for Christmas…”
“You are hard to love…. No man will ever love you.”
These words came from her mother. That person in one’s life that you think would nurture and build esteem.
Cruelty is easy, cheap, and rampant. And mothers aren’t exempt from it.
Why do we excuse family members and their behavior towards us? Just because they are “family” and “blood” they get to push all over our boundaries and wound us? Creating boundaries with family members is one of those painful adulting things we all need to do. Don’t let love confuse you when it comes to this. To continue to let your family members say such hurtful things to you—and excuse it as okay—is not you expressing your love for them. This is a back-and-forth dysfunctional love that is far from what love really is. This is coping love. This is contorted love.
You are worthy to be loved as the whole person God created you to be. Not this contorted version someone wants from you.
This is what my girl proclaimed in response on Facebook:
I am recovering from these words that were actually said to me… some of them from this very morning. In this moment I will share my truth, which is… that even when things are going well for me, I continue struggling to believe in my worthiness sometimes. Most days, I’m good. This is the truth. But those few days do come, when I struggle with becoming the bully to fight against being bullied. I struggle to do what’s right, and sometimes fail to do the right things. Let us pray for our mother-daughter relationships as we fight against forces seen and unseen.
Cruelty is easy, cheap, and rampant. We can become the bully back or we can become braver. To become braver does not mean you get to be walked on. Or stuff down the pain. You can put these people inside the proper boundaries of your life and surround yourself with those people who will get into your arena with you. You get to be selective and this is okay.
Here is the person you want to have in your brave life.
“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
If you’re not out in your life vulnerably exposed as you live bravely then I’m not interested in your feedback. The people I choose to speak into my life are the ones who are not afraid of vulnerability. Who wrestle with God. Who realize that pain is just the beginning. Those who allow the cracks in their lives to let God’s light in. I’m still blessed by my two rocks who allow me to live bravely with safety. Surround yourself with these kind of people. These are the kind of people who get to speak into your life. As for the rest, they have a safe place within boundaries.
Did you also notice the holy tension found in that quote? When we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. This is the numbing and stuffing down I referenced earlier. Doing this harms you. It harms your ability to connect and that is not brave living. How many friends, or family members, do you have that say “those words” don’t affect them. But you know the words do hurt. This sounds ironic to say but It is good to feel the pain of those words, even as untrue as they may be. The pain will push you to a new beginning…like making boundaries.
More holy tension from that quote, when we’re defined by what people think we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Hence our fake Facebook and Instagram selves. Again another example of a life without boundaries.
Both of these sentences are reactions we have to cruelty but if we can stay in the holy tension between them, push through the pain we usually shut down, we can learn a big fat truth. Those people’s words don’t define you. Because they are those people. They are not the ones you respect who are living brave as whole people with boundaries willing to get their hearts broken and still be brave. It is these people who you want in your life.
It is these people who inspire you.
You can be one of those inspirational people too. You do not need to be afraid of your vulnerability. You can wrestle with God and learn so much. You can realize pain is just your beginning. You can allow God’s light to shine through your imperfect cracks and be beautiful. You can choose who you get feedback from.
You can live bravely.