By David Prosen, LMHC
As Christians, we are to love our neighbors, our family members and yes, even our enemies. There are hundreds and hundreds of scripture references for this. This includes giving to others without expecting repayment and repeatedly forgiving those who hurt us. We see this in the living example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He loved all, including those viewed as unlovable (sinners). He gave himself and his life, completely for the salvation all. He forgave all, including those who didn’t even ask for it. An example of this was when he hung on the cross and He even cried out to His Heavenly father from the cross to forgive those driving the nails in his hands and feet.
God does command us to love but He doesn’t expect us to be door mats. Living out authentic love does not mean to putting ourselves in positions to be taken advantage of, used or abused. Allison our Director at St. Raphael often reminds us that, “The cross is not the goal”. I love this because this is very true. Hebrews 12:2 states clearly “For the sake of the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising its shame and has taken his seat at the right of the throne”. The joy was the goal of Christ… and it should be with us as well.
In, “Movie Therapy for the ‘Too-Nice‘ Christian”, we examine in detail the differences between acts that are done out of authentic love and those that appear to be done out of love, but may have other motivations that are often unhealthy and hurtful to ourselves and/or others.
It might seem like Jesus was a door mat at times when he didn’t defend himself -the slime balls of spit that hit him in the face, the crown of thorns that pressed deeply into his scalp, the countless flesh wounds from the scourging at the pillar, the humiliation of being stripped in front of his mother, friends, strangers and enemies. He didn’t defend himself to Pilate or anyone else. But Jesus was not a door mat. All of Christ’s actions and choices were done out of selflessness and genuine authentic love.
Without understanding authentic love and without self-awareness of our own inner wounds and motivations we can easily fall into the “Doormat trap”. Then instead of experiencing the freedom and joy that comes from truly loving, we can wind up locked in a world of bitterness and pain wondering why people seem to just walk all over us. In “Movie Therapy for the ‘Too-Nice‘ Christian”, I created tools to help you determine not only whether your own actions are done out of love and charity but also strategies to recognize when the actions of those closest to you are authentically loving as well. This combined approach helps blow the lid off the “doormat trap” by giving you strategies for more satisfying and loving relationships.
Creating healthy boundaries is a crucial skill to create happy relationships and joyful lives. Boundaries are rules, emotional and/or physical space set in place to help protect you. This is not the same as the walls that some people build to protect them from pain. Building walls keep one from living life which involves taking some risks in relationships. Walls can lead to isolation. Healthy boundaries don’t keep others out of your life, but like a guard rail on a windy road, keep relationships on the right path and encourage living life fully with positive connections to others.
One example of a boundary is the word “no”. It is perfectly okay to say no and yet the ‘Too-Nice‘ Christian often has tremendous difficulty doing this. It might be out of fear of being judged or the desire to be liked, approved of or accepted. But the person who always says yes will eventually, feel exhausted, overwhelmed and very resentful.
We have a right and a duty to take care of ourselves and this includes knowing our limits and saying no when we really want to. But one of the dysfunctional family rules is that taking care of oneself is selfish. This belief perpetuates the problem and keeps the family members in pain. We address this issue in Movie Therapy for the “Too Nice” Christian and help you to map out strategies for appropriate self care that go beyond eating well and sleeping right. We address the valid emotional needs that we all have. If these are not met, we can’t give authentic love ourselves and often fall for manipulative treatment from others and call it love. Throw on top of that our desire to be good Christians, and you can see how a perfect storm is set up to snag us in the “doormat trap”.
God created you for better things. You are made in His image and you are precious in His sight.. If you struggle in this area and find yourself in the “doormat trap” check out our fun and unique group, “Movie Therapy for the ‘Too-Nice‘ Christian”. This low-cost eight week program uses movies of the past and of today to look at unhealthy patterns that make our lives miserable. Using sound psychological principles teamed up with the treasures of our Roman Catholic Faith, you will gain insight and receive tools to make positive lasting changes in your life. Are you ready to make your life more meaningful and joyful? Click on the link and let’s get started!
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