Nov 29, 2013

Crossing the Fine Line

I’ve always enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned. But I haven’t always shared in the best of ways.

When I first started learning about healthy eating several years ago, I passionately shared my experiences with my family and friends. I learned the difference between just counting calories, and being aware of harmful ingredients in processed foods. For me, the information was life-changing, and I knew they’d all want to make the same changes in their diets.

But not all of them agreed with my views. 

When I first became a Christian, I passionately shared my experiences with my family and friends…and anyone else who would listen. I read the Bible and excitedly shared what God said about how to live a Holy life. I shared about how God removed worldly things from my life, starting with my rock music, and how that brought me an increased sense of His presence. For me, the revelations were life-changing, and I knew they’d all want to make the same changes to get closer to God.

But not all of them agreed with my views.

In both cases, I plotted and planned different ways to get them to listen if I felt they needed convincing. The stronger someone opposed or disagreed with my oh-so-wise views, the harder I pushed. When they still didn’t agree, I found myself getting angry at them. I couldn’t understand why people started avoiding me, or why my father asked my brother if I had joined a cult. 

Couldn’t they see I was just trying to help them?

No, because I had crossed the fine line: 

Being passionate *about* a cause, value, or ideal is different than being angry *at* those who don’t share your views. 

When we passionately share what we believe with open hands and open hearts, we inspire others to listen. We invite them to take our hand and follow, and leave the choice up to them. They feel respected, accepted, and encouraged to consider our ideas…but also free to disagree without risk of losing our love.

When we get angry because what we believe is not embraced, we alienate others from even considering what we share. We shove our ideas at them with clenched fists, determined to pound our views into them until they give in. They feel judged, rejected and bullied. 

I never like it when others try to force me into believing their views, so why do I do the same thing to them?

This morning, the Lord gave me a fresh revelation: I can only love and respect others (and their opinions) to the degree that I’ve received God’s love for and acceptance of me.

In the past, I desperately needed the acceptance of others to feel valuable and loved. When they disagreed with my opinions, I felt like they rejected me. So I pushed, shoved, and forced my ideas on others in an attempt to gain reassurance of my worth. Truth is, even when they agreed with me and said I was right, it didn’t work – I still felt deep doubts about my value.

Today, because of the Lord’s continued healing, I am at a much deeper place of knowing that God loves me and accepts me as I am. I no longer have the compelling need to get the approval of others. I can share passionately without getting angry. I can allow others the freedom to disagree without feeling a need to pressure them into my views.

It’s been a long process, and an amazing journey. As Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV),

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I still cross that fine line – I’m still learning. Thankfully, the Lord’s new mercies are there waiting for me every time, I just need to ask and receive. And thankfully, I do!

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: What came to mind as you read this post – a view have you been trying to force on someone, or a hurt from the past, or a doubt about God’s love?  Ask the Lord to reveal what He wants you to know, and what He has for you to receive from Him today.


  1. Just listened to Brene Brown's talk on vulnerability which touched on this, just from another direction. In talking about compassion, she said: "And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly." Truth is truth!

    1. Great phrase: "courage to be imperfect". In our culture, it definitely takes courage to be flawed :-). And yes, without accepting we're flawed and yet lovable, we can never love others as they are, flaws and all.
      Thank you, Anne, for your comment!


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