June 7 Reflections

A book that I have read by Chuck De Groat, “Leaving Egypt” begins with the question, “Are we not slaves?” Sometimes we feel trapped in circumstances and situations that seem beyond our control. But often as he points out “we are slaves to ourselves, trapped in patterns of thinking and feeling that stifle our freedom.” Are we not all slaves?

I want to share with you a slavery/bondage that I had for many years and possibly at times still struggle with today. The bondage of being nice. I believe as a follower of Jesus I am called to be kind; not nice. For years I lived trying to be nice. Nice lacks self-definition. Nice simply does what the other wants, so they will ‘Like” you, or you think you can make someone happy. Nice is fusing with the other. That person’s feelings become my feelings. That person’s likes and dislikes become my likes and dislikes. If they are happy, I am happy. If they are sad, I am sad. Nice is being a non-entity. I have no idea who I am; I simply live another’s life, so tuned in to having them like me, that I never do what I want to do or never be who I truly am. I simply become an appendage to them. It is bondage.

When I was nice in relationships, I would end up despising and hating myself and often the other person. It was often a slow steady grind of despising that would eventually end the relationship or there came a time of self-definition which could either make or break the relationship. Because the truth is, emotionally immature people will fight against my self-definition. They want me to continue to be an undefined blob, morphing into what they want me to be; constantly attached to them, seeing everything as they see it. Nice meant I would not self-define because I was so afraid someone would not like me or think I was wonderful. This is bondage. I was a slave to niceness.

Gradually grace has worked its way into my heart, so that I can live out of kindness, which is not bondage. Kindness is being self-defined. Out of who I am, I offer to you myself for your good and my growth. I do not give myself up, my likes and dislikes. The likes that bring me joy I do not put aside just to make you happy. I live out of my likes and dislikes, my joys and passions and offer myself to the other as I truly am, not as they want me to be. I am not kind to win your favor or get something from you. I am kind out of my self-definition.

When I was being nice, I lacked self-definition. I lacked self-awareness, doing everything to fuse with another to be liked. Trying to make them happy; be their “god” or “savior.” This is bondage… slavery. I do not think Jesus was “nice.” But he was kind out of knowing who he was and why he was here.

We are going to think about slavery and bondage and freedom as we begin a series on the life of Moses “From bondage to freedom.” Some passages to read and reflect upon: Exodus1; Matthew 2:13-15Genesis 15:13-14; John 8:34-36.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn