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My default is defensiveness.
It’s sad and painful but true in certain situations. When I feel like I’m not good enough… When I feel like you think I’m not good enough… When my integrity is called into question… When I’m being treated unfairly…
Defensiveness raises its ugly head.
Recently, I had a flood of defensiveness pour through me because of a string of circumstances in one day. First, I switched into fight mode because of a true offense leveled at me. Later in the day, someone got the worst of me because I was still feeling like I had to defend myself. In both cases, a boundary had been breached with the first being much greater than the second. Still, defensiveness is a root that produces rotten fruit. It keeps me from my goal of being a godly woman who speaks up in godly ways.
Yes, as I said in my last post, speaking up for our boundaries is best because it keeps us from bitterness. But I’m working to do it better. I want to speak up, maintaining healthy boundaries, without making others feel bad. I want to bring healing into these situations instead of hurt.
Is Anybody Else Struggling?
Just from watching my social media feed and listening to conversations swirling around me, I’m positive that I’m not the only one with a problem with defensiveness. Every interaction these days seems to be one side-ways word away from a battle. People speak up and fight. Battle is in the air. Do you feel it too?
Recently, as I was reading Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, I realized that battle takes two main forms in human interactions. He says it this way:
The exact nature of the poison of sin in our social dimension is fairly easy to describe, though extremely hard to deal with. It has two forms… assault or attack and withdrawal or “distancing.”
I recognize those two poisons, both assault and withdrawal, in my own interpersonal reactions. Do you? While “nice Christian women” may save emotional assault for those who live with them in the walls of our homes, we’re pretty prone to withdrawal.
What’s the Solution to Assault or Withdrawal?
In my two difficult situations last month, I had a choice. I could attack or I could withdraw. Both are a type of harm that we inflict on others that leave them (and usually us too!) feeling bad. Neither leave us ready to speak up in healing ways.
But we have a third choice. Instead of defaulting to assault or withdrawal, we can lean in with love.
That’s the first and hardest decision we have to make when a boundary has been breached. Will we choose love over both assault and withdrawal?
In part 2 of “How Do You Speak Up Without Making Others Feel Bad?”, I’ll share some practical steps I’m taking that allow me to choose love over defensiveness. I’ll tell you about how those two situations that brought my blood to a boil turned out.
I’ve been taking notes as I practice, fall down, and get back up again to practice some more. I can’t wait to tell you what I’m learning and how I’m growing. There’s hope for us, sisters!
Thank You for Your Feedback
Thank you, thank you, friends! I asked for your feedback, and I was stunned but honored at how many of you answered my questions. I deeply appreciate each of you who left a comment or sent an email.
The vast majority of you prefer writing, and since I’m a reader like you, I can identify. I’ll keep writing. You gave me fuel for years to come! (Did I say THANK YOU?!)
If you’re a new reader here in this community, you might not know about my book, co-authored with Cheri Gregory, Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well. Our book has lots in it about boundaries and how to implement them so that you can live your one GLORIOUS, God-given life well. Pick up a copy today!