As a Life Purpose Coach I believe that we are all called, have gifts and talents, and are incredibly loved by our Creator. Everything that we encounter in life prepares us for the next season in our calling.
I also believe that everyone of our gifts are as important as the next persons. We are all working towards the same goals and each and every one of us are highly loved and valued by Jesus!
What I’ve discovered over the years is that many women have an incredibly difficult time discerning what that calling is. The trials of life and the many mixed or misunderstood messages they have heard from various teachers have left them feeling like they never measure up to what God has for them to do. For these struggling women, certain myths about calling are getting in the way of discovering what God truly has for them.
If you’re feeling lost trying to discern God’s calling for your life, consider these myths that may be tripping you up.
Myth #1: It’s About You
The process of discovering your calling may necessitate some serious self-reflection, but make no mistake: It’s not really about you. Calling is not about self-fulfillment. It is a discovery of your preciousness, your beauty, and your gifting…..a plan set up for you from before you were born to fulfill….and the revealing of it is directly related to what you have experienced in your life through every trial and every experience, both positive and negative, to prepare and train you to be able to see others come to know who He is through your life.
Calling is a revealing and fulfillment of God’s will for your life.
Many people experience a special sense of satisfaction that comes from exercising their God-given gifts, talents, and passions, but that sense of fulfillment is a byproduct of being in God’s will, not the goal.
To discern what God’s will may be, you do need to look inward. You must seek to “know yourself” in order to discover God’s unique creation in you. Sometimes we can’t see outside of ourselves and being in community with other’s who know you can help to get a better picture. This is why we need each other.
And sometimes we miss the obvious– thinking it couldn’t possibly be important enough to be a calling. I have had women come to me in their season of child rearing, crying because they just don’t feel important to God because He has not revealed to them a calling. And there beside them stood their children.
Do you know raising children is one of the highest callings there is? To raise a child to love and honor God with their own lives is the calling of a Mother. Yes, one day those babies will be on their own and you will be free to pursue other gifts and callings, as each season of your life reveals more and prepares us for the next season.
Myth #2: If It’s Uncomfortable, It Can’t Be Your Calling
Nope, not even close. Figuring out your calling isn’t an instant ticket to a smooth life and career. As a matter of fact sometimes we get so stuck in our comfort zones of dysfunction, we would choose to stay there, because at least it is familiar, right?
Knowing what you are meant to be doing is really just the beginning of what may be a long and arduous journey of hardship and defeat. Some of the most successful, inspired people throughout history have pursuit of their paths that has included feeling like a failure….but rest assured,
Not one of your failures is wasted…it is all a part of the plan, and what makes the difference is that you
DON’T GIVE UP!!
For most of my life I struggled with what I was doing, even when I was very busy doing “the work of the Lord”, the way I saw it…,
God is never finished with us and even while I was so busy, make no mistake, He continued to reveal to me those places I kept hidden that needed to be healed. I fell flat on my face many times.
I faced plenty of hardships and failures at work and in my personal life. These challenges helped me grow and learn more about God and more about how God created me to serve him, eventually leading me into Life Coaching much to my surprise. Now that I am a Life Coach and have been for many years, I continue to enter into places of so much pain I sometimes question where He is taking me now.
Your calling is most of the time a stretch assignment. Moses is a great biblical example:
He had no doubt about what God wanted him to do. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, giving him clear marching orders about his next steps.
Isn’t this what we all kind of wish for when we’re searching for our calling?
But Moses’ calling didn’t sound all that great to him:
“But who am I that I should go?”
Moses questioned God, voicing the fear,
“I’m not important enough.”
But God answered, “I will be with you.” Then, Moses continued pressing back, asking, “What if they do not believe me?”
“I’m not impressive enough!”
In response, God provided him with miraculous signs. But it still wasn’t enough for Moses, who came back with the worry, “But I am slow of speech and tongue.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
God assured Moses that he would speak through him.
Moses was called to a task God designed for him, but it clearly didn’t feel good. He tried every way he could think of to convince God that he was the wrong man for the job, and then finally, when that didn’t work, he came right out and asked God to “please send someone else.”
Your discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on the wrong path.
Myth #3: Choosing Wrong Can Thwart God’s Will
I know women (and men too) who seem to agonize endlessly over every major choice in their lives, calling included, because they’re afraid of choosing wrongly. It’s good to want to make the best choice you can, but at some point you just need to make a choice and go from there. If you find yourself worrying excessively about your calling, ask yourself whether this is really about discerning God’s will or whether you may be trying to control God’s will.
Your choices are important, but, when you are seeking Him with your whole heart, no choice you can make is outside of God’s sovereignty. Seriously…it is NOT that easy to miss God. Do you think He is not able to transcend your humanness, and lead you right into His perfect will…even when you think you are the one making the decisions?
If you had asked me 20 or 30 years ago where I would end up, I never would have foreseen the course my life would take. I now look back and am just amazed by God’s providence over all of it.
Myth #4: Your Calling Is Settled
Discovering your calling isn’t something you do once, or even twice. It’s not something you get to check off of a list and move on from.
The life of a Christian entails a constant process of discovering your calling. Just because God has called you to a particular purpose at a particular time doesn’t mean his plans for you are the same in every season….each season of our lives has a new calling that builds on the last one….nothing stays the same forever.
Looking back at my own life, I can see God shaping and shifting my calling over the years.
Each chapter of my life God continued to call and lead me through one season to the next. Some of the things that happened to me to bring me to this place today is astounding, painful, challenging, and sometimes unbelievable. In every phase my calling has looked and felt different, but God has been a consistent foundation throughout. And even when I was in total denial about my own issues that needed work, His will was accomplished in other’s lives through my calling. Astounding to me.
Who knows what the next chapter of life will bring?
Everyone’s calling is going to look different—and each season will bring a new process of discernment. Just remember, God is in control. He loves you and me, and his will for us will always bring us closer to him.
May you begin your discernment journey with courage and humility.
Of course you know that I am a Life Purpose Coach. So, I would be remiss to not invite you to contact me if you need help in this season of your life to discern where God is taking you. You may feel stuck in this chapter and need a mentor to challenge you and help you to move forward. Just call or email me from my web page and we will chat!!
“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31
We see the Lord’s displeasure being expressed against those who operate an effort to control the people. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.
“From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (NAS). Jeremiah 6:13-14
A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.
And this has been my story. Part of it anyway. You will find my whole story in detail in my first book, ”Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing”
When I needed to go to work to help support my family I was told by the authorities of the church I attended that I needed to forfeit working and stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to ever do ministry again. For years I thought my gifts would not be used again and that I was disobedient because I didn’t obey them. (Until I was shocked when I began to see my same gifts used out there in the market place..aha moment.)
A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and they had the fullness of God and His gifts, where other churches did not, and that if we ever had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.
A pastor who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to give more and more money. He actually took the offering in decorated trash cans…(not lying). The wealthy had the high positions in the church. There was the pastor who had the men of the church build his home for free labor, stating, that as Solomon had to have the temple built before he could help the people, he, too, needed to have his temple before he was free to really be a pastor.
A leader who cornered me in a room alone, threatened me, and yelled because he said I was too “perfect” to minister to women. He said I needed to dress down and quit painting my nails if I wanted women to identify with me. He also said I needed to project being poor. I was devastated.
Openly ostracized and lied about to a congregation of people to manipulate me to quit my women’s ministry outside his organization that was reaching hundreds of women. ( I didn’t quit. I left his church organization that very night.)
Innocently called into a pastor’s office alone and watching him lose his temper at me, yelling with spittle flying, finger pointed in my face, falsely accusing me of talking about him behind his back because I told a sound man I was removed from the worship team and had no idea why. I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t gain control while he stared me down with contempt until I finally got up and left.
These are all true stories, and I could go on and on but,
…now, many years later I coach so many who relate their own stories of pain and abuse at the mercy of “godly men and women”. My heart aches for them because I know this is not Jesus. This is man or woman who wants to control and the power goes to their heads.
But, this was just the beginning of my story. Upon leaving these controlling ministries after 25 years of having a church building as home and family, I went through a 5 year sabbatical where I had an encounter with Jesus such as I never had, after being in church and busy with ministry all those years.
It took me many years to be set free from the damage that was done to my spirit and to be able to enter a church building without anxiety and tears.
So don’t lose hope in the pain of loss when you know you have to make a change. Jesus promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you. Even when you are brave enough to leave and everyone is saying to just overlook the sin.
When all the control and crutches are gone guess Who is left standing?
And oh what a Man He is…never to leave us or forsake us. He will reveal Himself to you in all truth and lead you to safe places to experience the true love of God in motion, and connect with believers who really care and walk in His love in confidence.
Things to look out for in your place of church community if you suspect spiritual abuse:
Do they say you have to blindly respect and obey them, without having earned it, just because they said so and they are your leader?
Do they demand your allegiance to them as ‘proof’ that you are a follower of Jesus?
Do they use exclusive language: “We are the only church in town really following Jesus.” “Our theology is the only sound doctrine.” Everyone else is missing the “deeper” walk.
Do they shame people, without grace, if they fail to live up to the church’s expectations?
Do they quote scriptures about “not touching God’s anointed” when referring to themselves? Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing their critics.
Do they cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual insights? Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it. And if you have an insight from God they have to approve it before you can share.
Do they demand blind service from their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives.They live aloof from their followers and justify their material extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges. They typically chase after wealth–at any cost, and often at the expense of the very people they shepherd.
Do they hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. And place burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle, but they often demonstrate licentiousness, greed, and uncontrolled addictions behind closed doors.
Use exclusivity for your blind allegiance to them. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like lucky insiders. And, of course, this meant they are more spiritual than the rest of the congregation. Did you ever feel like you are exempt from the “click” of popular people in the community of believers? Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.
We are all one body in His church.
You are the church!
We need safe places to gather together and grow together and share Him together. Don’t settle for less, and be brave enough to change if the Holy Spirit is showing you that something is just not right. In fact, run!!
The longer I stayed out of my ‘loyalty’, the move abused I was in the end. You cannot fix it!! Run!
There is healing and restoration from this horrible sin for both the ones who have abused and the victims of their abuse. Remember we are all an important part of His body. We ALL have gifts, callings and talents He wants to use. We were never meant to sit in a pew looking at the backs of heads while listening to one man teach, without using our own gifts too!! No one is more important than the other.
Be set free today!!
Call me if you need help with this issue and you find yourself sunk deep into spiritual abuse and feel like you can’t get out. Go to the home page from this blog and send me a message. Or please comment below.
God longs for you to know that He is more than enough in your troubled times. He desires you to rest and fully embrace that where you are is exactly where God plans for you to be.
Even in situations like you have never faced before.
It has taken me so long to be able to write again. I was frozen in time it seemed–for the last 3 months of 2015. But the last 2 weeks I could feel it rising up within me again and now I think I can verbalize somewhat of what I have learned in the very hard and trying year of 2015.
I have learned that when I feel like my faith has been shaken to the core that I become~
~stunned and “shell shocked”…
That it’s a tumultuous venture, this walking by faith. At one time or another, you encounter the completely unexpected followed by the unthinkable.
And when it happens, the impact of it brings you to your knees, able to utter only one desperate word – “Why?”
It’s an intense battle when you’re that overwhelmed. First there’s shock and anger, then comes denial,
“This can’t be what my loving Jesus has planned for me – not me, not His beloved child.”
You wonder why God doesn’t see that you need a different outcome. Perhaps if you just go slow and lay out the alternatives for Him – each and every one of them – you’ll help Him figure out how to reverse what’s been put in motion…
He whispers my name~~and I feel His presence~~and it is more than enough.
When I finally realized that our steady income from investigations was gone for good due to California laws, and if we were to survive in life it would be a miracle…..
He whispered my name…
…and said that I was to take no thought for tomorrow for He would sustain us as a mother sustains her babies life by giving it sustenance from her own body. He would be our life giving force. From that day forward we watch daily as He brings in the finances we need from various sources. He never fails and I have found I can just rest in it and not have to be hyper-vigilant and afraid that maybe today it won’t happen.
Philippians4:13Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
When my precious daughter had a ruptured appendix and I stood over her bed, helpless, watching her in agony as a result of poor medical care, and fear wanted to grip my heart and squeeze the life out of it;
He whispered my name…
..as I stood there over her bed I felt His hand on my shoulder and his voice in my ear saying, “Dixie, I have this, she will be okay.”
I John3:22We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him.
When the horror and shock and fear came when my ‘adopted’ son was in a freak accident, while intoxicated, that took someone’s life ….the father of my grand kids…and I had to tell my babies that their daddy was going to prison.
As I sit in the court room weeks on end gripped by anxiety, unable to breathe– and watched the judge, moved with compassion for a lone veteran gripped with PTSD, miraculously lessen his sentence… I felt Jesus in the fire with me and with him…and I knew God had a plan.
He whispered my name….
His plan has unfolded, in the midst of the pain, in opening huge doors of prison ministry for my adopted son and has brought healing to him in areas that was never able to be reached…but in the midst of the deep valley He has found a very real Jesus.
I Corinthians 9:8God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.
When my father, (who molested me for years) on his death bed, told me he could not forgive ME for exposing “our” secret to my mother and that I ruined HIS life…and Mom’s life, before she died. Realizing there would be no closure with my abuser before he left this earth– when my picture was always of his saying how sorry he was for his crime against me and my little girl. There I was, sitting in his hospital room, with, strangely, no one around, next to his bed, while he told me he could not forgive ME…
Jesus whispered my name~~ I felt Him in the chair beside me and felt His breath tickle my ear as He whispered, “Dixie, I’m right here and I am not going anywhere. Just lean into me.” I knew I could endure the pain and shock of it all. It was the last conversation I had with Dad. Jesus’ presence got me through the funeral of confusion and distress at being so removed from all feeling, just numbness, as my husband performed the ceremony.
Matthew 21:22,23But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.
When I read my parents trust sent to me after my dad’s death, and realized that in 2006, my mother and my father stated that they, in full disclosure, and with full knowledge did NOT want their daughter, Dixie, to have one thing that belonged to them; I felt the ultimate abandonment and full force of their anger towards me for stopping my father from molesting again after he molested my daughter. I was the black sheep of their family and was pretty much hit with it on their deaths. I had to admit to myself, finally, that I didn’t want their “things” but what I had wanted was their love, and would never find it here on earth.
He whispered my name~~ “Dixie, you have a new name that I have given you. I will be both mother and father to you. I take the sting away of their earthly rejection. This is the end of years of torment for you and though you didn’t hear what you needed to hear from them, you will hear it from me and I am more than enough for you.”
Ephesians 3:20,21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
And you know what, HE IS more than enough. Better. No comparison.
God wants you to know that He is so much bigger than all the desperate and tragic situations in this life. He wants you to know He is always with you and for you.
His blessing isn’t found in what He gives or takes away. You find it as you abide in Him.
Ask Him to align your heart with His. Believe His Word. Trust Him.
In my journal to Him, He speaks to me too…in one recent one Jesus said to me,
“Don’t count on what you feel but continue to allow me to fill you where you are lacking and believe Me when I say, I know what you lack, and I am more than enough for you…..I am doing a work you cannot see!”
When I posted this picture on face book a few days ago it so resonated with my soul–my life has been so like this illustration and I know yours has too….the more I thought about it however, the more I kept asking myself if I, indeed, can consider my life pure joy. Or have I been caught up in looking at the depth of pain and the depth of trials and sometimes pure craziness in my life, and thought, “Why the heck me, Lord.” Have I not sown into your Kingdom? When is my time coming?
Yes, I am really being transparent here.
“Haven’t I served you all my life? Why so much suffering. Starting from my childhood of abuse and ending up here, years later….still struggling for a reprieve.”
Woe is me.
Don’t we just get so wrapped up in ourselves sometimes?
I like what Michelle Perry says: “Storms are invitations to dance with Jesus. When you get high enough above the squall, even the most turbulent storm has beauty. And every storm has lessons.” Michelle Perry!
The scripture is actually in James 1:2-4:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The answer is yes, I have, at times, been caught up in feeling sorry for myself at times and even justifying my right to do so.
We have these preconceived notions in our heads as to how our lives will be, and when it doesn’t fit our pictures we feel frustrated and defeated. Have we ever considered that the Lord has a different plan for us than what we thought?
Maybe the very trials we are in now are what is training us for the journey right into His plan for us in the next season……
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.” Galatians 6:9
Jesus tells us over and over in this life we will face many adversities and trials and temptations.
We cannot get through this life without Jesus, friends. I don’t know how people who have no trust in Him do it. Do they just give way to fear?
Yes, I think so.
Without our faith in Jesus to guide, protect, and rescue us…without Him to rush to in times of pain and grief….without knowing His extreme love for us, who do we turn to?
And what about this scenario? When it looks like everyone around you is being blessed and seeing the fulfillment of God’s blessings in their lives and yet, you are still struggling and nothing is happening. What do you do with that. Well, in Psalm 37: 1-11 it says:
Do not trouble yourself because of sinful men. Do not want to be like those who do wrong.2 For they will soon dry up like the grass. Like the green plant they will soon die.3 Trust in the Lord, and do good. So you will live in the land and will be fed.4 Be happy in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart.5 Give your way over to the Lord. Trust in Him also. And He will do it.6 He will make your being right and good show as the light, and your wise actions as the noon day.
So, we hold on and bear up under the pressures of life and make a choice to put on perseverance…which is a fruit of the Spirit that He freely gives us when we ask for it.
We WILL reap what we have sown if we don’t give up!
And look at this as Psalm 37 continues:
Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him. Do not trouble yourself when all goes well with the one who carries out his sinful plans.8 Stop being angry. Turn away from fighting. Do not trouble yourself. It leads only to wrong-doing.9 For those who do wrong will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord will be given the earth.10 A little while, and the sinful man will be no more. You will look for his place, and he will not be there.11 But those who have no pride will be given the earth. And they will be happy and have much more than they need.”
Do we believe this? This is why we have to be diligent in His word and in talking to Him.
It boils down to a choice. Not a feeling!
I choose to believe that in due season I will reap if I faint not…
I can feel it in my very bones. How about you?
Are you ready to give up?
Hebrews 12:2 in the Message says it this way: “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Georgia had finally reached the end of her rope when she came in for coaching. She was on her 3rd husband and could not understand why he was so much like the former 2 husbands who were rageful, controlling and vengeful. She longed for a peaceful marriage but her feeble attempts to ‘fix’ these men had made her feel like such a failure and her husband helped her along with that by saying that yes, she was a loser in everything she did.
But what Georgia didn’t understand was that she kept seeking her own healing from years of abuse by a rageful father through men that were just like him. She would just jump into the first relationship that made her feel comfortable– without seeking healing from Jesus so she could walk away from her past and make wiser choices in who she connected with.
The problem was the men that made her feel comfortable only made her feel that way because they reminded her of her father. She had this need to repeat the life she had with him– to try to make it come out right in order to fill the gaping hole her father left in her in her growing up years.
And the pattern was bound to be repeated in failed marriages over and over again until Georgia finally found her way to allow the Holy Spirit into those wounded places.
Unhealed relational wounds drive us to compulsive attempts to repair the damage. Without being aware of it, we seek out people we believe can “fix” what’s wrong with us or help us find a piece of ourselves we feel is missing.
We function emotionally like the man dying of thirst who sees a mirage and hurries to it only to find it is dry sand. His perceptions are driven by his need.
We are rarely aware that something in us wants completeness. The truth is we long for Jesus continually because He is the one who has really set eternity in our hearts. Within us, our spirits, we know the answer lies in Him. But our soulish realm, the mind , will and emotions has to be renewed and healed so we can change ourselves from the inside out.
But if we remain unaware of the powerful forces at work within us conditioned by our past emotional injuries, such as our family dynamics and how we responded to it, we can be blind to its influence and seek out the completeness we lack by making all the wrong choices. For example, consider the following scenarios:
The codependent person lacks assertiveness and the ability to confront, so she attracts controlling and aggressive people. (Georgia’s case)
The rageful person can’t bear to feel emotions that make her sad, so she finds empathic people who won’t confront her moods.
The rigid, black-and-white person with walls a mile thick is not able to let go of control, so he seeks out spontaneous, creative people who won’t try to control him.
The over-responsible, guilt-ridden person lacks self-care and feels like a loser, so she finds self-absorbed people who care for no one but themselves.
These kinds of responses do not reflect God’s intentions for us in any way. And they don’t lead to healthy or fulfilling connections.
But we are not complete without relationship with Him and knowing Him as our healer from the past.
We have missing pieces— holes in us that we carry from childhood into adulthood.
The path to completeness or wholeness is to find a relational context and healthy relationships within community in the body of Christ…..finding those who you can trust and be vulnerable with and who can help you finish the emotional work that enables you to grow into the capacities you lack and become who you were always meant to be.
The first step is admitting to the pattern and seeking help.
“You complete me” is a great line from a movie, but it doesn’t work in real relationships. Another human being is simply not capable of making you feel complete. Your sense of worth has to come from God and His complete work in your life. Our pasts to not have to dictate our futures.
That is why most of us need to put less energy into romance and more into personal growth. It pays off later in romance. I recently saw this posting on Face book that got a resounding “YES” from me.
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek HIM to find her!”
Complete people attract other complete people.
We all need relationships that are supportive and caring in order to thrive. And while there can be excitement and drama with a person who follows your old patterns of dysfunction, it will ultimately be exhausting, if not debilitating. Setting boundaries and expressing your needs clearly will not only detract unhealthy people from seeking you out, and make them less attractive to you, but it will also attract people who are healthy enough to be there for you as well.
And that is where the real passion, excitement and God’s love will emerge.
Don’t let unhealed relational wounds or the pain of a past relationship affect your future.
My belief has always been, when the dark and hidden areas of our minds are exposed to light and truth, the darkness has to go. Light and darkness simply cannot dwell in the same place.
So, as a Life Coach, I endeavor to ask the right questions that will uncover areas in ourselves that will ultimately answer our questions and set us free from bondage. Or to help us see the truth within relationships that perplex us, that also sets us free from the actions of others.
Sometimes our communication and conflict management patterns can be out of whack.
This can be for a variety of reasons based on our background and learned behavior. Those patterns can change with some insights, skills and relationship help.
And if you want it to change.
You have to want it to change.
It is always about a choice, isn’t it?
So, if this post helps you see your own passive-aggressive behaviors, you will understand why others find it difficult to be around you, trust you, and respect you as you would like to be trusted and respected.
You confuse them. People move away from folks who purposefully confuse them — if they are smart. It can be such a drain.
Or if it answers your questions or rings a bell in some of your relationship conflicts with the other people in your life who have these traits this will help you realize you are not really crazy–and it is not you!
Just becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that our behavior patterns change overnight. The minute we become believers of Jesus Christ, our hearts are born anew. We get brand new hearts, alive unto God. And we are saved by His grace, not by our own goodness, but by His.
But our souls, (mind, will, and emotions) have to be renewed on a daily basis by a continued pursued relationship with Jesus. His spirit helps us to change and it is never ending growth. We have to learn how to recognize old coping skills from the past and allow the Lord to show us how to move past them and find our security, comfort, and value from Him alone.
So, I am offering you a list of what you can look for in a passive aggressive person, or to even recognize some of the traits in yourself. If so, I hope you find it home-hitting and immediately revealing and you start the journey to correct it.
If these traits describe you as you usually are, I invite you to sit up and take notice. You likely do not even realize you are doing these things. Once you read them and ponder your own behavior, you may finally understand why you are having difficulties having the relationships you most want, at home and at work or in the church.
More good news, the more willing to work on yourself you are, the greater your chances of having the life with others that you crave. When you realize how you are pushing them away by your crazy-making behaviors, you can change things within yourself. When you are trustworthy within yourself, you will be perceived as trustworthy by others.
Although men and women express their passive-aggressive behaviors somewhat differently, generally, you are behaving in passive-aggressive ways if you are regularly:
1. Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone.
How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive”. You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive). Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you. People become confused and mistrusting of you.
2. Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath and your actions are just off enough to the point that those close to you sense it. It makes those around you annoyed and confused.
People who do not get along with others are interested only in themselves; they will disagree with what everyone else knows is right. A fool does not care whether he understands a thing or not; all he wants to do is show how smart he is. Pro. 18:1&2 NLT
3. You fear direct communication because you fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support.
All the while, you are afraid of being alone and so you want to control those around you so they won’t leave you. Very confusing!
4. Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently. Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim. You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.
5. Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others. One way of controlling others is to make them wait. Ouch!! I know that speaks to so many of us. You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done. You even blame others for why that is so. It’s amazingly unreasonable, but you do it even though it destroys relationship, damages careers, loses friendships and jobs.
And, you tell others how justified you are in being angry because, once again, others treated you unfairly.
6. Unwilling to give a straight answer. Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions.
Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant. Silly them!
7. The silent treatment. Passive aggressive behavior is recognizable by the disconnect between what is being said and what is being done. Nothing highlights this more than the famous silent treatment. Silence generally signifies agreement but not in this case. When you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment, you realize that the other person is far from agreeable. They have a big problem with you and just to allow themselves the victory, they have no intention of telling you what that is.
There are 2 other common versions of the silent treatment. One is to answer the question ‘What’s wrong?’ with ‘nothing’, when there certainly is something wrong. The other is to answer any question with just one word. This is intended to signal that there is a problem, without you having to say it.
Both expressions say “You poor confused person. You’re not worth talking to.” But the real reason for their behavior is that they have not, cannot, or will not take responsibility for their own behavior.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2ESV
8. Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity.
Whether you set yourself up to be a self-sabotaging failure — “Why do you have such unrealistic expectations of me?” or a tyrant or goddess incapable of anything less than perfection, “To whom do you think you are speaking?” You are shaking in your boots from fear of competition and being found out as less than perfect.
9. Often late and/or forgetful. One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating.
And, then, to put the cherry on top, you suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect you to arrive on time, or, in your words, “think of everything”. Being chronically late is disrespectful of others. Supposedly forgetting to do what you have agreed to do is simply demonstrating your lack of trustworthiness. Who wants to be around that for long?
Pro. 16:7 When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.
10. Making up stories, excuses and lies. You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer. You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships. It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power. You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.
11. Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, dependent or simply human.
12. Complaints of injustice and lack of appreciation
13. Dragging your feet to frustrate others. Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do. But, you always have an excuse why you cannot continue or complete the task. You won’t even say when it will be — or even might be — done. Do you know anyone like this?
Everything is viewed as an attack on you. When something doesn’t go your way, it is seen as unfair or an injustice. It’s all about how the world impacts you.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1-20ESV
14. Disguising criticism with compliments
At first, passive aggressive people may seem pleasant and warm. They often appear to be complimentary. It is only after they have left that you realize that the compliment was actually disguising a cheap jibe.
15. Always getting in the last punch.
Passive aggressive people love to throw the last punch. So much so, that even when an argument has been reconciled, they slip one last insulting remark into the conversation. This remark is often more subtle than the ones which went before but it is still an insulting remark which allows them to feel victorious.
We belong to God. It is time for us to step into maturity and begin to face truth about the strong holds in our lives that hold us back from producing His fruit in us.
The answer always lies in Jesus. Our renewed minds will flow out from Him if we are willing to admit the truth of our actions to ourselves and then to Him. It is not in our own power but in His. In our weaknesses He is made strong, but we have to be willing to get out of denial and face our truth. He will help us with the rest!
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
She sat in my office crying her heart out seeking an answer for depression. A young mother of 3 children who just could not seem to get it together or define why she was so unhappy and miserable. She said she loved being a mom and her marriage was just fine. I was stumped and began to just call on the Lord to help me, help her!
Finally, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Ask her about her mother.” Up until that point her mother had not been mentioned. So I said, “Tell me about your Mom.”
She looked at me in shock and literally crumbled into a sob that went on for quite a while. She finally was able to tell me that her mom controlled her entire life. She had no freedom to make her own choices with her own children. Every day her mom showed up at her house to come in and make sure she was handling her life according to what her mom wanted. She disclosed she was not free to go out with her husband unless her mom approved and was the babysitter and knew what she was doing every minute. It was causing problems in her marriage and her husband hated her mom for it.
I could see the guilt and shame come in as she talked, and the little girl qualities emerge. This girl had spent her entire life letting her mom rule everything she did. Her mom never let her grow up and she allowed it. She hated her weakness for not being able to tell her mom no, or being able to just grow up and take care of her own children or make her own decisions.
She was stuck.
I wish I could say I was able to help her. Once I began to share with her about boundaries and how the power was hers to learn to say no, she began to back track and make excuses. Her fear of her mom was palpable and it wasn’t long before I got a call that she just couldn’t afford any more sessions. I knew she just could not handle making this shift of saying no to her mother.
How sad we give others so much power over us!
Being set free is being willing to learn to let go of controllers in our lives.
Even when it is family.
There are plenty of people out there who live their lives through controlling others.
Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit. When we have self-control, and you get it from being with Jesus and asking for His self control to fill you, by faith, we maintain the ability to stand up to aggressive controllers who try to tell us who we should be and what we should do.
Do you have any controllers in your life?
Consider the following situation in the Bible where Peter, Jesus’ disciple, acts in a controlling manner:
Mark 8: 31-33– “Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
One of the most important benefits of having boundaries is that we do have the ability to stand up to others when they try to control our lives. It is hard to confront but it is absolutely necessary if you want to move forward with God at the helm of your life.
It does take courage. But God has given you all you need to step out and take control of your own life.
Peter wanted to impose his own design for Jesus’ life onto Jesus, but Jesus had good boundaries; he stood up to Peter and rebuked him.
Jesus showed that he was in control of himself and would not be defined and controlled by Peter, no matter how good Peter’s intentions might have been. The truth is that Peter was thinking, not of God’s purposes, but of his own agenda. Peter was trying to rescue Jesus instead of turning the situation over to God.
Are you defined by controllers or by God?
Although we are wise to listen to others and be open to their feedback, we should never allow someone to be in control of us and define who we are.
Setting appropriate boundaries with people helps us to retain that kind of freedom and self-control.
Our actions have consequences, but If you take responsibility for things that aren’t yours–by not having boundaries, for instance–you put a roadblock into one of God’s best teaching instruments He has for His children.
The young mother I was coaching said her mom was prone to anger if she stood up to her. So, in her timidity, she walked on tiptoes around her mom, trying to placate her, and then when the mom would be pushy or tell her what to do the little-girl-mom-herself would apologize and try to repair the relationship with her mother..thus letting her mother have her way once again.
She was the one who was reaping the discord in her home, not her mother.
Enabling someone to control us is NOT walking in the love of God with them. They do not have to confront their own issues as long as you give them control over you. Their issues become yours. How can God work in their life if you are reaping the consequence of their choices and not they themselves?
That is why they can throw major manipulative fits when you finally say NO to their demands!
We aren’t meant to reap the consequences of the controllers actions of disobedience. We are supposed to let people bear the consequences of their own actions.
We are each responsible for our own stuff.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus set limits on Himself. He didn’t heal everyone all the time; often He left areas where there were still people who needed His help because it was time to move to the next place. He carved out time to pray, away from His disciples, to spend time with God. He carved out time away from the masses, just with His disciples, to train and minister to them.
If Jesus had let His schedule be determined by what people needed Him to do rather than by what He was called to do and what He was able to do, His ministry would not have been as effective. He needed time alone to rejuvenate and time alone with God, and He took it. He knew that He couldn’t do everything–even if other people needed Him.
He had His limits.
When people join support groups for other family members of those suffering from addictions, such as Al Anon, one of the first things they are told is that you can only change yourself, and you must not take responsibility for changing another person.
But at the same time, you must also allow that other person to reap the natural consequences of their actions, or they will not change. You must stop enabling bad behavior.
Why is it that Christians think that being a pushover, or letting others get away with wrong behavior, is Christ-like?
He didn’t call us to be door-mats.
God’s will is that we look more and more like Christ.
In your family, are your actions encouraging others to look more and more like Christ, or are they covering up and enabling others to look more and more un-Christlike?
If you aren’t setting healthy boundaries of responsibility in your own life, then it’s quite likely that others who are allowed to control you will be looking less and less like Christ, rather than more and more like Him.