“You’ve been STRIPPED!”
Okay, we never really hear this aloud. We might have occasion sometime in our lives to hear “You’ve been Punk’d!”
But you probably will never hear “You’ve been stripped!”
Yet, the chances are much greater that you will experience this once, if not several times in your life.
I’m thinking today about that kind of humiliating, raw, numbing slap to the proverbial face when a boss, a minister, or maybe some other authority figures or even co-workers or dare I say “friends” that you have, for whatever reason, subjected yourself to – takes it upon themselves to transfer their own lack of emotional control on to you.
Something didn’t happen the way they wanted it to. Maybe you, as the employee, congregant, son or daughter dropped the ball somewhere. Or worse, you are so good at what you do that you have incurred the “King Saul-esque” wrath upon your “David-esque” soul and now you are fleeing arrows and spears designed to hurt you, if not destroy you.
Behind your back, these authorities or “friends” attempt to unravel your reputation in the minds of others. They seek to, in a sense, strip you of your dignity.
As sad as this sounds, as I go about listening to more and more stories from people in all walks of life, I am convinced that this may be one of the most common experiences of persecution in the “free world” of Christianity. Some folks warn us that “God is going to send persecution to America!” Well, think again – it’s already here, my friend. And I am personally one who has experienced mild forms of outward persecution a few times. And I have experienced being “subtly stripped” by fellow Christians… guess which one hurt me more?
Yep – I have in some ways been forever altered by various forms of “stripping” but more on that later.
You see – the reality is that this subtle persecution happens often, and it hits much closer to home. And it happens RIGHT UNDER our noses… and it happens to us. And sometimes it happens THROUGH US!
Yes, you and I, being imperfect beings with 2 diametrically and eternally opposed natures (Read Galatians 5 – SPIRIT VS FLESH) sometimes open our mouths as the younger, less mature and impetuous Peter – and speak forth that which comes not from the heart of God, but from our ugly, self-focused FLESH nature.
And if you think I am excluding myself from this horrific but all-too-human occurrence, think again.
The good thing is, as I am wounded by the stripping, I learn NOT to repeat this horrible deed to others.
Now please understand, I am not merely referring to the crazy Pizza Delivery Manager dude who loses his cool every time there is a rush of orders and the said Manager dude starts screaming his head off at all of the drivers until the storm calms – promptly thanking every driver for a fabulous night of business. Ha ha
No, that hurts like – not at all!!
Im talking about those targeted, direct attacks upon you and I, that happen either in our presence or behind our backs, where the goal is to humiliate, to dishonor, and devalue your character, reputation and/or ability.
THAT is what I call being “stripped” and I’m thinking now it is so common, most of us probably have been stripped before – psychologically, emotionally and spiritually attacked from someone we are unfortunately exposed because we have subjected ourselves to their attacks.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN STRIPPED.
- FORGIVE THEM – You HAVE to forgive. You have to. For your sake. But of course this in no way means you must accept their actions. God may release you from this scenario, and he may allow a period of “regular stripping” until he releases you. The Bible says we must be patient under affliction. And it says we must pray for our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us.
- APPEAL TO THEM – Often I have found that in MANY cases, those who treat us this way have no idea what they are doing and when strongly and bravely appealed to in an honorable way, they will apologize, see what is happening, and change – if not TRANSFORM the way they deal with people.
- BOUNDARIES – Establish boundaries – INNER BOUNDARIES come before OUTSIDE BOUNDARIES! Set up a boundary inside you. Remove these people from the intimate level you may have allowed them to have previously, and you no, put them in the “unsafe zone” in your heart until further notice.
- LEARN FROM THEM – We all think we are above such treatment, UNTIL – we find ourselves in similar circumstance. . Unfortunately life itself is incredibly difficult, stressful, and constantly under scrutiny. Add the Devil and the attacks that come that way, and it’s almost impossible for a human being to remain 100% innocent of taking out the humungous stress upon another. This is not AN EXCUSE at all, mind you! But it is an EXPLANATION.
- GET HEALING – You need to gather some “David’s mighty men” around you – don’t isolate yourself! And don’t build up a BRUTE SQUAD of vengeful friends. The goal is healing, forgiveness, unity. And get a COUNSELOR or THERAPIST involved to help you navigate through all of this. It’s possible this may trigger the memory and perhaps re-victimization of additional past experiences.
- WATCH WHAT YOU VOW! Yes, we human beings, when subjected to a scenario that brings forth a certain amount of pain, have an “auto-default” “vow” machine.
- When this kind of pain reaches a certain threshold, the vow automatically enters our thoughts, and we COMMIT MENTALLY TO THAT VOW without even knowing what in the -harbinger – we just vowed! “I will never trust men again!” “I will never get married – ever!” “I will never trust another church again AS LONG AS I LIVE!”
- You can almost hear (in those words) and see this heroic figure on a white horse overlooking a battle scene and perhaps – even a Scarlett Ohara-esque cry to the sky above! (thats at least 3 “esques” for me in this diatribe. I apologize for that! “I will never use “esque” in my posts EVER AGAIN AS LONG AS I LIVE!”) You know it’s a considerable “vow” when you hear those words “EVER AGAIN, AS LONG AS I LIVE!” Thats when you know this vow took deep hold inside you.
- Well, I totally get it. But, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t allow the sin of someone else to lock you into relationship prison – where now you will live a monk-ish (I didn’t say “esque”!) cloistered life in that area – which often bleeds into the other areas sooner or later. Forgiveness and trust in God is THE ONLY WAY I personally have found to stay free, and even considerably abuse-free regardless of the severity of the persecution.
- ASK FOR FORGIVENESS – If you have stripped someone, be the bigger person – go to them and apologize! They will actually be shocked at your vulnerability. “But now they won’t think I’m perfect!” So what? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a perfect friend or even leader. I want a loving, imperfect but authentic friend.
If you have been stripped or are presently being such, I sincerely offer my prayers to you.
Did you know that God actually uses persecution to MAKE US BETTER!!!
What? How is that possible?
Well I am out of time for today, but I will show you how the abuse of others can actually SPEED YOU INTO GREATER GROWTH, MATURITY and even MINISTRY EFFECTIVENESS next time!
Photo of King Saul – used by permission, Creative Commons License Under Public Domain – Wikipedia