How Do You Find Balance Between Forgiveness and Not Being Taken Advantage Of?

June 12, 2018

As both a feminist and a God-honoring woman, I've always been confused by turning the other cheek. How do you find balance between forgiveness and not being taken advantage of?

We are told that those "without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). None of us are perfect, but we shouldn't let others mistreat us. Something that I've learned through my experiences is that just because you forgive someone does not mean you need to keep them in your life. You can obey God and love His children by showing them mercy, but at the same time, it is not your duty — mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually — to maintain any kind of relationship that is hurting your health, your happiness, and your love for God.

I always think of a story that one of my professor's told me in college: He had been dating a girl, was very in love with her, and they were talking about marriage. He eventually found out that she cheated on him. She was so, so excited when he came around to forgiving her because that meant that they could continue their lives together, right? Wrong. He told her that he forgave her (and he really meant it). He forgave her because he knew he was supposed to, but the trust was gone and that was not something that he could ever see coming back. He forgave her, he loved her, and he let her go. If you are being abused, neglected, or taken advantage of, you are not obligated to stay in that situation.

I am a strong proponent of breaking the stigma around mental illness, but, at the same time, you should not be the caregiver to a friend who never provides the same courtesy for you. Yes, mental illnesses are very real. They are very difficult to live with, but I still think that there needs to be a balance. Your friend bails on you once? Not a huge deal. Twice? It happens.

Your friend drowns you in their woes and sorrows and doesn't care when you experience your own? Not okay. You serve them at the drop of a hat and you never hear from them for months? Nope.

People need to be loved and people need support, but that goes both ways. I'm glad that anxiety and depression and all of the other diagnosis are being spoken about more freely, but I don't think it's fair to blame everything on mental illness. You can't neglect your relationships always and think it's entirely depression to blame.

We need to be patient and loving toward those in our lives, but if you're not shown the same courtesy, you don't have to stay. We are told to love and to forgive, but we don't have to endure to that end.

You are allowed to defend yourself. You are allowed to protect your heart. You are allowed to let toxic people go. Show peace and mercy, seek out reconciliation, but don't let someone else get in the way of your happiness and success.

For resources on mental illness and relationships visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Maintaining a Healthy Relationship.

Yours truly,

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