09 Sep Escaping Cycles
Understanding and developing Godly boundaries is an integral part of our healing process. The Lord has been showing me how so often, sin is entangled and intertwined not only within one person, but also between people.
When people we love behave out of their pain and sin, it can trigger us in our wounds. At that moment, the way in which respond can depend greatly on whether we’ve allowed the Lord to heal us in our triggers.
I used to get extremely angry and hurt when Nick would get stressed out from work and forget to show me that he cared for me. Nick never meant to make me feel that way. He was simply reacting to the pain of stress. The sin that he was living out of was not trusting God to sustain him through whatever conflict was happening at work. His behavior wasn’t actually directed at me in any way.
But the enemy is crafty, and sin is always waiting to devour whomever it can (Genesis 4:7).
When this used to happen, I would internalize his reaction as a rejection of me. This triggered a deep core issue in my life of abandonment and lack of self worth. It would cause me to spiral into a different kind of sin – I would become unrighteously angry, judgmental and, in my pain, lash out at him. I would begin to blame him for all the things that I felt was going wrong, and I would nitpick at all the chores he forgot to do. The lies would start circling in my brain, “He doesn’t care about me.” “All he cares about is himself.” “I’d be better off on my own”. Broken records that the enemy loved to play in my ear.
The cycle would then continue because as I lashed out at Nick, he would become defensive and it would trigger his insecurities, causing him to react in sin, whether it was through withdrawal or anger. It would escalate until the two of us would be pitted against each other. Only by God’s grace would it be resolved, but not without both of us dishing out and receiving wounds. Can you see how the enemy plays out these cycles in our relationships?
But by the Grace of God, as Nick and I began to receive and walk out in His freedom, we were taught to identify these patterns and given tools to prevent them from perpetuating a vicious cycle of sin in our relationship. By healing our triggers and root issues, the Holy Spirit helps us create boundaries so that we won’t be easily affected by the sin in someone else.
We’ve adopted this principle: Don’t let their sin become your sin.
This is how it works – you see, everyone sins. It is unrealistic to expect anyone besides God to act in perfect holiness. But I’m not into casting stones (John 8:7) – I believe we shouldn’t pass judgment on others in their sin as if we ourselves are perfect. Yes, we discern and we (if given a place of Godly authority) correct and guide out of love. But every single one of us has lived out of hurt and sinned at some point in our lives. So the first step is to identify the sin, but not cast unrighteous judgment. How we view and react to others’ sin is our responsibility.
The power comes when, in identifying the other’s sin and pain, the Holy Spirit gives me ability to separate the sin from the person. In doing so, I have greater compassion for that person – I’m able discern what is a result of the work of the enemy, and put on the lens of seeing the person the way God sees them. Their identity is not in their sin, though they may be living out of pain or an orphan heart (not knowing their Father in Heaven), they are made in the image of God and dearly loved.
At this point, it is my choice to extend grace and forgiveness. I do not ignore that their sin caused hurt to me. When Nick used to focus more on stress at work than our relationship, it hurt me. There is no sin in admitting that something was hurtful us. Remember, you and I were created for perfection – physical, emotional and spiritual – and when anything or anyone falls short of that, it can cause us pain – physical, emotional, or spiritual.
We can go to God with our hurt. He can handle it. I also usually try to let Nick know in my most gentle way, “hey, when you did (or didn’t do) that, it hurt me.” I usually follow that with “I know you didn’t mean to, but this is the root that it struck with me – my feelings of being abandoned or forgotten.. etc”.
When we can acknowledge the real hurts in our lives, we can more powerfully step out in forgiveness and release grace. There wouldn’t be anything to forgive if I denied that it hurt out of wanting to seem saintly and untouchable (when it really does hurt).
At the same time, I can turn and examine my own trigger. I.e. “Ouch, the way my husband acted definitely struck something inside me that’s not from God. Lord, will you help me understand what that is?”
God is so faithful. In my experience, He has never skipped a chance to show me the areas where I could receive some additional healing from Him (feel free to read my post on “Layers” for more on this).
I’ve had some amazing revelations and conversations with God following moments when my tender wounded heart had been poked and harassed by the enemy.
When I choose to run to my Heavenly Father when I’m tempted to respond to someone’s sin with sin, it stops the downward cycle and allows the Lord’s freedom, grace and healing to be released into that relationship.