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Are You Too Passive?...

 Dear Friends,

             Are you too nice?  Do you have a difficult time saying no to people?  Do people take you for granted?  Do you volunteer for the hardest jobs?  Do you do anything to avoid conflict?  Do you have someone in your life that pushes your buttons?  Is it difficult or impossible to know how to defend yourself with such a person?  Do you find yourself searching for answers as to what to do with your anger?  Do you hold your anger inside only to put on a happy face?

             The good news is that you are not alone and there is something you can do about it!  If you answered yes to most of the questions above then you are a passive person.  Maybe you did not know this is what it is called, but you have known it has bothered you for as long as you can remember.

             Anthony was a son of a very Italian family and brought up a marginal catholic.  As he grew older he took on many aggressive traits and tendencies that he learned in his neighborhood.  He learned how to fight and he learned how to take what he wanted even if it meant he hurt another person.  This was the way Anthony was until he gave his life to Christ.  Even though being rejected by his family, he grew quickly as a Christian, joining a local church and memorizing a lot of scripture.  Anthony learned it was not good to fight, to yell when you wanted something, and to take what is not yours.  Anthony was much nicer to be around and he definitely showed many Christ-like characteristics.  Even his family came around when they saw these changes in him.  But Anthony had a problem.  He was becoming depressed which was something he had never experienced before.  He didn’t want to let anyone know of his troubles because he wanted to be a good witness to his unsaved family and he wanted to be strong for his wife and children as well as the local church in which he had a leadership position.             

            Even though Anthony was a child of God and he was more mature and responsible than he was before, he also didn’t know how to deal with conflict anymore.  Before he was a Christian it was easy, now there was so much to consider.  Now when he became angry be learned to hold it in and be “strong.”  Anthony went from being very aggressive as a non-Christian to very passive as a Christian.  Most people, including himself, preferred this to his old ways.  Still, he found himself being a people-pleaser and a doormat to people he would have stood up to and scared off before.  He felt handcuffed and helpless. 

            Anthony was relieved to learn that being a Christian does not mean becoming a doormat.   He learned that it was all right to say no to difficult people even if they accused him of being a bad Christian and a hypocrite.  He learned that God didn’t expect him to be the “savior” of the world (after all, it was God’s job anyway), that he could depend on God instead of himself, and that the person to make happy the most was God.  With this knowledge Anthony relaxed and his depression lifted.  His struggles with people continue, but now he knows this is normal and that he doesn’t have to please everyone all the time.  His identity has returned and even his old non-Christian friends experience him as a real person again.  He now has a witness to them that shares no only the obedience and responsibility toward God and man, but also the joy and freedom. 

            Can you relate with Anthony’s story?  Are you not experiencing the joy of the Christian life or what the Bible describes as the “abundant life?”  Maybe it is because, like Anthony, you say yes when you really mean no.  Jesus said to let your yes be yes and your no be no.  I think this has more to do with being a man of your word than with swearing. 

            I hope this is helpful to you and the ones you love and, most importantly, helps you understand what God expects of you. 

                          God Bless you,

                          Paul 

Matthew 21:12-13 – Jesus went into the temple, drove out the merchants, and knocked over the moneychangers’ tables and the stalls of those selling "doves."  "The Scriptures say my Temple is a place of prayer,” he declared, “but you have turned it into a den of thieves."