Who are you? How would your friends, family, classmates, coworkers, and significant other define you?
When people identify you, they will usually say statements like, “she is nice/rude, smart/slow, funny/dull.” They also might say what you like by saying things like, “he likes sports, she loves to read, she enjoys being in the water.” They also might say what you believe in. They might say, “she’s pro-choice, she’s Democratic, she’s a Buddhist.”
But what defines you just as much as statements as, “she IS, she LIKES, and she BELIEVES in,” are statements like, “he IS NOT, he HATES, and he’s AGAINST.”
Do the people who know you know what you don’t like and what you stand against?
I’ve been reading much on the topic of boundaries for ourselves from a licensed psychologist and author named Dr. Henry Cloud, I have learned of the importance of a “yes” and a “no” when it comes to us setting personal boundaries. I have learned that if you say yes to EVERYTHING, then your yesses have lost their signicance and meaning. If you tell EVERY Tom, Dick, and Harry that you love them more than anyone else in the world, then all three of those “I love you more than anyone else in the world” mean absolutely nothing. They are mutually exclusive (they cancel one another out). For example, you cannot be both pregnant and unpregnant. So you cannot equally love three men more than anyone else in the world at the same time. In this case, all those yesses mean absolutely nothing because for Tom, Dick, and Harry there are two other men you love more than anyone else in the world. If I say, “Yes, I am pro-choice,” and “Yes, I am pro-life,” then both of those yesses are worth a hill of beans. In other words, they are worthless.
People who claim to like everything have a lack of identity. People who know what they like and what they don’t like have a set identity. People who don’t stand against or and who don’t stand for anything have a lack of identity. People who stand for some things and who stand against other things have a set identity. Any topic you throw my way, I will more than likely be for or against it. Here are four examples of people with or without boundaries to themselves, and decide who you would rather be friends with.
- Shara likes EVERYTHING. There is nothing she does not like. She’ll try anything twice. When her sister asks her what her favorite color is so that she can buy her a cute dress in her favorite color, Shara says, “It doesn’t matter. I love all colors equally.” When her boyfriend is trying to decide what cut of diamond to get her for their engagement, Shara says, “I don’t really care. I like all the cuts. It can be cushion, emerald, princess, round, etc.” When her mother is trying to see which movie they should watch together at the theater on Mother’s Day, Shara says, “I have no preference. We can watch the new Jason movie, we can watch Watchmen, we can watch whatever. It can be horror, love, suspense, comedy, whatever you want, Mom.” When Shara’s best friend wants to have dinner with her, Shara has no preference for which restaurant. She doesn’t even care what type of food – fast food, seafood, barbeque, whatever. SHARA LIKES ANY AND EVERY THING.
- Mark however knows what he likes. He has preferences. When his friend asks him what he wants to watch on tv, he will say, “I want to watch the game on ESPN.” His dad asks him what he wants to do on the weekend. Mark says, “I want to go fishing at Bass Lake.” His girlfriend asks him what his favorite color is so she can buy him a tie in his favorite color, and Mark says, “I like blue the best.” Mark’s boss asks him what hours he wants on the new schedule, and Mark says, “I go to church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, so don’t schedule me at those times.”
- Harry is like Shara. He also stands for NOTHING. He’s a Christian, but he is against nothing. There is no thing that he fights against. He DOESN’T stand against abortion, gay marriage, the raising of taxes, the war in Iraq, murder, adultery, fornication, drug usage, lying, stealing, racism, rape, molestation, incest, or anything. He DOES NOT stand against anything, but he calls himself a Christian. He doesn’t like confrontation or arguments, so he just chills and his motto is “be easy.”
- Michelle is unlike Harry. She knows what she stands for and stands against. She is not against the war in Iraq, and she is against abortion. She participates in marches against domestic violence, and she is not against the raising of taxes. She donates money to help limit starvation in Africa, and she fine with fornication if the couple is monogamous. She thinks fighting and profanity is gross and will tell you not to do it in her presence. She is fine with people gambling.
Which two of the four people seem to have a secure and stable identity?
“We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me.’ What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like. Our yes has no meaning if we never say no. My chosen profession has no passion if ‘just any one would do.’ Our opinions and thoughts mean very little if there is nothing we disagree with.” – Dr. Henry Cloud
Personally, Shara would annoy the mess out of me. She’s the kind of person who always says, “I don’t care. I don’t know. I don’t have a preference. Whatever you want to do. You decide.” I’m sure all the men readers who have asked a girl out on a date hate it when a woman says, “I don’t care,” when he asks her what restaurant she wants to go to. You know you care, you’re just afraid it may be something he won’t like. But then as soon as he decides which restaurant, you think, “I don’t want to go there!” People might say, “Wouldn’t Shara be considered fun being that she doesn’t NOT like to do anything?” She would appear down to earth to some, but she’d actually be dull to me because she has no likes – because she likes everything! It’s like an atheist saying, “I like and believe in godlessness, I like and believe in evolution, I like and believe in Darwinism, I like and believe in natural selection, I like and believe in Creationism, I like and believe in God, I like and believe in Buddhism, I like and believe in Krishna. I like and believe in Jesus.” His likes and beliefs mean absolutely nothing because he believes in everything. So Shara is not just a fun-loving person. She is someone with no standards, no beliefs, no likes, and no interests. If she stands for nothing, she falls for anything.
Harry is also annoying to me. He calls himself a Christian, but there is nothing he fights against. He is afraid of people not liking him or arguing with him because he just wants to skate through life without any opposition. No one believes he’s a Christian because he doesn’t try to put boundaries against anything God is against. He’s a pushover with no backbone. He is not a real Christian because every Christian stands against evil and stands up for the things of God. I’m not saying Christians should go around telling everyone that they are a sinner and should stop the sin or burn in hell, but I am saying that people who know a Christian should have an idea where that Christian stands on certain issues. God has no problem letting us know where He stands on certain issues in the Bible, so we should be like Him in that regard.
I like Mark and Michelle though. Those are the people I wouldn’t mind being friends with. Mark knows what he wants. With him, you don’t feel like a mother or father taking their child to and fro. A little child just goes wherever, eats whatever, does whatever, wears whatever with no opinion. I might not agree with all that Michelle agrees with, but at least I know where she stands. She doesn’t shrug her shoulders about everything. She knows her identity. Shara and Harry have no set identity. They are who they are around at the time. If Harry’s at church, he can be against abortion, rape, fornication, and drug using. But when Harry’s around his cousins who aren’t saved, he doesn’t say anything to them about smoking weed, having abortions, or fornicating. Of course, he can’t make them do something they don’t want to do, but they should at least KNOW EXACTLY where he stands on those topics IF he’s a Christian who is supposed to be against those things.
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.
Matthew 21:28-31 (New Internation Version)
I like the first son better. He had a backbone. His nos meant no, and his yesses meant yes. He didn’t just say what his dad wanted to hear because he was afraid of upsetting him. He was honest about what he wanted to do. He did get it right though and changed his mind and did work in the vineyard later on.
The second son however was probably afraid to say no to his dad. He was a punk and/or a liar. He wanted to tell his dad whatever his dad wanted to hear. But at the end of the day, he didn’t do it because he probably never wanted to in the first place! The dad’s will was done in the honest, first son, and it was not done in the lying, people-pleasing second son.
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:34-38 (New International Version)
I don’t like it when people stand for nothing. They aren’t pro-choice, they aren’t against stealing, they aren’t against cheating, they aren’t against fighting. They’re just there. They have NO identity. They just blend in with the crowd. No one respects them because they have nothing to respect. I have more respect for an unbeliever who knows what he is for and against than for a Christian who doesn’t stand up for or stand up against anything. At least I can trust the unbeliever to do what he says he will do.
God lets it be known throughout the Bible who He is. Most people have never met God, but they can tell who He is by what he stands against and stands for. In Isaiah 61:8 he lets it be known that he loves justice. In Ezekiel 6:9 he lets it be known that he is against adultery. In Jeremiah 3:12, he lets it be known that he is merciful. In Leviticus 11:44, he lets us all know that he is holy. In Exodus 6:6, he lets us know that he is compassionate. He lets us know that he is almighty in Genesis 17:1. In Numbers 23: 19, God lets us know that he is not a man that he should lie or repent. God lets us know what he is by what he stands against and stands for.
Don’t you feel safe around people who let you know their identity? The scariest person to live with or hang out with are the people of whom you never know what they will do next. You live in fear wondering if your dad will snap and punch you in the face today. You live in fear wondering if your best friend will sleep with your boyfriend when you leave them alone. You want people around you who let you know what they will and will not do. If you know your dad will beat you every time he gets drunk on Saturday nights, then you can know not to come home until Sunday morning. But if he beats you at random times, it’s more horrible and unavoidable because of how unpredictable and unpreventable it is. If you have a friend who is trustworthy and says she is against premarital sex, then you can feel comfortable having your boyfriend give her a ride home. But if you have a friend who says, “I just don’t know who I’ll sleep with next; I have no limits or standards when it comes to sex. If I feel like it one day, I’ll just do it with whomever,” you’ll be afraid to leave your new boyfriend around her.
So do YOU have a set identity? Does everyone who knows you know what you stand for or against? Especially if you are a Christian. Every person you know should know you live a holy life. Everyone who gets to know me (and people who don’t) knows that I only listen to gospel music, that I like reading and writing, and that I am smart. Everyone who knows me well knows that I am against the war in Iraq, that I am against abortion, and that I am against drug use. People feel safe around me because they know I won’t change on them sporadically. Even, people who are unbelievers like that they can be sure that I will not change. They think I’m stable and safe. They don’t worry about me sleeping with their boyfriend, stealing money out of their purse, or drinking and driving their child home from daycare.
God is trustworthy too. I know that He will never hurt me. I know that when I die, He won’t say, “Change my mind! You’re going to hell. Go directly to hell. Do not pass “GO”. Do not collect $200.” I know that He will make sure that all my needs are met. That’s why I don’t get why people serve Satan. They know he’s unstable and will lie about anything. But yet they trust him to give them a kingdom in hell when they die. They trust him never to attack them even while they are putting curses on and torturing others. Some people are religion-hoppers or people who combine religions. They have no boundaries to what they will and will not believe. That’s why I’m 100% against the COEXIST crap. How can you be for Christianity AND Wicca when Satan and Jesus don’t like each other? (Yes, Wicca is Satanic. Do your research.) These “COEXISTers” will be a Kabbalachristibuddhislamajewiccan depending on the weather or what’s cool in the media at that time. They are sell-outs on EVERY religion. One day, Jesus is their Homeboy and the next, he was just a wise prophet with a little power. One day you bow to a Buddha statue and the next you pray at the wailing wall. One week, you love Krishna, and the next you worship God. I know a guy like that. He believes in the Old Testament, he does ecstasy, fornicates, is fine with having evil spirits in his apartment, but he hates when people eat or show violence to animals. WHAT?!?!?! Make up your mind, buddo!
Know who and what you are. Know what you stand for and what you stand against. Know what you believe in. Know what you like and dislike. Don’t change your identity to please other people because they’ll only change their mind in a year or so, and you’ll have to change again then. This year, short hair might be in. Then in 2010, long hair might be in. This season everyone will want IPODS, but in two months, there might be another cool music machine that makes all Ipoders into dorks. You should not base your identity on a changing, confused world. Some of the times I’ve felt the worst was when I compromised on myself. I am for natural hair for Black women, but I got a relaxer to make people happy. I felt like a self sell-out. In college when I said I was not going to drink anymore, I felt SO bad when I betrayed my word and drank again. I hate being a self sell-out. But even worse than that a God sell-out. Stay true to you!