Seeing oneself as a victim can become addictive! This was the epiphany I had on last Saturday that has rocked me to my core. I was watching a YouTube video of a preacher from a church in Virginia, and his sermon was on Matthew 18:15, wherein Jesus says that if another believer sins against you, meaning offends or hurts you, then go privately to them and the two of you work it out.
As the man preached, I started thinking of an encounter I’d had at the Women’s Bible study a few weeks back, and I thought that maybe I should tell the leader that she had hurt me with something she had said. But, as I thought about it, I felt something like a kick in my spirit, and I heard a voice whisper in my spirit, “You need to stop being a victim!”
As I sat gobsmacked, a number of instances in which I’d complained to my daughter or my husband about what someone had said to me or done to me played like a newsreel in my mind. I had to admit that I seemed to take a lot of things too personally.
I think that when we complain about others, people tend to side with us of victims of other people’s meanness. We feel justified in our wallowing in pity. There is a benefit to complaining that becomes almost like a drug, helping us feel that we are the good guys.
It’s a difficult admission for me to make, but one that I must, if I am to change and see others in a better way. Being the victim all the time is self-centered behavior, as we tend to see how others hurt us or say the wrong things to us, but don’t recognize when we are the offending ones.
We labor under the assumption that we never say or do the wrong thing, which is impossible for any human being to pull off. Always being the victim and never the victimizer results in a false sense of piety and goodness that no one can achieve, but which makes us feel like saints.
As we were driving to lunch yesterday, I told Douglas about the event, and I was amazed to see him breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, as my husband, he is the depository for many of my complaints against others, and too often, he was the object of my complaints to my best friend.
As I listened to him tell me that he was glad that I’d finally came to see my behavior in a more truer way, I knew that I needed to reflect on the roots of how I came to see benefits in always being the victim. Even more, when I think back to what the woman said to me, it really wasn’t enough to get upset about in the first place.
I believe that when I started to relate my stories of surviving domestic violence, people were always so pitying and consoling, which made me feel good in my spirit. Maybe I started to play the victim card to seek commiseration and being seen as strong against the forces of evil that sought to hurt me.
I was about to change churches over what was said to me, and that isn’t God’s will for my life. I just know that I have to change, to not be so sensitive that I turn good people into bad ones on the basis of how they treat me. I hope that I have not hurt people’s reputations with my complaints, but I fear that I have.
I thank God for rousing my spirit to know that a change is needed. Yes, I know that sometimes we are the victims of ugly words and actions, but I must become more discerning on what is worth stressing over and what I should just let fly over my head. In doing so, I won’t feel so much like a victim and need to tell others. I must not depend so much on other people’s approval or sense of my goodness.