You cannot always change how people act around you. What you can shift and change is how well you grow despite adverse people situations. Spiritual growth often requires a strong atmosphere within us where other’s people’s junk no longer overtakes us. This is where the power of God does not become limited, simply because of the defilement released from another person.
This is the major leagues of growth right here, because most people like to blame their lack of growth to their circumstances or to other people. Too often, the ways of another person defile, causing us to react by withdrawing relationally. I am not talking about healthy boundaries, I am talking about how we isolate ourselves from engaging in relational growth. Sometimes our rifts with people are an opportunity for us to step up and grow. This does not mean the other person will change. It means we are not so easily swayed and taken out. For too many, instead of holding strong in who we are and engaging, we end up retreating.
The Withdrawing Tendency
Our world right now is trained to retreat and withdraw. As soon as someone presents a threat to our weak spiritual armor, we run rather than grow up. Quite often, a broken area is us is being exposed. Rather than grow and change, we withdraw and blame the other person. The withdrawing mechanism has trained us in fear to avoid society and not stand firm in our identity. We become trained as cowards, rather than secure sons and daughters. If we are truly honest, we can see where we end up retreating way more than we ought to.
Why We Withdraw:
1. We withdraw because we are afraid. We are afraid of being bullied, hurt or exposed. When we live in relational fear, we empower the enemy in others to dictate the atmosphere.
2. We hate confrontation. In fact, most people are terrified of confrontation, so their live to avoid it. I have not met too many who really love confrontation, but it is a necessary relational tool we must practice. Most problems would get resolved if someone gained the courage to graciously, yet firmly, confront the situation.
3. We don’t know how to work through conflict. We have not been given the tools to work through issues with others, so we either avoid conflict all together or we pile drive people emotionally.
4. We withdraw to punish someone with our absence. When conflict arises, what is known as passive aggressive actions are often used, where we use silence and withdrawal to punish another person.
5. We withdraw because we are afraid. (yes I put it there twice)
Within tough circumstances, God has said, “Get out there in the midst, I will be with you. Be strong in Me and the power of My might! Be strong in who I say that you are. I am with you. I am backing you up!” When someone is difficult relationally—instead of running—why not take the opportunity to grow strong in who God says you are. You won’t learn identity security without going through some stuff that stretches you. Yes you need healthy boundaries. Yes you need to keep toxic people out of your life. Yes you need to no when to say “no.” But too often, we are driven by fear than we are by faith when it comes to relationships.
And you cannot impact somebody when you’re afraid of them.
That’s why every time in the Scriptures, God would tell His prophets and people He used mightily a list of all the things He would do through them–touching nations, changing lives and generational shifts. And He’d finish His call with, and by the way, do not be afraid. The highest place of effective ministry is relationship. God has sent you and He simply tells us, Just don’t be afraid. God will meet you and your armor will grow stronger.
Question: Where do you need to step up where you have withdrawn and isolated?
Prayer: Father God, help me to face my fears and learn to engage in relationship at a more fruitful level. Help me to confront areas where I withdraw so that I can courageously stand in who you say I am. In Jesus name, Amen.