Thursday, April 1, 2010
My Line In The Sand
I ran into a friend the other day. We hadn’t seen one another in a few months, so we stopped to chat and catch up. She told me that her life had changed dramatically since the last time I saw her. She was now retired. Wow, it hadn’t been too long since our last visit and at that time she hadn’t mentioned this looming milestone at all.
I know many people who have taken the early retirement option offered by their companies as a cost-cutting measure. My friend worked for our cash-strapped county, so I wondered whether her unexpected retirement was forced upon her. “No”, she answered. “I always wondered where the imaginary line was—the proverbial last straw. And then one day, I saw the line.” She smiled as she remembered the moment she walked away—her head held high and her shoulders strong. “I told them I didn’t have to put up with this anymore, and I turned by back, walked out the door, and never even turned around.” Even now, as she shared the memory of that last day at her long held job, she giggled a bit at her own audacity. But you see, she found her line. She could no longer reconcile what she believed with what was being asked of her.
We’ve all drawn lines in the sand. These are ultimatums if you will—things we just simply will not stand for or compromises we will not make. If forced to do so, we’ll walk away. These are the deal breakers.
If you asked me a few years ago where my line was, I’m not sure I could have given you a cut and dried answer. Of course I believe in and try very hard to follow the Ten Commandments, so those are hard and fast lines, right? Well, I’m sorry to say I’ve broken one or two of those. However, rather than shift the line, I simply cross back over to the right side. I reaffirm my reliance on God and lean on Him for the strength I need to not give in to temptation
I have had opportunity in the last few years to discover my relationship deal breakers. How many times would I allow a family member to tell me how “unattractive” I was, or that the bad choices my children made was my fault? How many times would I listen to my best friend tell me ugly things about another friend before trust was broken? For how many more years would I carry the guilt heaped on me by people I loved? Well, one day I woke up to the fact that I’d had enough. I saw the line in the sand and I realized that somewhere along the way, I was the one who had drawn it. Now I must choose—would I erase the line, ignore my heart, and compromise myself further? Or, was it time to take inventory and clean house? I chose the latter.
It’s hard to tell other people about your line. They often don’t take it well. My experience has been that they expect me to continue to put up with the uglies the same way I always had—by pushing my hurt feelings aside. Sadly, I learned that because I had not always been the draw-the-line-in-the-sand kind of person, this new me would tick people off. Some wouldn’t forgive me. But the bottom line is—if I don’t draw lines I’m not being true to my Lord or myself.