Thursday, August 28, 2014


I have a friend who lost a rather prestigious, well-paying job several years ago due to inappropriate conduct on her part while at the office. When she was first fired from her position, my friend reluctantly admitted responsibility for the behavior that cost her her job. Now, looking back, she misses the steady work and the paycheck. And now, when she talks about the job she misses, she seems to have forgotten the reason she lost this job in the first place.

She says it was because her boss was a micro-manager. Her boss was intimidated by her level of competency and felt threatened. Her boss wanted to hire someone younger. Her boss preferred working with men instead of women.

What you DON'T hear my friend say is, "What I did was wrong and stupid and completely inappropriate. My boss was perfectly justified in firing me. I hope that I've learned from my mistakes."

Instead of owning the situation and choosing to learn from it, my friend has opted to think of herself - and to portray herself to others - as a victim. Someone treated unfairly. Someone who can't pull her life together today, because of her imagined mistreatment by someone else years ago.

I see a couple of problems here.

First, my friend has created a La-La Land to live in. She is telling herself (and others) lies. And she's using those lies as an excuse for wallowing in the unhappy work situation in which she finds herself today.

Second, my friend is living in the past (and a fantasy past, at that!) instead of using her past mistakes as a catalyst to build a better future.

I am sad for my friend, because I understand all-too-well the victim mentality. It is incredibly easy to get so wrapped up in past wrongs, hurts, offenses - imagined or real - that we completely overlook present blessings and opportunities and become blind to future possibilities.

Yes, life is hard and bad things happen. We sin. We screw up and make a mess of everything around us. Sometimes it's the guy next to us who screws up royally, and we suffer the fall-out of his actions.

Do you think all of this catches God off guard? Or that, somehow, your own or someone else's offenses can transcend God's good purposes for you if you are truly His?

No! No way!

Yes, in the immediate sense, I may be a victim - of abuse, of a hit-and-run, of slander, of whatever. But ultimately, no, I am not a victim. God is accomplishing exactly what He desires in me and for me, in exactly the manner He intends.

Jesus redeems it all. Everything.

Are you, like my friend Mary, trapped in the mire of perceived past offenses? Are you, like me, tempted to wallow in your afflictions? Been there. Done that. It is neither pleasant, nor helpful. It is not satisfying. Living with a victim mentality simply serves to feed my pride, rebelliousness, moroseness, and inactivity.

I am not a victim.

And I must choose each day to live in light of that truth.

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