I am sitting here in sunny California with my dog, Grace. Yes we both made the long five day trek from Pennsylvania to California and she was an absolute angel. She slept quietly in the backseat, went pee on command at all the rest stops, and stayed in strange hotels without barking like crazy and scaring people. Overall, it went really well. Thanks for your prayers. Now that we’re here though, she’s having a hard time adjusting and feels anxious that her regular home has disappeared. She clings to me like a child and scratched the door when we were out last night. I might have to put on her thundershirt while we’re out to keep her calm.
Last month, we looked at our shadow side. Today I want to add the concept of projection. Sometimes we can see our own shadow by understanding our projections. Projection is a psychological defense mechanism people use when they can’t face or accept certain parts of their own emotions, impulses, or thoughts and instead project these unacceptable parts onto others. It is also important that we recognize that other people often project their own unacceptable parts (their own shadow or other stuff) onto us.
The Rorschach test is a series of different ink blots on cards. When psychologists show these ink blot cards to people, they’re asked to say what he or she “sees” in the ink blot. There is no right or wrong answer. The ink blot is whatever you want it to be. But what we “see” in the ink blot, is often a projection of what is inside our own selves.
Here are some common examples of projection: When we can’t accept or own our anger, we project it onto others and may say, “You’re angry with me” or “I feel a lot of anger from you” or “You have a lot of anger inside.”
Or, we don’t acknowledge our own rude behavior or flirtatious gestures but instead accuse someone else of being rude or flirtatious. Bulling behavior is often a projection of one’s own vulnerability and insecurity. Instead of owning those feelings in themselves, bullies mock, criticize and ridicule the weaknesses and imperfections in others.
Another aspect of projection is called complimentary projection. It’s when we automatically assume that other people are just like us. For example, because we have a strong moral compass or conscience, we assume the same in others. Or because we have strong empathy for others, we assume that others are also empathetic, when in fact they may not be. That’s why my post on the Five Characteristics of Evil People is so hard for some people to really grasp. It’s hard for us to imagine someone without empathy, integrity, or compassion for others because we project our own traits of these things onto people.
Today I read a quote that caused me to pause and ponder. It says, “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are” – Kristin Hannah. I might say it a slightly different way, “In love we find out who we want to be. In adversity we find out who else we are, both good and bad.” (tweet this)
Today is our last part on our series of one woman’s journey through standing up and speaking out against bullying at home and spiritual bullying at church. Next week I will resume answering your questions.
Implementing The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:
Is It Worth Church Discipline? Pt. 5
My husband sunk his arrow deep into my spiritual identity recently, “So you have an intransigent husband; what does the Bible require of you?” This was a clear allusion from 1 Peter 3:1-6, which opens, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Let’s consider the context of this message of the Apostle Peter to believers who have been dispersed because of religious persecution.
In the opening verses of the book, Peter appeals to the believer’s identity as rooted in the Trinity and the living hope to which we have been called. Before giving practical application to our roles within households, he instructs believers to use their freedom in Christ, not as a cover-up for doing evil, but to serve God while being subject to the authorities he has allowed to be put in place. Peter himself understood first hand that, as believers, we would not always be able to comply completely with those in authority because our first allegiance is to fear God. If we honor Christ and his message and suffer for it, that mimics what our Savior has done for us to bring us to God.
The main thrust of these instructions to servants, wives, and husbands in chapters 2 and 3 is to communicate the truth of Christ’s message in a way that can be received by others, utilizing our obedient lives and calm, reasonable explanation if given the chance. We are exhorted to be holy, different for godly reasons, so as not to detract from the amazing story of redemption.
It’s not likely that “won without a word” is any more prescriptive than the “braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear.” In other words, rather than requiring compliance without disagreement and prohibiting braids, gold jewelry, and other showy clothing, Peter’s focus is on a spirit that demonstrates submission to God above all without using churchy language.
Given our identity in and allegiance to Christ, it’s ridiculous for a believing spouse to use “be subject to your own husbands . . . without a word” as a cover-up for evil to justify his hypocrisy and to spiritually coerce his wife into doing what he wants.
Likewise, when our former counseling elder declared that I was “straying into moral failure” because I was imposing consequences on my husband’s unreasonable demands for control, using 1 Peter 3:1-6 is equally ludicrous, apart from the elder’s enforcement of the rest of Peter’s instruction. If I am to win my husband “without a word,” this would imply that he’s not obeying The Word. Why, then, am I the one being disciplined by our former church and declared to be apostate? It’s as though the elders of this church have prescribed different rounds of antibiotics for scoliosis and then taken me to court for recommending surgery for a situation that is still deformed and is damaging vital organs.
Besides destroying our marriage, my husband’s adherence to his self-serving interpretation of doctrine is impinging on my daughter’s emotional and relational health. Using Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,” my husband attempted to control our teenaged daughter to attend the youth group of his chosen church in addition to her preferred youth group at mine and for her to relate to him in a more warmly communicative way.
Despite my calm and private attempts to bring verse 4 of that chapter to bear on the situation, pointing out that he indeed provokes her to anger when he places super-biblical demands on her behavior without considering how he is relating to her as a maturing believer, he insisted that he was being loving in imposing consequences that were, in his and the former counseling elder’s opinion, commensurate with her “defiance and rebellion.” I pointed out numerous ways that she was actually being humble and obedient to no avail. With my husband, to disagree, even calmly and reasonably, is tantamount to rebellion. Just because my daughter isn’t completely compliant to my husband’s wishes doesn’t mean she is rebellious to authority.
As little girls, most of us grow up enjoying stories about helpless women being saved from trouble by a “prince charming” figure. Because of our longing to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we are drawn to human figures who promise some modicum of protection and deliverance. I too ascribed to the “prince charming” paradigm when I chose to marry my husband. His capability and cleverness captivated me, and I believed that I needed him to be complete in myself. I was erroneously taught that he would be lovingly devoted to me all his life on the basis of his profession of Christ two years previous.
As I have reflected back on that time of dating and engagement, I realize that he declared from the start that he saw me as valuable to him only for what I was willing to do for him. Now that he has lost my admiration over the years and I realize deep in my soul that I do not need anyone but Christ to be whole, the basis for marriage on which I was counting has completely disintegrated. My husband has no respect for my equal standing with him as a believer and expresses distrust of me in every area of our lives.
I kept searching for a human agent to deliver me from the poor choices I had made in my marriage, but in looking to someone else to accomplish only what I had the power to change, I gave up the ability to make decisions based on the most accurate information available. In depending on someone in authority over my husband to make things right, I relinquished the right and responsibility to prayerfully learn how to live in obedience myself.
I have to somehow find a way to thrive, despite the consequences of my choice of a lifelong partner, but I won’t survive if I continue to live under the shadow of my husband’s self-righteous expectations, self-serving disapproval, and veto of my thoughts, desires, convictions, and needs. I also don’t have to elect any longer to submit myself to spiritual tyranny of an elder board that disregards my viewpoint and requires compliance to their convenient standards of a godly wife. I would rather be publicly ostracized for what I believe Christ wants me to do than to live with the internal humiliation of pretense.
Friends, How has this woman’s story encouraged or empowered you to stand up straight and strong in the face of increasing intimidation and pressure to comply?