There is a game we play — people in general — where we punish people as a response to not getting what we want. It is mean-spirited, self-destructive and does nothing for personal growth or the growth of relationships. It sucks the life out of people. And what’s more, the temptation to play this game never goes away. I learned to play in my 20s. I’m now in my 30s. And I know people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s who play this game on occasion. We instinctively try to defend ourselves when we feel a threat — that may not be real, mind you — and we start another round of this game.
Example: I host an event and invite you. For whatever reason (innocent or malicious), you do not attend. Days later, you have an event where you want my support. I do not come, but in my heart, my absence is to punish you for not supporting me. This is the game, where we keep score.
When this year started, I heard a phrase that blessed me. It challenged me (and is still challenging me) to remain a life-giver in relationships — to grow up and let people be free to do what they will and not punish them when I feel cheated or short-changed. This phrase inspired fresh expectation. Here it is —
Of course, “even exchange” instantly evokes the “eye for an eye” mindset. You support me, and I support you. You come through for me, and then you prove yourself worthy of me coming through for you. And so on… This is obviously not a good approach to relationships.
Let me suggest the alternative: EVEN EXCHANGE IS ABOUT EQUAL SACRIFICE, NOT EQUAL GIVING. Please, my sweet 20something sister, learn this – no, master this — now.
(I give credit to my big brother Pastor Marcus Harris for equal sacrifice/ equal giving part. Bishop Iabrahim Iyamah coined the even exchange phrase.)
Don’t hold others’ love and affection hostage because the expression is not as desirable. Don’t assume one’s affection or love is equal when you get what you give. The exchange is even when you get how you give — with a similar passion and desire to be and offer your best to others without shame.
Yes, it’s scary because it requires vulnerability where culture and instinct say “look out for you” only and defend yourself against perceived threat or attack. That’s not the creation of safe and healthy boundaries; that is a person drawing battle lines.
Sadly, most people you know live life on defense. But I urge you to free yourself to BE A GAME CHANGER. Take Christ’s teachings and let them shape you into a powerful, life-giving, humble and honest force.
Be an initiator of powerful and godly love. Give your best to others…without violating boundaries — yours or theirs. Pace yourself. Pay attention, and beware: living like this brings great sensitivity to joy and some won’t know how to take the free you. But be free anyway.
With as many chances to live free of the game, there are chances to be hurt and disappointed by others’ idea of the even exchange. Don’t fear the hurt. Feel it, release it, gain wisdom and understanding…and keep giving your best. Harbor no disappointment.
Present your heart to the Father for care and maintenance. I promise, He will honor your for reaching out His way. Our God will play no game with you.
Selah, and I love you all to life!
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