I Can’t Allow That

I Can’t Allow That September 10, 2022

I had a bad shift the other night at my customer service job. Several people were upset about price increases and I wasn’t ready to handle this type of call. I’ve dealt with difficult people when I was a pastor, and to some degree, I always absorbed a lot of the abuse.

Usually people that abuse others are ones that have been abused themselves. Maybe it’s because they don’t have good coping skills for their life, that they feel the only way they can relieve the suffering in their own life is to make someone else suffer.

Part of me always wants to do what I was taught by my sphere of influence. I wanted to empathize with them and listen to them so that they would be heard. To some degree that helps. But eventually, when it evolves to them using me as a punching bag in whatever way that comes out, then I have to draw the line..

I have to say, in whatever way I can, “I can’t allow you to abuse me like that.” The abuse they are rendering makes them feel better momentarily, but It leaves scars on me. Many times I was told as a pastor, that I just needed to have tougher skin. When I developed a tough skin, the shrapnel just deflected from me to my family.

Abusers are only provoked by fighting back. The only thing that will stop them is when we refuse to let them continue.

I acknowledge that some situations are very complex and complicated and hard to get out of. But I would suspect that the first step is always to say to ourselves, “I am a human being, and I matter,” and say to them, “I understand that you’re frustrated by current situations, but even if I contributed to your frustration by not doing what you wanted me to do, it’s still not okay to abuse me.”

I always imagined because I am from Oklahoma, or some other random fact, that I am stubborn and a good fighter. I tried to use logic to argue with people that wanted to make a point by yelling at me. But often, by allowing them to continue and continuing to fight with them, only heaped shame on myself, maybe just because I couldn’t convince them or somehow stop them from being like they are.

But standing up to an abuser many times is not fighting with them, it is refusing to fight with them.

I’m still trying to sort all this out in my journey. I wish you well as you navigate yours.

Be where you are,
Be who you are,

Karl. Forehand

Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity

Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

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Photo by Vera Arsic: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-and-man-wearing-brown-jackets-standing-near-tree-984954/

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