Life is full of difficult situations, and many times we are treated unfairly or experience wrongs and hurts we don’t deserve. Life just isn’t fair. I’ve learned over the years that it is these experiences that shape us the most. The truth is, the difficulties we go through change us. Not maybe. Not sometimes. Not if we let them. They do. But, we are not powerless in the process. We get to choose if the change will be good or bad. We get to choose if we will use the thin places, the trying times, the tragedy, the loss, the sadness to create good or to build up walls that keep us in and others out.
It is a choice; it is a daily decision; it is a conscious effort to do the right thing in spite of all that’s wrong. And it isn’t easy. But we must realize that the decisions we make not only affect us, but those we are connected to as well. And if we don’t choose to let things go, to keep moving in spite of the fact that we don’t understand and are wounded, to create positive with our negative, we start to engage in victim mentality.
There’s a difference between being a victim and having a victim mentality. A victim is someone who has been wronged, who has suffered mentally, emotionally, or physically at the hands of another. But a person with a victim mentality is someone whose view, outlook, and way of thinking is centered upon the victimization experienced. They are those who make the choice not to move on; they decide to stay in the moment of their hurt; they resolve to focus on what they have experienced rather than to produce something good from it.
Victim mentality is dangerous for three primary reasons:
It permits the past. Victim mentality keeps us bound to hurt. It relives the past and rehearses pain. It replays the offense and projects it into every area of life, causing us to review it constantly.
It penalizes the present. Victim mentality punishes today. It keeps us from living now, from focusing on the moment and the opportunity at hand. It imprisons and confines and condemns.
It pilfers the future. Victim mentality steals potential, keeping us from moving on. It robs the desire to look forward; it embezzles the prospect of hope, of change, of good.
We can have a victim mentality in our spiritual lives as well. If we aren’t careful, we’ll become hurt and jaded and angry when God doesn’t answer a prayer the way we think He should or when we have a moment of weakness and fail or when other Christians hurt us. The enemy will try to creep in and convince you that your identity is in your mistake, that you are guilty and no good to God and you can’t do anything for Him, that you can’t be forgiven, that He’ll never answer you, that He doesn’t want good for you, that He doesn’t have a plan for your life, that things will never work out, that you can’t measure up, that you can never live a Christian life, that church isn’t the place for you, that all Christians are hypocrites. And if you buy into it, it will destroy you.
Just like in other areas of life, you have to make a hard choice. Get up, learn from it, move on, do something good, use your experience to help someone else or wallow in your hurt, relive the failure and pain, try to punish other people and God by refusing to get over the damage, project it into every other area of your life, use it as an excuse for failure and non-committal.
Be encouraged today. Everyone experiences pain. Everyone fails. Everyone gets rejected. Everyone is a victim in some way at some point in their lives. You don’t have to let your experience define you. It doesn’t determine your future. Get up. Learn from it. Forgive. Move on. God wants to use you, but He can’t if you refuse to let go of the past. You are an overcomer through Christ. You have the power to make the right choice. He will give you the strength you need to make it through. But you have to be willing to take it. You have to be willing to work through the pain of the past to fulfill His purpose for your future.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. – Philippians 4:13 (AMP)