The security industry is big business. Every year organizations and individuals spend about $15 billion in the US alone protecting themselves from unwanted intrusions. Considering that a single breach in data security can cost an organization over $7 million, this appears to be money well spent.
However, it’s not just from break-ins and breaches that people protect themselves. We all have means of protecting ourselves from heartache, discouragement and despair. We put up barriers but they aren’t made of metal and plywood or complicated computer codes – they are constructed by our actions: when we seek to be understood before we understand, when our mode of operation is to be always on the defense, and when we give by calculating the return on the investment. We do these things to protect ourselves from being hurt at the hands of others.
It’s common practice, even with those that we love the most, and that we know love us. It’s the condition of our fallen world. Just like Adam was quick to place the blame at Eve’s feet, we’re quick to defend ourselves from any potential injustice by deflecting the attack onto another. Instead of searching for how we can bless them, we’re angling for how we can protect ourselves.
It claims our hearts in subtle ways. We don’t want our spouse to make that purchase because it means we won’t be able to buy thing we want. We prepare the case for why our vacation idea is the better one even before we’ve heard theirs. We lash out to prove how the other has failed, hoping our own shortcomings will go unnoticed.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, we could seek to bless [them] before we seek to protect [ourselves]. Here are some very simple ways:
- Don’t keep score – One of the primary ways that we protect ourselves is by proving that we’re the better spouse (or boy/girl friend, sibling, friend, etc.). The only way we can do this is by keeping track – of every good thing that we’ve done, and every one of their lousy acts. If we don’t keep score, there’s no way to prove this, which means every day, every one starts from the same point. And if you’re all starting from nothing, there’s very little to protect and defend. Instead, you can get to the business of blessing.
- Consider what you can give rather that what you can get – If we’re honest, a good portion of our time is spent angling for what we want in a relationship – where we want to go to eat, how we want to spend our time, who gets control of the remote. Instead of strategizing about how to get what we want, we could spend our time planning on what we could give. When you’re giving, you’re by definition not worried about protecting yourself because you’re intentionally sacrificing yourself. We need to focus our thoughts on new and creative ways that we could give, rather than new and creative ways that we can get. How could we “out-give” each other rather than how can we “out-smart” them?
- Be the first to forgive – There is no more vulnerable time in a relationship than when someone has messed up, except when both people have messed up. Someone has to be the first to extend forgiveness; let that be you. See if you can forgive the other person faster than they can forgive you. Extend the olive branch with the speed of a light saber. Rush to reconciliation (and true restoration; not “I’ll sweep this under the rug until I can use this against at a more strategic time.). It means swallowing your pride, true, but the sweetness of a right relationship is worth it.
While all of these may sound easy enough, they are a rarity in relationships. The reason is that we know if we approach things this way, we will be vulnerable, and vulnerability is seen as weakness. However, for the Christian we do not need to worry because we aren’t to rely on our own strength anyway (Psalm 28:7). Instead, our weakness is an opportunity for Christ to be stronger in our relationships, and that’s the biggest blessing and the best protection that there is.