Meddlesome

I don’t know if any of you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Tests? They are free online. I’m sure some people may think it’s all baloney, but both EJ and I find that our personality types describe us extremely and eerily accurately. I read the various articles describing my type and think, “Yup, that’s me. That’s me. Nailed it.”

I am an INFJ. I could write a lot about the complex characteristics of INFJs, but I want to limit myself to saying that we are very intuitive about people and care deeply about them. We are extremely gentle and compassionate. We have high principles that we live our lives by. We can sense phoniness and we despise lies, manipulation, injustice, and cruelty in any form. We are called Counselors, Advocates, Defenders because those are the roles we often find ourselves in.

These characteristics are why I get upset about bullies and abusers. Even as a child, I was generally quiet and gentle, and I wasn’t always good at defending myself, but I’d stand up to bullies in defense of someone I loved. I remember that when I was in 6th grade, I went up to a girl who was bullying my friend and told her, “You don’t have to like my friend. No one likes everyone they meet, and that’s ok. However, you don’t have to torment my friend either. Simply leave her alone…” I think the bully actually did. I have, though the years, learned to also stand up for myself. I don’t have much patience anymore for people who are cruel to others. I don’t want to control other people and I also don’t want them to control me or those I love.

My INFJ traits are also why I’d prefer only people who truly valued me at my funeral. I don’t want fake eulogies. I hate phoniness, hypocrisy, and double standards. I hate injustice.

I have learned a lot about the dynamics of abuse over the years through my own experience, the experiences of my friends, and the personal stories I read online. I understand the tactics of abusers, the effects on victims, and the tendency of bystanders to protect and defend the abuser rather than the victim.

I want to discuss “meddlers” in this post. “Meddle” means “to interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one’s concern.” The Bible warns against “meddling”:

…Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you. (1 Thess 4:11)

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. (1 Peter 4:15)

I used to think it was odd that the Bible grouped meddlers with murderers, thieves, and evildoers, but I no longer think it’s odd. I think meddlers are arrogant bullies who try to force their will on others. THEY are right, THEIR ways are right, YOUR opinions are wrong, THEIR wishes should be obeyed, and if you don’t submit, THEY will get angry and punish you in some way.

Meddlers often exist in families. I think family relationships are sort of like a cell, consisting of parents and children. As children grow into adulthood, the cell divides into new cells. The adult children separate from their family of origin to form their own families, their own independent cells, consisting of their spouses and their children. It’s not that there is no connection, no relationship, no concern for parents and siblings, but roles change. They must change. An adult’s own spouses and children become their first priority, their core family, and the parents and siblings take a step back into “extended family.”

In unhealthy families, I think the separation is not made and boundaries are ignored. It’s as if family members believe the core family remains the parents/siblings instead of the spouse/children. It’s like they have never grown out of their childhood roles, they never established their separate selves. They think they have a right to make decisions for their adult siblings, they get mad if things aren’t done their way, and so on. Sometimes I want to shout, “GROW UP!”

There are also Meddlers in many churches. The “authority” that must be obeyed is the leadership, and questioning is not allowed. Some Christians think they can decide whether or not someone can divorce abusive spouses. Sometimes leaders “meddle” with the truth in order to get people to do what they want. In past years, we had friends who were leaders in the church. They thought they were wiser than others and they told me multiple times that they believed that most people can’t handle the truth so they must “handle” it for them, meaning they manipulated truth. Another “Christian leader” who speaks at many conferences told me that she would have no problem massively deceiving people if it would accomplish a “good” thing, meaning “good” as she defined it. Lies, deception, and manipulation horrify me. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it’s ok to manipulate/twist the truth. In fact, it says, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Meddlers can also exist in friendships, among neighbors, within hobby groups, at workplaces–any group.

I believe an adult is not a child and shouldn’t be treated like one. Each adult has the right to make decisions for himself and his own household, whether or not anyone approves. (Or herself. I’m just using “him” because it’s easier and less clunky, but I mean both.) People should be given honest information (not manipulated, twisted, or deceitful) so they can make their own informed decisions. Yes, sometimes a person might make a foolish decision, but he can learn as much through failures as through successes. An adult has the right to decide where he lives, what he names his child, how he raises his children, who he likes/dislikes, who he has contact with–or not–how he spends his time, how he spends his money, what car he buys, what his political views are, what events he attends, or even whether or not he gets a divorce. He gets to choose whether to accept advice or not. These decisions are HIS business, and his spouse’s. Not anyone else’s.

Meddlers upset me because they try to take away others’ freedom, their free will. The only group of people who do not have the freedom to voice differences of opinion or choice, who are punished if they don’t submit, are slaves. So essentially, meddlers try to create a master/slave relationship with themselves as the masters.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I think Meddlers are abusive because they don’t respect others’ freedom or boundaries. Abusive people have a way of making their victims feel they are being selfish, unloving, unforgiving, etc. if they don’t do what they want. A victim begins to feel battered, weary, destroyed. But at some point or another, I think a victim has to choose to either fight for his freedom or lose it. It’s his choice. No one can choose freedom for him and no one can fight the battles to win it. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it requires courage to stand up to people. But I think freedom is worth fighting for.

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