We often think we can live in neutral. Neutral sounds safe. It sounds free of risk and rejection.
The problem with neutral is that neutral isn’t neutral.
Neutral is coasting either uphill or downhill. We can debate the mechanics of this and argue that if the grade is even then there is no movement. The problem with this is that life isn’t even.
Ambivalence is my escape or pretend stance when I don’t want to make a choice — when the choices facing me are uncomfortable, and I feel trapped. Ambivalence is a paltry excuse, but it really isn’t a legitimate explanation. It’s the coward way.
We take the neutral stance when we want to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable decisions.
I grew up as a “people-pleaser.” I majorly dislike confrontation. I would rather avoid people and conversations that are going to go in an unpleasant direction. Sometimes, that’s the wise thing to do. If someone is contentious, there is no profit to arguing with them.
Sometimes being a “people-pleaser” means I avoid confrontation so much that I am avoiding myself — that I am avoiding being the person God wants me to be and not doing the things He wants me to do because they require risk and potential rejection.
People-pleasers really aren’t about pleasing others; they are really about avoiding rejection. They will avoid rejection — even if it means they avert erecting necessary boundaries in their lives.
I grew up among a group of people that stressed obedience and submission for children and women. It was stressed so much that to assert our voices was assumed to be rebellion and an unsubmissive heart. The truth is that view is suppression!
As a parent of five children, I am trying to find balance. I want my kids to feel heard and valued. I also want my kids to learn respect and honor. It can be tough to find that middle ground. …But I want my kids to feel valued and heard and at the same time be respectful and obedient.
Note: As a woman and wife, my opinions do matter, and my voice should be heard. It’s a foolish husband who silences his wife and doesn’t listen to her wise cautions and insights.
In finding our voices, it is easy to fall into the trap of demanding we are heard, and that doesn’t produce positive results.
I want to be a woman of dignity who knows when to establish healthy boundaries, who knows when to speak up and when to stay silent, who knows which battles/hills are worth “dying on,” and who is willing stand for truth, regardless of who is for or against her.
There is never a neutral though. If you choose silence, it shouldn’t be out of intimidation or fear. If you choose to walk from a conflict, it should be because you are establishing healthy boundaries and avoiding unhealthy interactions — not because you are being a coward.
It’s hard to be honest and truthfully evaluate why we avoid or engage in conflict.
I have been doing a study on the book of Mark in the Bible. It struck me powerfully that Jesus approaches people in such a manner that you can’t remain neutral about Him.
So often, we think we can be neutral about God too. We don’t understand or don’t like the things we don’t understand about Him so we either avoid Him or try to change Him to fit our ideals. We pretend He doesn’t exist, or we take the coward way and think we don’t need to make any decision about Him until He performs according to our demands (jumps through our hoops).
The problem is you can’t be neutral about God.
You are either for or against Him.
To not make a decision concerning God isn’t remaining neutral, it’s making the decision to not accept Him. You can make that decision, but do you want to live with the full ramifications of that decision? Is that a “hill you want to die on”?
In Mark 3, we see how various people and characters interacted with Jesus. They were either pursuing Him, running from Him, or accusing Him.
I read the following quote in my CBS study guide:
Consider each of the groups who interact with Jesus in this lesson. The crowds of people who converge upon Jesus and His disciples are not neutral; they identify, hate, and fear the Son of God. The 12 men who are appointed by Jesus to be apostles are not neutral; they have given up everything to respond to His call. Those who are close to Him in a familial way are not neutral; they doubt His sanity and attempt to halt His ministry. The religious leaders are not neutral; they accuse Him of being possessed and empowered by Satan and seek to destroy His credibility.
As you observe Jesus Christ through Mark’s narrative, personal neutrality is not an option. …“Whoever is not with Me is against Me.” (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)
We might think we are being neutral when it comes to life, but we aren’t. Your decisions and the way you live your life is either with/for God or against God. To not move with God is to slow down and prevent His work in your life and in the lives of others that you influence.
“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.