Don’t Set Yourself on Fire

tumblr_lwa1g3gx4o1qa6hruo1_500Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a comment that simply stated: “Mate, you don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

I was so impressed by this insight that I felt that I should share it with you all. This week, my therapist and I spent a solid hour talking about expectations in relationships – whether they be romantic, friendly, or familial. He explained to me that expecting things of others is both right and wrong. We should expect to be treated with, at the very least, respect, but we cannot simply expect others to behave as we might wish them to. This is what makes love conditional.

I have come to see which relationships in my life are conditional. There are not so many that I feel that I cannot trust anyone, but there are enough that have come to impact my life in a very significant and negative way. In the depths of this trial, it has revealed who truly loves and cares for me. It has also become clear that there are those who would expect me to set myself on fire in order to keep them warm.

That is not the life I want myself, you, or anyone else to live. Everyone deserves unconditional love. We, as human beings, should not be so quick to place expectations on our fellow men. We should quicker to love, to patience, to empathy. We should be more apt to choosing kindness.

All this being said, there are those who would not seek to do so. There are those who would wound you without a second thought. These are the people that would expect you to set yourself on fire in order to keep them warm. Their expectations may be too high – their conditions unmeetable. This, in no way, makes you a bad person. If you cannot fit the mold they have created for you, that is not your fault. You are who you are. Your identity, unlike this life, is eternal. You belong to a God much greater than any man. You belong to a universe much more vast than the opinions of your peers.

Do not believe that burning yourself out is the answer to the problem. You can serve others, bear their burdens, love them, and help them – but it is not necessary for you to sit in the fire and suffer. You deserve happiness far beyond this. Be selfless, yes, but do not be self-destructive. Before all this happened, I was the kind of person who would burn a thousand times over before I walked away from anyone. This changed when I recognized what kind of damage the flames were not just doing to me, but to those connected to me. If someone truly loves you, they will not ask you to set yourself on fire. They will not expect you to run yourself into the ground purely for them.

Love requires a balance. Without equality, in any relationship, there will be a breaking point. So, consider the expectations you have for others. Are they fair? Consider the conditions others have for you. Are they fair? Remember the words of the random man on Facebook: “Mate, you don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

You’re still on the up and up, my friend. Don’t let others try to pull you back down.

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