Right on Red

It’s 6:42 on a Monday morning and the New Hampshire roads here are coated with black ice as rain sleet crashes against my windshield.  I’m already late for work because it took 15 minutes to defrost the car but I’m taking it slow because I’d rather get their late and alive than dead and on the side of the street.

Only half a mile away from the office now and I’m sitting at a red light trying to turn right while straining to make out headlights through the precipitation.  My caution and respect for my life and the other drivers on the road is rewarded by a long honk and rude gesture from the driver behind me.

This happens to me a lot, actually.  When there’s terrible weather or I’m at a new intersection, I’m hesitant to turn right on red.  I know it drives people behind me crazy but I’m not legally obligated to turn right on red (in fact, I’m obligated not to if it’s not safe).

While the blaring honking is unnerving what really drives me crazy is the arrogance that these rushed drivers demonstrate.  Even though they do not have the same line of sight that I have, they assume that their desire to get where they are going supersedes my safety and discernment.  From their vantage point a car or two behind me, there’s no way they can tell whether it’s safe for me to turn right on a red or not. But they think they know best, despite their lack of complete information and the fact that they don’t have the same safety values that I have.

Everytime this happens, I feel a wave of frustration and then a sharp pain of guilt.  How often do I do this to people off the road? I think I know best for my friends, family, and the general populace.  I want to honk my horn at their hesistency, their inability to make the decision I think they should make. Even though I don’t see the full picture.  I can’t assume that we share the same values or decision-making matrices. Instead, I have to assume that they are making the best the decision they can, given where they are positioned in life and what their vantage point shows them.

Others’ decisions may impact my life but that doesn’t mean I get to make those decisions for them or honk at them when they don’t do what I would behind their steering wheel.

Do Not Feed the Wildlife

“Please do not misplace your kindness,” read the sign at the state park asking it’s visitors to not feed the wildlife.  How many times in life do we have to hear that?  Do not tap on the glass.  Do not feed the wild animals.  What you think is kind is actually self-serving at best or destructive at worst.

I’ve misplaced my kindness almost as many times as I’ve misplaced my keys–which is at least once a day.  I’ve left bits of poisoned good will on short term mission trips. Scattered pieces of benevolence on grieving friends when I should have responded with shared sadness.  I enable my own sin by showing much too much kindness to myself and not enough to others.

When I misplace my kindness, I trick myself into thinking that I am acting out of goodwill when there might be some ulterior motives in play.   It’s one of the first steps to getting lost in the Bermuda triangle of unhealthy relationships–also known as the Karpman Triangle.

There’s a lot of interesting thoughts on this theory and I’ll list some additional resources at the bottom if you want to learn more.  What I’ve found most valuable about this diagram is that it demonstrates how easy it is to slide from role to role, usually as a result of misplaced kindness.

Misplaced Kindness (1)

 

The Rescuer sees a Persecutor hurting the Victim.  In an effort to help the Victim, the Rescuer misplaces their kindness and starts attacking the Persecutor, thus becoming a Persecutor themselves. Now the original Persecutor is the Victim. That is just one scenario of thousands but the basic gist is that once you are in the triangle it’s very easy to just change dysfunctional roles instead of breaking out and working towards healthy relationships.  In healthy relationships, no one is a Victim, Rescuer, or Persecutor.

We respond to triggers from others and end up taking the bait, even though it’s poisonous.  Just like the wildlife at the park, we grow dependent on emotional food that is completely devoid of nutrition and even go out of our way to access this psychological Wonder Bread.

I’m committed to breaking out of the cycle in my head and in my relationships by placing my kindness in such a way that is truly loving to others and honoring to God.  This takes a lot of wisdom, which I don’t always have, but fortunately I serve a God who delights in giving us His wisdom (James 1:5).  So much so that He dedicated several books in His Word to finding and attaining wisdom!  Not a bad place to start.

This post is the first in the Misplaced series–a series inspired by a summer of leaving a life behind in California and starting a new one in Russia.  I’ll be talking about the infamous Quiet Time and much-debated Minimalism next!  Follow along by entering your email address for blog updates.

 

 

Karpman Drama Triangle Resources

General Overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle

Official Site: https://www.karpmandramatriangle.com/

Focus on Victimhood: https://www.lynneforrest.com/articles/2008/06/the-faces-of-victim/

Breaking the Triangle: http://www.johngouletmft.com/Breaking_The_Drama_Triangle_Newest.pdf