Roller Coasters and Safe People

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I live in Kentucky, but I don’t think I will be joining the thrill seekers who will line up to ride the new T3 roller coaster at Kentucky Kingdom. I prefer to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. Frankly, I’ve ridden enough roller coasters in my life. Now, I’m not referring to literal roller coasters but the emotional kind.

I have willingly stood in line to purchase an extremely expensive ticket for the ride of my life. It’s not because I wanted to experience the highs and lows. It was because I was enamored by the charming ticket seller. Even though God posted a bold and clear warning sign next to the ride, I chose to stay in line.

I grew up living on a roller coaster lifestyle, so standing in line felt so natural. Life felt totally weird when it was calm and peaceful. I was young and naïve. I imagined how I could change or manipulate the ride to meet my own needs. What I really wanted was a life with the ticket seller and a ride that was balanced and stable. Maybe this time I could be the one at the controls and be able to even the extremes out between the moments when you feel as if your heart is stopping and the times when the ride feels downright boring.

The truth was, I was a pleaser. I thought if I rode the ride and loved the person enough, they would change to be who I wanted them to be. After reading Dr. Kevin Leman’s book, Pleasers: Why Women Don’t Have to Make Everyone Happy to be Happy, I realized I would have been categorized as the “depressed pleaser.” I was hurt, miserable, and unhappy. I was connected to men I felt I needed to care for and help. These men were often womanizers and had difficulty holding a job.

It took a doctor and a police officer to get me to see that these rides were taking a physical and emotional toll on me. Chronic IBS and asthma were my constant companions. I was clinically depressed and hanging on, but I was slipping.

With counseling, I realized that I had a choice. I could buy the ticket for the ride, or I could choose to not even enter areas where these rides existed. I could choose to find my peace with God without trying to make other people be who I wanted them to be. I found out life didn’t need to be lived in a place of anxiety, waiting for the next shoe to drop. No matter what life brought, I could handle anything with my Lord and Savior at my side. I stopped making dysfunctional men my idols.

I learned to love myself. Now I’m picky about who I let into my life on a very personal level. The Word says we are to evaluate others in terms of our deciding to have close fellowship with them.
(1 Cor. 5:9-13; 1 Cor 15:33)

Townsend and Cloud, authors of Safe People, share the criteria for recognizing safe people:

1. Do they draw me closer to God?
2. Do they draw me closer to others?
3. Do they help me to be the person God created me to be?

They say it is OK to protect ourselves from evil. (Prov. 22:3) Their recommendation is to steer clear of people who exhibit these characteristics:

perfectionism
inability to connect
control issues
judgmentalism
domineering traits
defensiveness
denial
dishonesty
other traits the Bible talks about that are destructive.

I’m not saying I won’t show hurting people the love of Christ or purposefully disrespect them. But, I will not buy a ticket to ride their ride by letting them into the most intimate areas of my life or my inner circle. So, I think I’ll experience the T3 roller coaster in the safety of my family room. You can too by clicking here!

Kathy Milans is the lead member of the Soul Care Collective Steering Committee.

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Kathy has experience as an elementary educator, teacher trainer, adjunct professor, and has served as Family Resource Director for a major hospital. Kathy is a Kentucky Licensed Pastoral Counselor and is credentialed as a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor by the American Association of Play Therapy. She is owner of a private practice, Path of Life Ministry, in Wilmore, KY.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well, Kathy…thank you for sharing…Your writings are told with such care. I appreciate that about your contributions. I was “on the ride” till I read the list by T and C as to the “negative traits” and thought my God…they are talking about the average church and a lot saints in history?!?!? Sister keep them coming…enjoy and always ultimately come away encouraged!

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