If you ask me what I feel one of my top strengths is, I would undoubtedly mention loyalty. I think most people who know me would agree (if not, I’m sorry). Loyalty seems especially admirable these days in the generation of “haters” and “fakers” (I have a completely different blog about the proliferation of the “hater”).
Anyway, I’ve been this way for most of my life. I have been loyal to people and things for numerous reasons – some simple, some with deep meaning. I have seen my loyal attribute open doors for me but I have also seen it keep me in situations and circumstances that were adverse to my growth and development.
Among the big girl lessons that 2013 has taught, there has been this small nugget of wisdom about loyalty. Loyalty is great but only when you know what to be loyal to and in which ways you need to be loyal. Just like a gold ring in pig’s snout, loyalty without wisdom is foolish and can be costly.
As a person who always tries to remain true to people and situations, this has been a particularly hard lesson. I have been in situations where it was clear that it was time to move on and I have stayed, fighting valiantly – for the situation, for the person – because that’s what I do. But is that what I am always supposed to do?
Everyone and everything does not deserve my loyalty, especially at the expense of my loyalty to God and loyalty to myself. It has been hard for me to understand that because when I start to believe in something or someone, I truly believe. It is a belief that drives me to always look out for that person and ensure that the person or belief is protected and safe. It inspires deep empathy and I am in for the ride. Win, lose, or draw – isn’t that how it goes?
But I have learned painfully this year that loyalty without wisdom can damage. When you don’t know how to let go, it can bruise. This is mainly because we dedicate and make ourselves loyal to people and things that have not proven themselves worthy of our loyalty. We meet people and become attached, we hear ideas and values and become engrossed. We become fascinated with people and things and decide off a temporary whim to provide permanent loyalty. The basis of our loyalty then becomes not what that person or thing is doing that deserves my loyalty but what they DID. We place high value on instances rather than on consistent action. And we stay there – literally loyal to a fault.
Our loyalty to undeserving people says more about us than what we care to realize. Some of us stay loyal out of fear – fear that if we break from someone or something, there will be no one or nothing else to take its place. Some of us stay loyal out of survival – we have convinced ourselves that this person or this thing is what we need. Some of us stay loyal out of avoidance of rejection – if I am not loyal to this person or this thing, it will not be loyal to me. Some of us stay loyal simply out of ignorance – we have no clue that we are being trifled with.
I have been in all the aforementioned situations. And I can attest to the fact that giving up is truly hard to do. In fact, Donnie Hathaway’s “Giving Up” is the inspiration for this blog’s title. You’re not supposed to give up when the going gets tough in every situation, but you’re not supposed to stay in every situation either. If your loyalty is causing you to not be true to you, it’s time to give up. If your loyalty is causing you to change in negative ways, it’s time to give up. If your loyalty is stunting your maturity, it’s time to give up. The unfortunate thing about our oft blind loyalties is that no one is truly served by them.
Proverbs 4:7 admonishes us that wisdom is the principal thing so we must get wisdom and with that wisdom, we must get understanding. My prayer lately has been that the Lord would focus my affections, my loyalty, on what matters. I have been praying that He would mold even my strengths to truly serve to strengthen me and others. I have also been praying that my loyalty for Him would be stronger than my loyalty for flawed people and things. It’s been a hard lesson but as the Lord has opened my eyes to see people and situations as they are, I have learned to keep my pearls around my neck and out of the slop bucket. And I am truly grateful.