loy·al·ty: noun – The quality of being loyal to someone or something. A strong feeling of support or allegiance.
Faithfulness and loyalty are character qualities and values I’ve always tried my best to live by. I think people who know me well would say that as a friend and a sister, I am extremely loyal and will go to great lengths to help, support and care for those to whom I have committed myself, regardless of how devoted or not they are to me. However, the flip side of that is when I am blinded by love and the desire to help to the point that I actually enable someone else’s dysfunction. That’s where love and loyalty can start to turn into slavery if you’re not careful.
slav·er·y: noun – The state of being a slave.
A condition compared to that of a slave in respect of exhausting labor or restricted freedom.
To a certain degree to love someone and to be loyal to them means that you serve them. Often you may sacrifice your own wants and needs to do things for them or to help them, which is as it should be….because that’s what love and loyalty do.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
The problem arises in a relationship when the one being loyal and loving becomes so focused on helping, serving and sacrificing for the other that the loyalty itself becomes their identity. That point where they can no longer decipher between bending over backwards for someone and actually breaking their back to meet that person’s needs, is the point where loyalty can become slavery.
Hear me when I say this… You can always love someone, but enabling someone else to use you, to continuously take advantage of you, to harm you or cause you to harm yourself in trying to care for them…that is not love. You can be loyal and still understand and see that the person you love is making poor decisions. You can choose not to support their poor decisions, but still remain loyal to them as a person and continue to offer your unconditional love from afar. But when you become a captive of the other person’s needs, wants and desires and your life begins to revolve completely around trying to keep them happy…that is when you are no longer loyal. That is when you have become a slave.