Pearls before swine…
(Hold on tight, folks, this is a long one.)
I didn’t grow up religious, have never been religious, and am not going to start being religious now. But, I am familiar with one Bible verse in particular, the one about “pearls before swine.”
It can be found at Matthew 7:6 and it’s a warning from Jesus:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Now, I’ve come across many a “swine” in my travels on this planet and I’ve given so much of myself to them that I’ve actually been stopped by concerned people. Many times I’ve been told, “Don’t cast pearls before swine.” For a long time I had no idea what any of them were talking about but when several people dole out the same exact wisdom to you, you begin to listen.
Basically, it’s saying you’re not supposed to give the best of yourself away to people who do not deserve it. In other words, pigs are incapable of appreciating pearls, so don’t give them any. Easy in concept but, for someone like me, more difficult in practice.
To help me recognize and remove the “swine” in my life, I came up with a system to deal with them using two special index cards in my desk. One is called the “Hard Close” list and the other is the “Soft Close” list.
People who are “dead to me,” meaning I have deemed them more harm than good, land a permanent home on the “Hard Close” list. They have crossed too many of my boundaries and abused me in one way or another. This list gives me permission to not pull me back into their drama. There would never be a reason for me to contact people on this list or answer any type of message from them. Every person on this list is blocked on my social media. If you land on this list, it is after I have given it much deliberation (and expensive therapy sessions). A couple of my exes, several members of my family, and a few former friends have found their way onto this list. Once on, you never come off.
While hard close is for true swine, the soft close is more of a “tabling” of a relationship. It could go either way but caution is required when dealing with the people on this list. If you are on this list, it’s because I have felt that our relationship has started going in the wrong direction and I needed to pull back to assess the situation. There has been an impasse that, for whatever reason, cannot be resolved immediately.
I have one more list and I keep that one in my purse. It’s the “people whose opinions count” list which is an idea I cribbed from vulnerability and shame researcher Brene Brown. She writes,
“I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles. You have to know that I’m trying to be Wholehearted, but I still cuss too much, flip people off under the steering wheel, and have both Lawrence Welk and Metallica on my iPod.”
If you’ve landed on this list of mine, it means I trust you and I’ve let you into my life on a whole different level. I share a lot of myself online but this is different. If you are on this list, we are close friends.
Now, keep in mind that the majority of people I know are not on one of these three lists. Also, I don’t share who is on my lists (unless, perhaps, you are on the third one).
Like I said, I am not religious. These lists are simply methods I use to be “religious” about keeping good boundaries in my relationships. I share this with you today because a) I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and b) everyone should have a way to deal with swine in their life.
P.S. You didn’t ask for wisdom but my birthday is on Sunday, so wisdom you will get. 🙂