How can a Christian avoid becoming a doormat for other people?

A doormat is a rug placed by a doorway on which people wipe off their shoes. Figuratively, the term doormat functions as a descriptor for people who allow themselves to be walked on—taken advantage of or used by others without combating it in any way. Sometime Christians believe that because Jesus taught that we should "turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5:39) and "do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27), that He meant we should allow people to mistreat us, but this is not the case. It is a mistake to assume that being a Christian means continually putting up with derogatory or abusive treatment; even Jesus had boundaries.

Jesus didn't want His disciples to be doormats and He doesn't want us to be doormats either. In the above verses, Jesus was teaching His disciples how to respond to personal slights in their everyday lives. As Christians, we are representatives of God, so we need to be an example of His character to the world. This means that when we experience "slaps on the cheek," instead of following the normal human reaction, which would be to respond in retaliation out of anger, we can take the high road and respond in love, choosing to forgive (Proverbs 19:11). Turning the other cheek does not mean letting people walk all over us; it means walking in forgiveness, not being vindictive, but respectful, letting things roll off. This prevents bitterness from growing within our own hearts (Hebrews 12:15).

It can seem selfless and noble when a Christian allows him/herself to become a doormat for others, but there could be a deceptively selfish motivation behind their doing so—one they may not even realize. If people have a low sense of self-worth, they may allow their insecurities to rule their decisions and how they allow others to treat them. Because they are afraid of rejection, they are unable to set up healthy boundaries and they allow their personal selves and spaces to be invaded by others in hopes that they will be loved, appreciated, and taken care of in return. Instead of finding their worth and validation from God, they attempt to be extremely compliant in order earn their validation from fallible people, only to end up disappointed.

Having a strong sense of our identity in Christ helps prevent us from becoming doormats for others; it is important that we understand how valued we are by God. We are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), and He always wants the best for us (Romans 8:28–39). In Jesus, we are righteous in God's sight, thanks to Jesus' death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:21), and because of this we have the right to become children of God (John 1:12; Philippians 2:14–15; Ephesians 5:1). There should be no allowance for one who is a child of the Most High God to be a doormat. We live in Christ and therefore we should follow His example (Galatians 2:20). Jesus served others with willingness, but He also did not allow people to take advantage of Him—He gave to them only from what He was ready to give. Jesus refused to be a doormat and take whatever people threw at Him, whether that be wanting to make Him their king (John 6:15) or throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29). Jesus removed Himself from these extreme moments and snuck away from the crowds, many times to spend time with God instead.

Another thing we can do to avoid being a doormat is to establish healthy boundaries within our interpersonal relationships; we need to learn that it is okay to say "no." We cannot have healthy relationships without healthy boundaries. If we cannot say "no," then we also cannot truly say "yes." When we allow ourselves to be a doormat for others, what we are really doing is enabling them to continue in their own irresponsibility or sins. This is selfish on our part, because it stems from our own desire to have others love or need us. Rather than letting them live and hopefully learn from their own experiences, we are compelled to attempt to rescue them from the consequences they deserve. This merely enables them to continue living the same way and doesn't cause them to need us as much as it causes them to use us—both are equally bad. Many times, an inability to say "no" is a sign of a doormat; even God says "no" at times.

There is always an underlying reason (or reasons) behind our fear to say "no" or our seemingly inescapable doormat status. It's an important step for us to be able to identify the source of these fears and issues so that we can begin the process of overcoming them. If a child experiences trauma, for instance—perhaps seeing one of their parents behaving as a doormat—they will learn to do the same. They may become trapped in lies that tell them they have to behave in the same way, being overly submissive and living as a doormat because they don't know any other way. Bible-based Christian counseling can help shed light on the lies and turn things around, helping people who have been living as doormats to rise up in God's power and reject the lies of Satan they have believed as truth. Our minds can be transformed through the truth and power of God (Romans 12:1–2).

Related Truth:

What is the line between helping someone and someone taking advantage of you?

What is meant by the command to love one another?

What does it mean for Christians to be in the world but not of the world?

What does the Bible say about dealing with difficult people?

How can a Christian be an ambassador for Christ?

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