A spiritual martyr is someone who dies for their beliefs. Although we do not have martyrs in our society, in the biblical sense, we do have martyrs, in the spiritual sense, who are dying on the inside. They are dying from mental, emotional and spiritual poverty, hanging onto erroneous and outdated beliefs that do not serve them or the people they profess to love. They are dying from loneliness by staying in or tolerating unfulfilling relationships that are dysfunctional.

Do you know the definition of a dysfunctional person? A dysfunctional person is anyone who is committed to taking the fun and joy out of your life. In order for a person to take the fun and joy out of your life you have to cooperate with them, you have to become their spiritual martyr. Spiritual martyr's are some of the nicest people I know, always smiling on the outside while seething with hurt, pain, resentment, anger and rage on the inside.

Are you like a sponge, are you an absorber of other people's hurt and inappropriate behavior? When something isn't working in your relationships (personal, business or social) do you take on all the blame? Are you a doormat? Do you allow people to treat you with disrespect and insensitivity? Do you let people roll over you and take anything they want from you? Do you suffer in silence? Do you play the role of the peacemaker no matter how unfairly you have been treated. If you do, you are a spiritual martyr.

In my family, my dad was the peacemaker and I idolized him for taking on this role. In watching his example, I made the decision that if anyone was going to experience hurt or suffer in a relationship, it would be me and not them. After many years of suffering, I had a conversation with my dad, about this "peacemaker role" that wasn't working for me.

I remember clearly the conversation with him. We were walking, in a cemetery together, where many of our relatives are buried. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were talking about the subject of anxiety. My dad said to me, do you remember the religious beatitude; "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven". I told him I did. He said, based on his experience, if he could change it, it would read this way; "Blessed Are the peacemakers for they shall suffer great anxiety."

It was right then and there I realized that I had been spiritually arrogant most of my life always attempting to save people from themselves by playing the role of the peacemaker. In playing the role of the peacemaker all I ended up with was massive doses of anxiety. I don't play the peacemaker role any more. I can't depend on my inner peace being a result of other people getting along with each other or being responsible for people getting along with me, if they do not like who I am. I can only be responsible for my inner peace.

Today, when someone hurts me or treats me with disrespect, I no longer absorb it as the peacemaker. I express my upset to the person who harmed me. I do it with compassion and allow them to be responsible for the consequences of their actions. To do anything less diminishes the other person and allows them to escape the consequences of their own karma to their spiritual detriment and our own.

We have the mistaken belief that to be a spiritual person means we must always be sweet, nice and polite. While this might be possible, if we didn't have a very human side to us, it isn't realistic in this dimension of living. People, from time to time, are rude, insensitive, greedy, manipulative, controlling and selfish and anytime we allow someone to act out those kinds of behavior on us, we are being a spiritual martyr.

Some people measure how spiritual they are by how much they suffer. Their life, in this dimension, may not be very fulfilling but with humble arrogance they can say to themselves with pride, look how spiritual I am, look how much I have suffered. To put it plainly, as precious son's and daughter's of God, we weren't put on this earth to suffer. We were put on this earth to rejoice and celebrate our humanness with each other and to learn how to harmonize our differences so we can be there for each other without being a victim or martyr.

In order for that to happen, we have to give up looking good and become authentically honest with each other. We all have a human side and a divine side. Our "divine side" can withstand and tolerate all forms of human disrespect and abuse. On the other hand, our human side is fragile and needs to be treated as such.

We need to treat the human side of ourselves like we would treat fine china, with care, concern, appreciation and respect. If we treat fine china poorly, it will break, crack or splinter into a thousand pieces. The same thing can happen to us if we do not treat the fragile human side of ourselves with self-love, self-appreciation and self-respect.

If you wish, you may email your thoughts and comments about this article to the author. His email address is: frederickzappone@hotmail.com

Author's Bio: 

Frederick Zappone, a former vice president of a national corporation, has spent over twenty-two years of his life observing, writing about and sharing with people his spiritual insights about the human condition. Mr. Zappone has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and TV talk shows including the Oprah Winfrey show. If you would like to read additional articles written by Mr. Zappone visit his "Personal & Spiritual Growth Web Site. URL: http://www.prismnet.com/~fzappone