Wakana Gojo is a shy high school boy with a passion for sewing clothing for hina dolls. Marin Kitagawa is a popular girl who is very interested in jumping into cosplay, but isn’t capable of making costumes. The crossing of their interests and the relationship that develops from it forms the basis of the manga My Dress-Up Darling.
One of the first times the main pair meet, Marin and Wakana are both on cleaning duty after school. There are a number of other students also tasked with this same responsibility, but Wakana just kind of…lets them all go. He had planned to do all the work. As a loner for years, this just isn’t a big deal. He’s used to having his feelings ignored.
Marin comes into the classroom to find Wakana cleaning by himself. She asks where the other students are, and when Wakana says he just let them go, Marin pushes the issue. She asks why he let the other students off the hook, to which Wakana doesn’t have a satisfying answer: The others had plans, he did not.
Marin says that he doesn’t have to just take it. “If you don’t like it, don’t just do whatever they tell you…when you feel things you owe it to yourself to tell people.”
Marin explains to Wakana that his feelings are valid and that he does not have to sit idly by as others walk all over him.
An Easy Trap
As a Christian, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being a door mat. Jesus tells us to forgive, love our enemies, and serve others. A person can easily take these commands as a call to let others dominate us. Yet, that’s not what the Lord commands of us!
Yes, we are called to forgive those who sin against us.
Yes, we are called to serve and help those in need.
Yes, we are called to love our enemies.
But this does not mean we are called to be used and abused.
In a piece entitled, “How can a Christian avoid becoming a doormat for other people?” the author wrote:
Jesus didn’t want His disciples to be doormats and He doesn’t want us to be doormats either…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.
We are called to act out of compassion, not to react out of bitterness. Jesus tells us to be kind and forgive, but he does not tell us we are required to stand and say nothing as others emotionally abuse us.
Talk it Out
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us to talk to those who sin against us. He says to first try to talk to them privately. If they persist, Christ says to tell others so they may help you speak with them about it. In his letters to the Galatians and later to Timothy, Paul says the same thing, to let people know when they sin against you instead of just ignoring it or bottling it up. Note what they both say—Talk. To. Them.
Now, we are called to do so compassionately. We should not just run up to someone with fists out saying how angry they make you. A calm, kind approach is best.
The Bible does not tell us to bottle up our emotions. In fact, we have a huge book of the Bible that tells us the opposite—Psalms. The Psalmists give us page after page of prayer and poems with raw honesty. From begging for protection (Psalm 3) to asking God why He feels so distant (Psalm 22) to a raw confession of sin (Psalm 51), the Book of Psalms has deeply honest and emotional prayers. We can talk to God emotionally and honestly; we can also talk to others.
Marin is right in that Wakana has every right to say when he is upset. He has a right to tell others how he feels. They will never know if he doesn’t and nothing will ever change. We as Christians are, in fact, told to do so with compassion.
So get out there and tell others how you feel when they hurt you. Don’t let yourself be like Wakana and fall into the easy trap of becoming a door mat.
Note: My Dress-Up Darling is a mature rated manga series from Square-Enix and may not suitable for younger readers.