They were sitting in our dining room yelling at each other across the table while Stan and I watched them…studied them to get a feel for how they handled disagreements. My conclusion was that they battled against each other instead of with each other. When we got everyone settled down again, they each continued to get riled over the most trivial things until there was another explosion of venom from each of them. “Alright, this isn’t productive. Let’s take a step back for a minute.” But they kept yelling and trying to get the last word in. “You may be alright with disrespecting each other but I won’t have you disrespect me so each of you needs to back down now.” That got their attention. They sulked for a bit. We talked through a plan with them and they were thankful and shocked when we said that we would be willing to meet with them again. But the real test came when they went back home and didn’t have any referees present to call out the penalties…when they had to choose between saving their marriage or saving face. They chose to save face.
This was hard for me…I had to let them choose…even if their choice was wrong…even if their choice was going to harm them…even if their choice would have lasting repercussions for their kids. I have been through this with people before and while I can do my best to advise them and love them well, I can’t want their health more than they do. I can’t own it for them. (I’ve tried that before and absolutely failed…failed the person I was trying to help and completely depleted myself as well.) Their success or failure would be completely their own…although I suspect they would each find someone to blame.
So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life that is struggling with something? Can you help them without taking ownership of their problems? It’s a hard line to walk…caring deeply and loving well without protecting the other person from the hurts that could lead to learning and change. Are you personally struggling with something right now? Is it possible that you are trying to hand ownership off to someone else? A potential scape goat to blame if things don’t work out the way that you want? Are you looking for someone else to be more invested in your recovery than you are? How can you find that elusive place of seeking out help and resources but still maintaining ownership of your situation?
My prayer today is that we would love deeply while seeking wisdom. That we would remain clear about our own limitations (physical or psychological) and that we would learn to honor those limitations. We can’t be all things to all people…we weren’t designed to be…and if we were, it would only diminish others…so it wouldn’t be very loving. I’m praying that we would also have clarity about our own stuff…that we would fully invest in these lives that we live and not squander the blessings by believing that they are obstacles.
Much love friends,