Have you lost control of your own life?
A better question, have you given it away?
When my I was a fulltime mother and wife, I would often whine to my family, “I try to be the mortar between your bricks, but you keep shifting the bricks!” Since I defined my role as the cement that held their lives together, they got to decide the shape of mine and as they changed directions, I would shift and twist to hold it all together. Just about the time I found a place in the world that would allow me to juggle all their whims and needs, they would go in a new direction and I saw no alternative but to drop everything so that I could grab the building blocks of that tentative structure before they fell to the ground.
I’d like to tell you I’ve changed, but I still struggle in this area and willingly give time away that I need to focus on what God has given me to do to make sure someone I love doesn’t struggle.
If you’re like me, you may feel that it would be selfish not to put the needs of others before your own. That’s biblical, right? After all, doesn’t Philippians 2:3 (NLT) say, “Don’t be selfish…Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” For those of us with this mindset, it seems impossible that we could see someone we love with a need and not rush to fill it. Standing back is painful! Our imaginations run wild with disastrous scenarios should we continue on without jumping in to fix the problem.
As a Christian, though it is wise to look to Jesus as an example for our behavior. How did He respond to the neediness around Him?
Of course, He was always quick to help. Acts 10:30 tells us that He went about doing good and He did. But He did it on purpose not merely to please and appease. He was on a mission and didn’t allow the demands of others to deter him.
When Peter was horrified at Jesus’ claim that he would die and swore it would never happen, Jesus didn’t change direction to spare Peter’s feelings. In the garden, He didn’t beg his Father to give Him a few more months to work with His disciples, pleading that they just weren’t ready to be on their own. He slept during the storm while the twelve with Him panicked and criticized Him for not saving them sooner.
If you respond to the needs and demands of everyone else in your life while your own dreams sit on the shelf, in what ways can you change your thinking in order to change?
I find it helps to remember:
- Sometimes I use other people’s issues as a way of avoiding solving my own problems.
- God has a purpose for my life. If I continually lay it down to rush to another’s assistance, it does not honor His plan for me, and I miss out on the true work He has created for me to do.
- People can figure it out for themselves if I don’t rush in. Not allowing them to solve their own problems is disrespectful and shows a lack of confidence in their abilities.
- Always helping stops people from growing and developing the skills they need.
- I can at least wait to be asked for help!
Family life, friendships, and work are all collaborative activities. Everyone pitches in and sometimes we must put the group or another person’s crisis ahead of our own needs, but when I drop everything to take on responsibilities that don’t belong to me, the world misses out on my contributions. Often, I resent the intrusion, and most likely so does the one I think I am helping.
Do you have the constant urge to jump in and take care of problems another is capable of handling? Do you feel resentful or angry that the person doesn’t appreciate your sacrifices? What could you be avoiding from your own life that needs your attention? Could it be easier to see what needs to be done in another person’s life than your own? What tactics have helped you to stay in your own lane?