Last week we talked about our compulsion to step in and take responsibility for others. We do this out of an unhealthy feeling that something bad will happen if we don’t. Most likely, we developed this sense from living in unsafe situations, especially as children. As we identify these patterns, God can free us from those places where we feel stuck.
We may not realize the severity of the patterns we’re choosing; we may feel sorry for another person; we may feel an unrealistic burden of guilt or we may be afraid that their actions will hurt us. Whatever the reason, even if they all apply, the outcome is not good for either us or them.
When people are relieved of consequences, their hearts grow hard, and they feel entitled.
God uses consequences to help us. No one likes to deal with tough consequences, but the reality is that laws exist. A cause has an effect. We don’t ignore natural laws, like gravity. No one would consider jumping off a ten story building without expecting to die. The law of gravity makes us fully aware of the result of that choice and keeps us from making it! In the same way, God’s laws help turn us around so we can know good instead of harm.
Why then do people expect there to be no consequences for choices they make?
Shunning responsibility, many count it the teacher’s fault for a bad grade; the police officer’s fault for a speeding ticket; the bartender’s fault for a drunken car crash; or the spouse’s fault for their partner’s affair. As long as people avoid responsibility, and we alleviate the consequences of their actions, we get in the way of the good God wants to bring to them.
We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying ‘This person should not have to experience this difficulty’ Oswald Chambers
Perhaps we’ve learned from living in an abusive situation to minimize adverse conditions.
Maybe we believe (erroneously as I did) that if we are truly being loving toward someone, we should ignore their hurtful behavior.
If you are the kid we talked about last week, who’s been hurt by a parent’s actions you probably dismissed their actions because your innocent heart could not make sense of someone you loved and depended on hurting you. The very contradiction of that reality and what a child knows in their heart is too much to comprehend. But, those patterns follow us into adulthood whether we realize it or not.
That same child who transfers guilt to themselves rather than those parents may grow up subconsciously believing that everything is their fault and shoulder the responsibility.
It seems ridiculous that we could live with the belief that another shouldn’t be allowed to endure pain or hardship of any kind, but without realizing it, because of deeply ingrained misconceptions, we attempt to fix situations, bear the weight of their consequences and feel guilty if they suffer.
Unfortunately, when we live this way, we can allow people to become dependent on us instead of God. Their reliance on us as a buffer can keep them from turning to God for direction or in trouble. In addition, they may avoid making choices or think they are immune to consequences for bad choices. Fear of their consequences landing on us will keep us running to bail them out which in turn denies them from experiencing the loving discipline of the Lord.
In the end, we benefit ourselves and others if we can learn to confront them, gently speaking the truth in love whenever we feel that little nudge from the Lord telling us that something is not right. Determining what is our responsibility as God leads us and leaving others to live experiencing a greater depth of life will make us refreshed and free just as God intends.Have you found yourself trying to fix or feeling responsible for others?