The quickest way to fall? Helping someone when you’re headed down. It’s one of the swarmy ways the darkness slithers into fertile soil with weeds, choking out good fruit. If darkness can scream loud enough, or whisper long enough - that other people are more important that myself, my family and my friends (all the grace God’s given me to steward) - that’s when I jump the ship of God’s life for me and into an ill fitting boat with no life raft. Good News, Jesus still calms seas and walks with us on water to where He originally intended us. We can re-enter Eden.
I am learning to recognize the many schemes sent to distract me from the joy of knowing Jesus and walking in right relationship with others. All of us who “love to love” others are sometimes really just hell-bent on fixing everyone. Our culture rewards fixers, doers, achievers. Lots of that is misdirected energy and affection on what God is wanting to do in our own hearts for the truest benefit to others. The evil one tempts us with the notion of service and even twists the words of Jesus more than we like to admit. Getting wrapped up in another person’s drama is not helping them, or serving you. Waking up to someone else’s world means you’re not showing up for your own. These are principles I am learning in the coolest old school recovery group.
Agnes is a mentor and dear soul of 70 years who I can call on in a pinch to help me focus and see clearly. She is a simple and unassuming sage who possesses wonder and delight in this world. At our meetings together, someone shared a tool that I have carried in my right hand pocket ever since: Q-tip. That’s the tool. When you find yourself offended, upset, or emotionally drained think of a Q-tip. Quit Taking It Personally. This friend said she used Scotch tape and stuck it to her dashboard because it helped her with road rage. I have stuck it to the dashboard of my heart to soothe a deeper anger, one of resentment.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor AS yourself.” This is the greatest commandment. The one we are really supposed to “get” in the whole big scheme of things. And yet, if the way we treat one another is an indicator of how we are treating ourselves, we have some repair to do. I know I’m not saying anything new - theologians and philosophers have been writing on this stuff for centuries. Perhaps, I’m just awake to it now and watching ministry and church cost the Kingdom rather than build it. I am seeing marriages fall apart because we refuse to know ourselves and let God teach us who we really are. I see a college girl who go lost in being a man’s everything and a college boy who responded like a wounded 10 year old would - with a passive yes. A score later and neither of them know how to really take care of themselves because they’ve been appeasing another or numbing out for too long. God is after our hearts, and if that space is not cared for, nurtured, repaired by all the woundings and trauma we have faced in life… we will spill out a toxic expectation for others to fill it. Our ministry, marriages, and relationships become marred by control, disappointment, and rejection.
If so many people are dependent on me, then I have some serious evaluating to do. If I care more about other people’s feelings and aren’t able to name my own, it’s time to consider. If I continue feeling hurt, abandoned, and rejected but can’t figure out how I keep getting into these relationships, the common denominator is me… it is you. And for that, there is a war. For you, there is both light and dark after your soul. For you, the Son of God was slain and raised to life. For you are unique, loved, treasured, and cherished. You are worth getting to know. You are worth delight and honor and repair as Dr. Allender taught me. Sometimes, we are strangers to ourselves, and this is a great misfortune because we are the only one we can ever really know. What a lonely life to miss out on such a treasured friendship. For within you, is the light of Life, abundant and free. And when that spills over into the world, into relationships, it becomes the purest and sweetest fruit God can grow and then multiply.
As Agnes would tell me, “Take care of yourself, sweetie.”
Founder, Jesus Said Love