Have you ever met people who seem like they are bent on a self-destructive path-as if they live a battle cry of “Come hell or high water, don’t stop me from ruining my life?” I am not talking about run-of-the-mill self-sabatoge, as in “I ate a candy bar two days after my New Year’s resolution diet.”
I am talking Mortal Kombat levels of self-destruction.
But, here is the more pertinent question:
Have you ever tried to save or help these individuals?
A lot of us know how to adjust in order to play well with the rest of us in life’s sandbox. Knowing and doing are two separate actions. Like the Sesame Street game goes, some of us grown-up kids are doing their own thang, and not in a disruptive for the sake of helping the world thang, either. Instead, some of us choose to act as pains in our own tuchus and other people’s tuchuses with our poor choices. We see it playing out in our drama-lust news media, briefing us on the latest person creating chaos. People in pain, refusing to deal with their pain, causing more pain for themselves and the world around us has more weight than a tantalizing story because for us, it real. Out of our humanity, when many of us we perceive someone heading off a cliff, we to want to do something and to try shift the course.
I have tried more times than that friend, who drops names in every other sentence, to save people. Forget saving people from hell. Throughout my life, I have invested time, money, energy, tears (which I suppose is also energy, but it lends to my passionate tone), etc. trying to save people from themselves.
And, forget walking lines. I started drawing them. Sorry not sorry, Johnny Cash.
Eventually, I stopped trying to save people. Talk about liberating.
I want to share with you a truth that has helped me in more ways than I can determine:
You cannot save people.
I know you are gifted, talented, and anointed with Divine power. You can love, give, and help. However, you cannot make a person change. You cannot save them. Please know the difference.
If you can’t say “Amen,” say “Ouch.”
At first when I had this realization, I felt as if I would turn into a cold person. This truth is only cold to people with certain unresolved insecurities, have a pattern of codependent relationships, do not live by clear principles, have a skewed understanding of love, poor boundaries, and/or do not intentionally monitor their own biases.
When I look back at different points of my life, whenever I tried to save people, as if I had the power to do it all, I can check off something from this list. When, I stopped to look in the mirror, yours truly had plenty of amens and ouches.
Now, I had an intellectual knowing that I could not save or change people. However, in my soul, I felt like I could somehow save and protect people in ways beyond my capacity. Despite the lack of results and frustration, I persisted. I would reevaluate and try again:
Maybe if I worded something differently.
Maybe if I tried a different approach.
Maybe if I did a cartwheel.
Maybe if I, I, I—notice the pattern?
Where was God in all of it? Where was the person I was supposedly trying to help?
They were nowhere to be found because of my will and desires had taken precedence.
My attempts to save and help became about me.
Free Will and Trust Issues
Deeply caring, empathetic, or giving people can unknowingly develop patterns, habits, and even a lifestyle of overdoing it in trying to help. We can over-help and over-give to our own emotional, spiritual, financial, and physical detriment. By the way, it is not a glorious martyrdom. It is unhealthy and ungodly because of some deep root of fear driving us. Even your caring and concerns are worries and fears.
How do you know you are overdoing it? You have repeated this pattern, ignoring the adage that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For the love of juicing, you could have had a V8 instead of getting wrapped up and entangled in trying to force a result in someone’s life journey.
Imagine spending that time filled with more joy and peace. Imagine prayer and thanksgiving occupying your energy.
The problem often occurs when we struggle with honoring people’s free will and trusting God.
We struggle with trusting God to bring the increase after we plant or water the seeds of change. Love is selfless and kind enough let go, so that the sun, wind, rains, and the environment will bring the miracle of new life.
Love is not found in our power to hold on tight, but more in our willingness to let go.
Love is found in our surrendering.
The fact is:
People are going to do whatever they want to do.
Honestly, don’t you?
I know I do.
No one can make us to do anything. We have choice.
After all, God created us as free will human beings.
Free will operates as a powerful, exciting, and an inherent blessing.
When we start trying to force and make people to change in subtle and direct efforts, we act as if we are higher than God by attempting to trespass the spiritual boundaries of His creation.
God honors our free will. He does not step into our bodies, turn us into robots, and make us live according to His desires. However, many of us approach our lives as if we have this supernatural capacity to override the sacredness and beauty of free will.
We love free will when if works well for the world. We despise free will when bad things happen to the world. We shake our fists at God and ask Him why he did not act out of his own character to force people to act as if we are in a utopia.
Can you trust that even with your vision and belief you see in someone’s purpose and future, that God sees even more? Can you trust that He knows what a person truly needs to bring it to fruition?
It the answer is yes to these questions, then I invite you to let go to honor people’s free wills, honor your principles, and trust God.
Amen and see you in Part II.