This is the second part of a post, to read the first part go here:
I thought I was being generous to drive six hours each weekend each way. I thought I was saving the trouble for someone else, who worked with torches welding and if tired might be burned. I thought I was being helpful, even though the over doing was working myself to the ground.
When we do for others what they are able to do for themselves on a consistent basis, we are not using wisdom. A hand up when someone is sick, tired, inexperienced, or in a temporary bind is one thing, but when we do for others what they can do for themselves, it is ultimately a hostage situation. The question is what is the basis for the hostage situation. Is it fear? Is it a need to protect? Is it misplaced concepts of what is kind? Is it a boundary call? Is it enabling? Is it manipulation? Is it being manipulated? Is it a symptom of “pleasing” that is self-destructive behavior? (me, me, me!!!)
This weekend our now grown children and grandparents met on the road half way between Alabama and Northern Oklahoma for the first time in many years. Each of the cars and families had about 6 hours in the car together enroute to a hotel in yet another state. Each of us bore the brunt of the effort to choose to come together. Each family member during the time together and later at the hotel where three of the four families stayed for the night told stories of how in “doing their part” no one was over taxed for this most joyful reunion. How in driving to the event we each had time to be alone in the car with our spouses and children, to remember and reminince about our time together as families, and how important that space to be together was as a family. No one arrived over taxed, over burdened from exhaustion and best of all someone else cooked for all of us (Cracker Barrel, my kitchen away from home) and cleaned up! At the hotel, we still piled in each others rooms all evening and stories were shared, but each of us too had the option of our own space when needed…and no one tried to imply anyone had to do all the things we did together in 30 hours of visit time before we had to head home.
Margin. Space that allows us to focus more easily on papers. Margin. Time that allow us to live more easily in task preparation. Margin. Boundaries in our lives that do not include trying to be all for all with all.
This Sunday morning I am thankful for the wisdom of a little girl long ago who taught me that letting each person own responsibility to help make experiences happen is an important ingredient in the success of relationships. I know in my life, this one simple understanding that relationships are strongest when built on reciprocated efforts to maintain the relationship, and that each person, in the big picture, needs and wants to be able to know they did their part if it’s a healthy relationship. We all have seasons we need help, want to give extra help, or might need grace of a lopsided relationship…but wisdom says we each must come to the relationships with our engagement of the responsibilities to have one.
I still fight the desire to be a “pleaser” “I’ll over give to be enough” mode. It’s like any other bad habit, if I am tired, or over extended emotionally I may slip back into a familiar path…and I lived there for forty-two years until that sweet five year old voice schooled me. I think we all do, but I am more inclined these years to ask “If I do this, what am I receiving or buying into that isn’t fair to the others involved?” For too often we unintentionally limit the experiences that may give others the space to become who they are capable of being. Over the years these have been the phrases I’ve recognized that pattern on:
- church members asking for help for an event, then trying to “not trouble” the new guys tell them “It’s okay, we’ll take care of it” when a volunteer asks to join. It may block a lonely person from joining in. It prevents mentoring or teaching of roles to the next leaders. It often overburdens a few dedicated workers who may even grow to resent their role. It may be a pious issue of control for the organizers. It ultimately feels cliquish to the outsiders or visitors. The intent was to “save them the trouble as newbies” but the results are a shut out from being a part of the community.
- Parents long doing for children what they can do for themselves. Perfectionism? Impatience? Failure to delight in the effort versus the result?
- Believing its our job to do or doing because we can not because its ours to do. Boundaries? Not being intentional stewards of our time? Control? Fear? Dishonesty of the time you have even to yourself? Over working? Avoiding other issues?
- Failing to communicate honestly our needs. Pride? Fear? Control? Dishonesty? Habit? Falseness builds resentments and often insecurities that if we are ourselves we will be loved. It’s a horrible circle for many women and couples.
- Failing to allow children, employees, friends be imperfect in their attempts teaches them that they are not enough. A vicious cycle if left in place. Failing to allow them to see, experience, and have trials and errors of their own with love is preventing the gift of learning for themselves!
We are best able to live when we choose to install and enforce boundaries in our lives that support protecting our peace, rest, and time. This day, I am reminded as we drive home, that though it may be uncomfortable to consider, looking at the relationships without the rose colored glasses of “I can do that” to the clearer lenses of “are we in a balanced more or less expectation of what this relationship is” may give you some ideas on how to truly create healthy spaces among your relationships.
I am so thankful this weekend to experience what that looked like some 12 years later, and saw the fruit of those changes…and the family said, Amen Mama Sweetie.