Has someone ever tried to make you feel responsible for their own emptiness/loneliness?
That happened to me yesterday when I received a phone call that was heavy with silent accusation, simmering resentment, and childish petulance. (Let me just say that if you know me personally and we spoke on the phone yesterday, I am not writing about you! 🙂 The aforementioned person does not read my blog).
I was given a long list of grievances and the unspoken message to me was, “Now what are YOU going to do about this? You have the power to make it better for me, so do it!”
When I did not take the bait, a “suggestion” (which was nothing more than a thinly veiled demand) was made.
It was time to draw a line in the sand.
I told this person in no uncertain terms that this request would not be granted and then I explained why with firmness and finality.
It did not go over well and the call soon ended.
I was not playing the game. I refused to play the part that this person had written for me and anger was the result.
Years ago, I would have taken on this responsibility, feeling that I had to do what I could to alleviate this person’s pain. I might have pushed all my other responsibilities into the background so that I could make this person my priority. After all, they needed me! That was my job, right?
I am not responsible for anybody else but me.
I cannot control another person.
I am not in charge of someone else’s mood.
I am never called to take ownership of another’s issues.
I am not to blame for real or imagined lack in another’s life.
I am not responsible for the poor choices they have made.
I cannot prevent them from making those poor choices.
I am not capable of meeting anyone’s deepest need.
I cannot be everything to everyone…I am no one’s savior.
There is only one Savior and His Name is Jesus.
I can tell that person about Jesus…that He is the only one who can handle the sheer depth of their need and not turn away, not become weary, not become irritable, not throw up His hands in despair.
He loves with a perfect love…a love that is both tender and tough, fully satisfying and incredibly challenging, sweet and fiery, intense and passionate, deep and wide.
He alone is the only Answer to every question and the Meeter of every need.
Almost as soon as I got off the phone, the Accuser started right in on me. He hissed, “Ha! You call yourself a Christian??? Aren’t you supposed to serve others and not think of yourself? You weren’t very loving right then, were you??? That poor person…her entire day has been ruined because you can’t be bothered to help! You are incredibly selfish. Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
As much as I knew that the enemy speaks nothing but lies, I began to feel a sense of unease. So, I called my mom.
I asked her how does one know when to help (with healthy boundaries firmly intact) and when to disengage and rightfully say no?
My very wise mother reminded me of God’s priorities:
(In that order)
She helped me to see that if I had given in to this person’s particular demands, all of those relationships would have suffered and I could not have fulfilled my God-given (and joyful!) responsibilities.
Once those top three priorities have been taken care of, then I am free to minister to others. But I dare not place anyone else above those three. Anytime we operate outside of God’s order, we are inviting chaos and disorder into our lives.
I will admit that I do not like the fact that this person is angry with me right now. I want everyone to like me and be pleased with my decisions. However, that is just not realistic or possible and my sense of self worth cannot be determined by another’s opinion. I must allow God’s Word to be the definitive and final verdict on my worth.
So, I rest in the fact that I am doing what I feel Jesus has led me to do and I will trust Him with my reputation.
I am grateful for the fact that He allows me to operate in such freedom within relationships. That ultimately brings peace to my heart…even if those around me are operating in chaos.
What about you? Do you have a problem saying no? Or have you gained victory in that area?
Today, let’s remember our priorities and refuse to take on responsibilities that were never ours in the first place.