I have a bad habit of giving too much and not knowing when to back off and retreat to a safe place, until it is too late. I have done this in relationships all my life; I am too generous, too open, too intimate….and before I know what has happened, I have been betrayed, dumped, or rejected.
I once read a wise woman relate that to the process of childbirth. Now, this may make you guys squeamish, but the mothers will understand. After the baby is born, and the placenta has also been released, if the uterus does not contract, the mother will bleed to death.
I still have difficulty knowing when to ‘contract,’ so I end up bleeding to death, emotionally.
I have a friend who is battling an addiction. Her spouse was wanting to help her break free of this addiction. The spouse and I were discussing and making plans for how we would support her in her fight. I have been supporting them both in this for two weeks.
Enter the family.
The problem is, the family…the entire family…including the spouse, has this same addiction. While I was away from the situation for 36 hours, the family convinced the spouse that not only is it ridiculous to think my friend would ever give up the addiction, they are going to help her get back to where she was before all this got started, thank you very much. It was laughable to them that I would even consider the idea…
I am trying to stop bleeding.
I decided to talk the situation over with Jesus. He reminded me of the Rich Young Ruler. So I tried to image how Jesus must have felt when after He had told the young man what he would need to do to “obtain eternal life,” the young man “went away grieving.” Jesus turned to the disciples and said, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
I applied this to my friend; how hard it is for someone to battle an addiction when the entire family refuses to go along, much less support them. But, in the account in the Gospel According to Mark, before Jesus challenged the young man, “Jesus felt a love for him.”
Well, I feel a love for my friend…as well as for my friend’s spouse. I long for them to be free of their addictions. I, daresay, what I feel is a mere fraction of the affection Jesus felt for the young ruler. However, Jesus did not give up hope. In spite of the fact that, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” when the disciples questioned Jesus, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
I am not implying that an addiction is equivalent to one’s salvation and eternal life, but it helps for me to remember, all I needed to do was show up. I have done what I could. I have planted the seed of the possibility of being free of an addiction and I am still here to support both of them if they decide to change their minds and fight the tide of family. And then, they would still need God’s help, because, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
For now, I back away to a safe distance where I can shake my head in dismay, weep in disappointment, thank Jesus for his understanding and His sharing His insights with me, and place a bandaid on my heart to stop the bleeding.
Thank you, Jesus. I’m here if they need me.
(The image above is borrowed from the internet. It is a still image from Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth…my all time favorite. I highly recommend it.)