I think this way of loving is one of the most difficult and one of the most powerful. For me it is a life-long journey to try to get this right. But, then, I’m an eldest child and have a long history of trying to tend my younger siblings even before I had children of my own. And culturally women learn very early on to work hard at “making it right.” So maybe it is not so surprising that I got off on a wrong foot here.
But somewhere I started waffling between angry honesty and wimpy “white lies”. Let me tell you, it has been much better for me to aim for the middle ground of tactful candor. The only way I can get even close is to doing that is, getting myself as far away from fear, judgment and control as I can, with God’s help, achieve. (Without help I’m a complete failure on this!)
So how does God help? First, I can stand on God’s promise that I am not required to be charge. Second, I am assured that God loves everyone else as much as God loves me (or as my Mom used to say, “God does not have grandchildren”…it may not have been original to her, but she reminded me of that often enough that she truly made it her own.) Thirdly, things go better for the ones I love if I can leave them a clear field in which to be intercepted by God…which does not mean I don’t tell them of my concerns, but I can gently say my piece, respecting their adulthood and letting God have the final word.
Slowly I have learned that my anger does not make anything better, especially if it attaches to a person. The person hears my anger and goes into defensive mode, thereby missing the valuable and important information I want to share with them. OK, so maybe it would be more honest to say I want to be in charge, there still might be a useful bit in my rant if only I don’t rant when I say it.
I recently heard this definition of co-dependent behavior: I am co-dependent when I care more about changing a situation than the people directly involved. Ouch. Yup, that’s me all too often. I think that is what this way of loving is all about: be gently honest without pretending I have all the answers or even know all the questions, without pretending it can’t get better in any way but my way, without pretending that God is not truly both in charge and infinitely better at all this than I can ever be.
So I am free to love, encourage, coach (when asked), pray and work on being a better role model and I understand that is not quitting because I am mad or giving up because I’ve tried my best. It is a choice to do the right thing rather than the familiar thing with the help of God.
Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ. Ephesians 4:15