“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” – Octavia Butler
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, he turned into a butterfly.” –Proverb
What do you do when someone you care about is blowing up their life? What do you do when that person is blowing up the lives of many people around them? What do you do when you feel that they are isolating themselves from people who love them, and only listening to people who tell them what they want to hear – others who are living their lives in ways seemingly ignorant of the carnage they leave in their wake? What do you do when they think they are right, and only pity you for caring?
I love imperfect people. I am also by nature an idealist. It provides a weird contrast in my life. I don’t understand why people don’t do what I consider to be the right thing. I don’t understand why people do things that I consider to be out of character for them. I don’t understand why someone who has shown me such love and compassion can turn around and show others what appears to be no regard. What appears to be hate and hatefulness.
Unfortunately I am not talking about just one situation, one relationship, here. I have seen these aberrations of behavior all around me. I believe most of us have. Sometimes I find myself holding myself back, driving by the accident scene and rubber necking. Sometimes I find myself wanting to be this one woman vigilante, running in, swords drawn, and challenging them to a duel…..or challenging the bad influencers that I think are encouraging their bad behavior to a duel. (Never mind that I suspect they may be better swordsmen than me.) Sometimes I want to kidnap them, and de-program their brain. I am convinced they have been brainwashed and when taken away from it all we could get them back on track. Still other times I want to live my perfect little “ignorance is bliss” life and pretend nothing is happening.
But truth is that God has given us free will. People get to make certain stupid choices for their lives. When someone is on a path to self destruction, sometimes you can do nothing about it. Sometimes it is none of your business. Sometimes you need to stay away. But when is that the case, and when can you just run to them and hug them and try to protect them from themselves?
I haven’t figured any of this out yet really. The “hate the sin, love the sinner” stuff gets complicated. I suspect that the simple act of writing all of these questions down sets the stage for me to share with you my own personal quest for enlightenment. It will probably continue throughout my lifetime. Especially since, as I said before, I love the imperfect.
But this I already know…..or think I know…
>If you are my family, if you are my friend, I will love you through the imperfect. You can count on this. You will be on my mind whether you are around me or not. I will not cease to pray for you. I will not erect barriers to you. I can’t enable you to do what I think is wrong, but neither will I shun you.
>I will never tell you what you are doing is right, if I think what you are doing is wrong. I do not believe that is loving you well…and if I love you, you deserve to be loved well. I hope you listen to my point of view once, because there is usually a compulsion for me to tell you what I think. Not just to hear myself speak, or to spout dogma, but because I genuinely care. I think that is part of what loving someone is…seeing who we really are, loving them anyway, and caring enough to speak truth. I hope you listen when you can hear something besides Charlie Brown’s teacher.
>I will try not to constantly throw your mistakes in your face. If you have listened once, or are overloaded with what others are saying and need silence, I will try to respect this. If my past experience is any indication, I may find this to be very difficult. When this happens, you are allowed to say “Let’s change the subject.” I promise I will try. Others have done this, and I was able to restrain myself, Sometimes we don’t need more bullets pointed our way.
>If your victims need care, I will take the ointment and bandages. Sometimes because I love them, too. Sometimes because you should be doing it, and aren’t.
>Self-destructive behavior happens for a reason. Sometimes drugs and alcohol are involved. Sometimes immaturity. Sometimes anger. Sometimes fear. Sometimes depression. Sometimes a health problem. Sometimes a restlessness that you just can’t pinpoint. Often a combination of many of these. Don’t try to just heal yourself. See a professional. A good doctor who you will be honest with. Please have yourself checked out and make sure something else is not going on that may be causing your change in behavior. What can it hurt?
>If you appear OK physically, try to talk things through with a good mental health professional. Someone without skin in the game who listens impartially. None of us know the whole story, the real story. That probably includes you. Maybe someone else can see the tapestry and not the strings.
>I believe usually people should bare the natural consequences of their actions. I think also, perhaps, mercy was not given to me in spades. I am trying to develop it. Sometimes you may have to remind me of that fact. Code word: mercy.
Lest you are reading this and think I am only writing about you, I will say while your face may be in my mind, unfortunately there is more than one face there at the moment; more than one person who fits the criteria. You are not the only one who I think is blowing up their life at the moment, but that does not lessen the pain I feel as I think of you. Who are you today and who do you want to be? If you have forgotten the good, the value you are to the world, let me know. I can remind you. I believe in you. I will continue to cheer for you to be your best, though never expecting perfection. Even when you are a screw up, there are folks who love you. Don’t forget to notice that, even if the eyes looking at you show disappointment. We’re human, too. And though we not be open about it, many of us know quite a lot about screwing up. You are not the first, or the only.