Too much time…

rescuedwanda’s been down with the plague for three weeks.   definitely not the most memorable christmas holiday we’ve ever spent.  and i’m pretty sure she’s not any better, but my guess is she’s going back to work tomorrow.  good luck.

i, on the other hand, had some pretty good success keeping her and her germs at arm’s distance.  until the past three days.  her disease, plus baby-sitting a sick grandkid on monday, finally cornered me.  it’s been bad for a couple of days, but i’m back to winning the battle for my throat and sinus.

but i have had some time on my hands to think.  of course its been with the assistance of various over-the-counter, mind-altering drugs…  anyway, here’s what came to mind today.

essentially, there are two ways of proceeding when we come to grips with the reality of the person we are.   one thought says we need to identify our weaknesses and develop a plan for changing and strengthening those areas.  the other school says to stop wasting time trying to fix what we are weak at…and focus on making our strengths even stronger.

warning.  i hate admitting this.  i have probably spent the majority of my life doing the former and not the latter.  because i believe in the power of god and the power of change, i have always worked to see where i was falling short (or tried hard to listen to those people who had the courage to point those areas out)…and then studied, prayed, practiced, got counsel, and generally spent a lot of time obsessing about being “that” kind of person…and trying to be different.

this is not a theological issue.  this is not about me trying to usurp the power of god in my life.  nor is it about trying to prove my worth to god or earn his approval by being better.   really, i’ve just wanted to make sure i was giving my best to god and others in every area of my life.   but i’m afraid it was also an exercise in missing the point.

there’s a flip side to every “weakness” we have.  it’s called a strength.  it may even be called a gift.   and sometimes, instead of building on the strength of my abilities and personality,  i think i over-focused on trying to fix what needed to change.  maybe you have done this, too.

here’s an example.  there are four identities that are closely related, and i have been guilty of assuming all four of them at various times in my life.

  • messiah – when i am the only and best person who can help a particular person in need.
  • rescuer / codependent – when i let people depend on me too much to be the answer to their messes.
  • enabler – when i unintentionally assist another person to continue in unhealthy behavior.
  • people helper – when i do my best to help people without becoming an enabler…a rescuer…or the messiah.

i’ve spent time through the years beating myself up for being an enabler to people…for rescuing people from themselves…and even behaving like i was the messiah, even though i never set out to be one.  ouch.

but here’s the deal.  i’m a people helper by nature.  its part of how i’m wired.  it’s in my DNA.  i love helping.  i’ve studied my whole life to be able to help in as many ways as possible.   it’s not really who i am.   i don’t think god loves me any more or any less because i’m a people helper.  it does not secure my relationship with him.  i’m still a broken mess in need of help myself…just like everybody else.

but helping people is what i do.  people helping is probably what i do better than anything else in my life.  so i’ll continue to focus on developing those skills.  learn more about it.  study more so i can do it in more ways.  i recognize that rescuing and enabling are the ugly sides of people helping and i may be occasionally guilty of walking too close to the line that separates.

but i won’t run from helping.  it would be running from a gift god gave me.

how about you?  is there something you do well that you need to be spending more time strengthening and developing…instead of wasting time trying to fix problem areas of your life?

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