When we encounter the brokenness and its effects in another, we are often quick to speak. Dispensing advice and quick solutions that, while potentially sound, lack in the ability to take root.
Much of the reason for this is because of our discomfort dealing with the pain or mess of another, so we give quick words in an effort to comfort our own self. Then we can tell ourselves that “at least I tried” and “too bad they didn’t listen.”
It is a response that lacks compassion.
Have you ever been told to “just stop” or to “let go” of something that you really wanted? How effective was that brief counsel for you?
Just stop drinking.
Let go of that unhealthy relationship.
Just stop worrying about having a baby.
Just stop looking at pornography.
Let go of wanting revenge.
Despite what it looks like from our vantage point, the sin or poor decision is felt as beneficial to the one immersed in it. The least painful of potential options.
It is the thing that is adding perceived value or worth to the Self; all about identity.
When our identity is involved, we cannot just let go of something unhealthy because it is part of who we define our Self to be.
Tell the workaholic to just work less. Here is a person who defines their value by how much they produce or by their position on the comparative ladder of success. He may, by some force of will, be able to do it for a few weeks (worrying the entire time about what is not getting done), but until he changes his definition of what makes him valuable, and understands the lie he is believing, he is likely to go back to old patterns.
Tell the person who eats for comfort to just eat less. Or tell the woman who needs to have a sex to feel loved to stop sleeping around. Or tell the pastor who craves affirmation to just stop caring what people think (that one hits close to my heart).
Until there is a change in the foundation, there will not be a change in the behavioral fruit. Sorry to mix metaphors.
There is one foundation that promises rest. Promises freedom from the exhausting standards of this world.
Jesus sustains our identity, not because we earn it in some way, but by His grace and truth and love.
Truth to combat the lies we believe. Grace for when we mess up. Love that never lessens or fades.
It takes compassion to get to the heart issue that is driving someone toward bad and unhealthy behaviors. It takes vulnerability to reveal ones own struggles and failures. And it takes understanding that this is often a long, painful, and laborious process filled with failures…and glorious successes.
Stopping is possible, but it takes the right foundation.
When you think of a sin you struggle with, what is the sense of value you are attempting to give your Self? What lie are you falling for?