Feb 1, 2010

when a friend hurts and struggles - a few thoughts

Are there people in your life right now whom you are watching struggle?

Maybe they are dealing with consequences of choices that came about through a spiral of chaos they created in rebellion.  Or perhaps it's more innocent - maybe they were are hurting over a situation that has been put upon them.

Sometimes it's hard to tell which is actually the real situation.  Often our friends spin it one way, but there is more responsibility on their hands than they will admit to (or can even realize).
I just had a chat with someone about a principle I want to share with you.

When a friend needs a cocoon of hell to grow, be careful that your compassion in the right way does not cut it open in the wrong way... because your desire to spare them the journey that is needed to create the butterfly may actually work against what God is attempting to do in their life.

Our temptation is to want them to feel good about all the great things they've done or are doing, but in doing so we may corrupt the productivity that was happening by them hitting rock bottom.

Keep in mind, I'm not advocating we abandon our friends,  for encouragement is always appropriate...

as long as it occurs in the right way and right timing.

Otherwise, you are asking the caterpillar to act like a butterfly... when you haven't allowed for the hard, uncomfortable, messy, painful, awkward metamorphosis to grow the wings that person we love needs to soar.

Or as my friend put it - sometimes when someone's back is against the wall, we do them a disservice by continuing to move it with what we think is positive help.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebtews 11:7-13)


Jody said...

Great post...it hits me hard as a father and a brother, watching family go through horrendous times...a lot of prayer is needed to being available in the way God would have us to be.

deb said...

very thought provoking!! this is something one of the leaders in our church talked about at our prayer time this week.. and that is when our compassion to "help" overrides our friend's ability to grow and heal.. in codependency it is called "enable" and frequently our friend will tell everyone stories from their perspective trying to find an enabler. I have been an enabler for a very long time, and have broken out of that type of relationship with people. Honest and loving friendship tells the truth, and doesn't try to rescue our friend..even when its painful to watch.. so that when they hit bottom they can reach out to Jesus for help, healing, rescue...

Anonymous said...

The caution expressed here should not be taken to be a principal. Judgement is required for each situation. If a brother is asking for your help, Jesus instructs us to do what is within our means/power to help him. I asked for help for my son from an elder in my church and he questioned whether my son had "reached rock bottom" and dismissed my plea. Two months later my son was dead from suicide. Compassion does not require "means testing" and conservatives should not adopt Republican ideals as Christian when they do not convey the love and compassion that Jesus taught us to have for each other.

Tony Myles said...

anonymous -

Wow. I'm so sorry to hear about your son. There truly are no words that would help me connect with you on that, except to say that if it happened to me via one of my boys, I'd really, really struggle with life (and possibly a relationship with the church) after that.

I'm with you on the need for cautionary judgment, and that was my main point. We often fly into situations thinking that all we need to give is "GRACE" or "SPACE" when there are times to get in someone's "FACE" (see Galatians 2) or structure a "BRACE" around their lives in a way that doesn't take us down with them (Galatians 6).

In doing so I don't know that we need to slap a political label on anything... while the Gospel is highly political in application (meaning, it has implications for all politics) it is non-partisan at its core and should stay that way.

I'd love to chat more about your thoughts. How can we connect? Email me at tonymyles@hotmail.com