The Ultimate Deal
Some people spend their whole lives trying to make deals with themselves to avoid pain, or to “guarantee” some reward from God or some benefit for loved ones who are struggling. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs: highs when the deal seems to pay off and lows when the expected payoff doesn’t occur. Sometimes those who are concerned about a loved one’s life-interfering problem are blessed enough to pass through the deal-making stage and reach the next phase: acceptance.
A major professional and personal hurdle in my life occurred when I came to grips with understanding that a patient’s potential suicide would not be my fault. I had influence in his or her life, but never control. Life and death were between that person and God. I could do everything right, and they might still die. On the flip side, I could do everything wrong, and God could preserve their life. I have seen many medical colleagues suffer from the “God Complex,” believing they were ultra-talented and all-powerful, becoming overconfident bordering on arrogant or narcissistic, but then cracking from the constant pressure of thinking they had that much power.
Acceptance is a welcome place of relief in which we can finally turn our loved one over to God—to His love and discipline, to His mercy and grace, to His healing power and sovereignty. Releasing our struggling loved one to God does not mean that we no longer care what happens. It means that we have accepted the reality of the situation and the fact that we can’t fix the problem on our own. Then, if God desires, we can become His instrument in our loved one’s life.
Relinquishing control and ownership of a situation that significantly affects us is so hard to do. Having less angst in a painful situation can make us feel as though we love the other person less. We really have to strike a balance among the spectrums of control, power, care and love. Too much or too little of these can definitely be unhealthy.
Unfortunately, our flesh, past baggage and distortions often interfere with Godly thinking in these areas. We’ve often misinterpreted past successes, thinking they resulted from our own power, strategy or manipulation. Previous letdowns or struggles are easily blamed on others, “reaffirming” the mentality that if we had been in control, the situation would have worked out better. In reality, we have some influence over activities outside of our bodies, but no control.
Based on this understanding, we need to make the ultimate deal with God. We start by breaking our emotional dependency, so that our joy and peace do not depend on whether others are well. We continue to love them. We trust God’s guidance in redesigning our roles in their lives. In the ultimate deal, we surrender either our need for the other person to change, or the need to be the change agent ourselves. You see, not even Christ could change people. He left it in His Father’s hands, and God gives everyone the gift (and occasional curse) of free will.
Today, acknowledge that your loved ones themselves are responsible for their own behaviors, and accept your powerlessness to change them. Admit that you need nothing from others in order to experience peace, contentment and growth. Tying your happiness to someone else’s behavior is a cop-out, an excuse conforming to the flesh’s view and strategy of what you need.
Almighty and Loving God, help me come to this point of acceptance. I know I can’t fix my loved one’s problems. I know he has to take responsibility for his own choices. Help me to let go. Help me to rest in You, knowing that You love him even more than I do, and that You alone are able to help him. Help me to be dependent on You, not on someone else’s actions for my joy and happiness. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who is my rock and my salvation, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6
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