NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 19 — Thoughts from coffee with a friend
It’s hard to watch people we love live through the consequences of their actions. Sometimes it’s a one-time action and sometimes it’s a chronic dysfunction that showers their lives with unwanted results. Even when we have no real role in their predicament, the outcome can affect us in a variety of ways. Maybe if we’d been more involved, we could’ve saved them the pain of this. Now that they’re in this situation, it’s going to require more of our time or resources to help them. It’s their problem, but it impacts us as well. Can’t get away from it. We’re connected.
I was having coffee with a friend the other day. He had something on his mind that he wanted to talk about, so we’d scheduled some time to meet. He wanted to talk about a loved one of his who is dealing with some consequences at the moment. My friend was dealing with a myriad of emotions about the situation. There was a little guilt. There was some helplessness because he wasn’t in a position where his assistance was welcome — and part of him really wanted to help.
As we were talking, I tried to reassure him that he had nothing to feel guilty about. The choices made by his loved one were their choices. So the consequences were the loved one’s to own. The helplessness that he felt was understandable, but again, it wasn’t his situation to correct or unwind or put back in the bottle.
In some ways he had to come to grips with the fact that there was going to be pain for his loved one. They may not be aware of the full scope of that at the moment, but they likely will down the road. He wanted his loved one to realize the full impact of his actions now — not in a “you get what you deserve way” but more to deal with it now and get started on healing from the situation. But again, he was helpless to make his loved one understand that. I tried to encourage him that even if his loved one didn’t get it now and suffered some lingering pain from the circumstances, the Lord can redeem that when they do come to terms with the full scope of what happened. I hope it was encouraging. I hope it eased his mind.
I try to have the same approach with Keegan. He’s going to make mistakes that have consequences. He has to learn that cause and effect. For now, those effects are relatively minor. At some point, he’ll be facing something bigger, and I’ll be struggling with wanting to protect him from the larger, maybe more painful, consequences. I’d do anything for that kid, but there may come a time — there probably will come a time — when the best thing I can do for him is to do nothing except love him and walk beside him through the mire of whatever he’s gotten himself into. That may sound detached or cold in a way, but for me, it’s more a statement of faith that I can trust the Lord to watch over him and see him through whatever he faces.
And maybe in letting him deal with the consequences of his actions without intervening to “save” him from himself, he’ll come to understand that there is nothing that he cannot overcome and that we’ll be there for him no matter what.