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Loving or Carrying

What do you do when loving the people in your life becomes unmanageable?  We’ve all experienced it to some degree. There comes a point when loving well becomes overwhelming. It’s not that you don’t want to care, it’s not that you aren’t trying to do all you can. It’s simply the reality that in doing all you can, you’re driving yourself into the ground.

I recently had this conversation with a friend who had two very needy people in her life. It wasn’t that they were annoyingly needy. They had real needs — health needs — and the time it took to help them with those needs was beginning to become unmanageable. My friend wanted desperately to care for them and felt responsible as one was her dad. She came to me frustrated and exhausted.

What do you do when loving seems impossible and you’re at the end of yourself?

  1. Acknowledge your limitations

One of the realities of life that we hate to face is the fact that we are limited. God has been trying to help us acknowledge this from the beginning. It’s a huge part of how He interacts with the nation of Israel. He builds in things like “Sabbath” to make sure we remember we’re limited. It’s interesting because we often think God expects us to overcome our limits when all along He’s been asking us to accept our limits. You have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t be everything to everyone.

  1. Commit to love and care, not carry

God calls us to love and care for the people around us. He doesn’t call us to carry the weight and responsibility of their situation. Loving and caring creates joy and fulfillment, carrying someone creates frustration and bitterness. God doesn’t ask you to save them. You can’t do that. When you try, it destroys you.

You can care for someone, but you can’t heal them.

You can give good advice, but you can’t force them to take it.

You can help, but you can’t do it all.

You have to give the weight of the situation to God, not carry it yourself.

Ask yourself whether you’re loving this person or trying to carry them. It’s crucial for the next step.

  1. Engage God in the question of when and where

When you decide to love and care instead of carry you can begin to listen to God, who is in control, about where and when you should help. If His answer never involves rest, you’re not listening to Him. Biblically it always includes rest.

There are going to be times when you will have to say no. If you’re carrying the situation, it’s going to result in guilt. If you’re trusting God to carry it and asking Him when and where you can say no, you can live without guilt knowing that you’re still following God in loving and caring. Don’t decide strategically, decide based on obeying what you believe He’s leading you to do.

  1. Ask for help

Sometimes there is no one to help, but often I’ve found that there are people who can help, we just don’t ask because we’re carrying it ourselves. Sometimes we’ve developed pride in the fact that we’re carrying it and we judge others who aren’t. We feel good even though it’s destroying us. We don’t want to give that up. Let go of it. Ask for help. They may say no, but don’t say no for them. Don’t rob others of the chance to love and care as well.

  1. Love through rest

The most loving thing you can do for the people and the world around you is to have a healthy pattern of rest. I’m not talking about being lazy. I’m talking about resting. I’m not talking about increasing your TV time, I’m talking about rest. In order to love well you need to rest. What really refreshes you? Are you taking time weekly to refresh your soul and yourself? Protect your time with God and your time of rest. You need it to love and care well.

God has called us to love and care for those around us as we care for ourselves.  If you only care for yourself, you miss it. If you don’t take care of yourself, you miss it. Care and love, you weren’t created to carry.

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