Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Over-Responsibility Issues


One of the blessings of a chronic illness is that it makes us face the deadwood of our lives. We only have so much energy, so much time, so much strength that we really can't do it all. We can't please all people, meet all needs, respond to all invitations and events and experience things the way we want to. We must accept that we are not responsible for everything and everyone. But, I'd like to be.

My motives are mixed between a compassionate desire to help others and a desire to do something significant and important probably mixed in with a desire to be a hero. I can't deny it . . . I know my motives are mixed.

For example, a few years ago I was unloading groceries and saw the abundance of food I was about to put into the fridge. I realized how fortunate we were. Then my thoughts trailed to the mission downtown that helps feed the hungry. I then progressed to a sense of importance that we, as a family, go there and help serve food. "It would be good for our kids" I thought. About twenty minutes later, I didn't feel very well and needed to lay down. By the time our kids got home, I was flat-out in my bed and pain was quite high. I heard them making their own dinner, doing homework and laughing with their dad. They stopped in to say hello but left me to rest.

Later in the evening, when pain settled down, I joined my them in the living room and one of my sons said, "Oh mom, our class is collecting food for the food bank tomorrow. Can I take a bunch of stuff?"

Here is the interesting part. I should have been thrilled that the hungry were receiving food, but I could feel that part in me that wanted to be the one to deliver the food. I wanted to be on the front lines, face the people, be in the experience and sense the satisfaction of helping others. I told my son, "yes, take as much as you like" and I realized, again, that not everything is my responsibility. Good things happen aside from my ideas, initiative and involvement.  I felt relieved and a little humbled.

Jesus said,

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant." John 15 The Message

If you are restrained somewhat in your life, because of physical illness or limitations, or strength, or stage of life, remember that you are exactly where you need to be. There are important and significant things that you can do within your limitations that are a perfect fit for what God wants to accomplish in and through your life. It may mean obscurity and behind the scenes work, it may mean that others are praised more publicly, but it also means that the nourishment that God wants to give you, right where you are, will be enough to produce great fruit in your life, that will nourish others and keep you (and me) humbled and trimmed of deadwood. Let's be open to what God wants to do in our lives.