Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Sell the Thing


You've heard of "helicopter parenting"?  I think the expression works for much more . . .

I've never been in a helicopter but my husband has so I asked him to describe it for me. He said timing is essential. It's expensive to run so once it is loaded up it takes off quickly to its destination and then lands again. Sometimes it doesn't even shut off the blades so you have to duck and grab your stuff and move fast so it can take off again. So, ideally, in a rescue situation, if a chopper is called in, then you can be assured that help is coming quickly.

In relationships, we often think we own a helicopter and it is our responsibility to rescue. But rescue missions are called only when the person doesn't have the capability to take care of themselves. They are stranded on a mountain and need only what a helicopter can offer them. If we see other people's struggles  as 'rescue missions', then we are thinking too highly of ourselves and too little of them. 

* Disclaimer: There are times when immediate action and intervention is VERY necessary. That's not what this blog is about.  I'm thinking more about the fully functioning adult who is going through something difficult and says that they are okay  . . . but we can't let it go. We brainstorm, wonder, worry and chew on past conversations to see if we have done enough, if there is anything else we can do. We research, gather intel, check social media, look for clues  . . . THAT'S  the sound of the helicopter . . . 

So I've been wondering how to stop the "rescue reaction" when someone shares a struggle with me. I don't actually jump into the metaphorical helicopter anymore. I've learned to stay on the ground, be present, and let someone talk. I'm learning to sit with them in the struggle, if possible, and be patient as they express their pain. It's a holy moment of trust and I want to honor it. I'm learning to listen for the voice of God in those moments and  how He wants me to respond, taking my best guess as to what that is. 

But for me, it's later, when things are quiet and I'm folding laundry or doing dishes that I start to consider the helicopter.  It's the mind wandering, brainstorming "what else can I do?" thought-trail that left unchecked, will lead me to go get my keys.  This week, I came to a conclusion: sell the thing! If there is no helicopter, then there is nothing for me to do in those quiet moments. Instead, I can pray. I can lift their name up to the Lord, who has a better view on the whole thing anyway and I can ask Him to take care of the details,  give people courage to ask for what they need and discernment for me to know whether their needs match what I can give. There are professionals who can give way better help and resources than I can. There are other people whom God will use in that person's life to bring comfort and encouragement and there is the difficult reality that sometimes God doesn't rescue. He let's us sit in our pain for awhile, for a reason, that we may never understand. But if we are always rescuing . . . we'll get in the way of what God might be up to. 

So here's the freedom part: If we sell the helicopter, plant some flowers and put a bench where it used to leave from. If we learn to sit on that bench, in those moments and rest in the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, all-good nature of God, when there is an action for us to take, we will be ready. We will be rested and calm with a sense that God himself is in control. Our minds will be clear, we will be able to focus and whatever it is that God asks us to do, will be the right fit. 

Imagine being that kind of parent . . . Imagine being that kind of friend . . . 

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:34   (or read the whole chapter here - it's so good!)

Have a great September!