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Friday, September 14, 2012

Enabled or Enabling?

I often think some people want to walk a different road than they are traveling.  Their way is complicated with all kinds of relationship issues, the path is riddled with things which have spun out of control, and the way is just plain hard.  When I look upon these individuals, my heart breaks.  Their choices have resulted in more hardship and "heart-hurt" than anyone would want to face.  Yet, they often refuse the very advice they need to get them out of the place they are in!  

In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble.  (I Peter 5:5 CEB)

If you have ever encountered an individual like the one I pictured above, then you probably have tried to give them some "good advice".  It may have been immediately dismissed as "You don't know what I am dealing with here", or perhaps it was "taken" but there was never any follow-through which amounted to permanent change.  We might see this, for example, in the behavior (actions) of someone who is given to being an "enabler" of another's bad behavior.  Why do some refuse to heed the advice of the "wise"?  For some it is a matter of pride.  For others it is a matter of living with misconceptions such as having been told they'd never amount to anything anyway.  Regardless of the reason, the "misery" of the miles walking the path before them continues.

When pride keeps us from heeding solid advice (wise counsel), we often find ourselves re-creating the same issues over and over again - just with different scenarios and maybe even some different "players".  Pride has a way of keeping us from embracing the very truth we so desperately need.  Some think humility is an admission of weakness - of an inability to keep it all together, or do it on their own.  In fact, humility requires strength far beyond whatever it takes to stand in pride.  To be truly vulnerable, transparent with our feelings and our failures, is definitely not a thing which the proud gravitate toward.  In fact, they guard against such disclosure!

Humble people have the potential to become wise people.  Truth is often the very thing we need to crawl out of the rut we have dug for ourselves.  When pride is in the way, we just keep seeing the walls of the rut as a hurdle we must overcome.  The problem in seeing the walls from this vantage point is that we spend a whole lot of time "pacing" in the rut trying to figure out how to get out of it!  In all this "pacing", we wear the rut even deeper!  Now the walls are even more challenging to scale!

Humble people look up!  They see the walls - but they are not content to remain in their confines any longer.  They are willing to listen to the advice of the ones who have been lifted out of a few ruts themselves!  When someone offers to walk them through breaking free of the rut, they might struggle a little with such step-by-step instruction, but they push past their pride to get free of the walls which enclose them in their misery.  As they hear the instruction as to where to find a foothold, then the next one, and so on, they take the steps in the order they are instructed.  In turn, they find themselves leaving the rut behind and breaking out into the light of God's grace.

God's favor is his grace - unmerited, undeserved.  Our passage reminds us of God's opposing the proud - those who stand strong in their own ability - demanding to find their own way.  It also reminds us of the freedom which comes to the one who is willing to lay down his pride - choosing instead to walk in the humility which opens one to learning from those God has placed in their lives.  Peter reminded the believers to maintain this posture - one of being both willing to hear the advice (counsel) of those who God places in our lives AND to be open to spurring another on when we finally find ourselves free of the behavior which had us so emotionally, spiritually, or physically bound.  

Guess what?  To embrace truth, we must be open to truth.  To be open to truth, we must be willing to shed some of the defenses which we have erected in our pride.  This often means we "suffer through" the transparency of being "real" with another.  In so doing, we are choosing to no longer "enable" our own bad behavior, much less that of another.  It is in us choosing humility (the laying down of our own stubborn strength), in really laying down our masks of prideful concealment, that we break free.

Not sure if you are being "enabled" or are the "enabler" today.  I imagine we all have been both at some point!  Regardless of our present "role" - let us be willing to shed our masks of pride - opening up to the possibilities of finally living free of the limitations of our pride!  In humbling ourselves, we will find ourselves exalted - right into the arms of God's grace!  Just sayin...