Monday, April 25, 2011

Other People's Power

Have you ever wanted something good for someone so badly that you ended up pushing your wants onto them 'for their own good' but despite their displeasure? It starts out innocently enough - a bit more experience, a (perceived) deeper understanding maybe.  But, it ends in someone's power being stolen.  The power to choose, the power of self is something that shouldn't be given up so easily, but sometimes we are like vultures walking around looking for someone we can make decisions for.  I say we and, of course, I mean me just as much as anyone.  This kind of thing comes very naturally to the oldest child in a family.  It's a fine line between truly helping mom and dad and trying to replace mom and dad.  "Mom!! Johnny's climbing on the cabinets and about to fall!" suddenly becomes "Oh you don't want to pursue that career/date that person/buy that sweater/eat that kind of food!"  You know what I mean.  You start to feel like you should just leave all of your life decisions over to them because they ALWAYS know better anyway, right?

How often do you hand out unsolicited advice? How often are you trying to sculpt and mold what other people think?  When you live in a very evangelical and politically persuasive society, its common to feel very strongly about certain issues.  That's healthy and right, in my opinion.  The trouble we start is when our passion and conviction begins to overpower someone else's self-respect and choice.  Sometimes it feels like everyone would just be SO much better off if they would just listen to me! But, not only did God grant us all with free-will, but we live in a free society.  So, you and I are not the king of everything. :)  Most would agree that none of us should sign up for, agree to, have faith in or do anything that we don't fully understand and are certain about.  Why then do we try to herd people over to our way of thinking, just because we've decided its best.

Of course, I can think of a few situations that warrant a 'do now and I'll explain later' type of interaction - dangers of all kinds basically.  But usually that's not the case with what I'm talking about.  For a long time I would allow myself to become consumed with other people making 'bad' choices with their lives and want to 'fix' them.  I am still convinced that my opinion is best - it wouldn't be my opinion if it wasn't! But, I'm trying to learn that it isn't my job to decide for others.  This week, pay attention to how you interact with other people's power.  Do you respect and honor it?  Just remember that those choices made of one's own volition and full of the individual's conviction are likely to stand much stronger than those made out of guilt or manipulation.

I'm thinking about Jude and all the things I want for him, but ultimately all these things are barely worth half as much if they are just ideas that I push onto him instead of sharing with him and allowing him to choose and grow.  
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