Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weary of Rescuing?

Fixing   .   Enabling   .   Controlling   

'We rescue anytime we take responsibility for another human being - for that person's thoughts, feelings, decisions, behaviors, growth, well-being, problems, or destiny.  We rescue people from their responsibilities ... Later we get mad at them for what we've done.   Then we feel used and sorry for ourselves.  That is the pattern, the triangle.'
- Beattie -

This rather lopsided dance often emerges under the guise of being a 'good' Christian, serving others 'wholeheartedly,' or being a people helper {professional or otherwise}.  In our efforts to be of assistance, the end result becomes exactly the opposite of what we set out to do.  Slowly but surely, our intent boomerangs back right at us as we render people powerless.  Make them more dependent on us.   Encourage them to sit back and wait to be rescued/fixed/assisted.  They end up enjoying the ride while we shoulder the load.

We seethe.  We feel victimized.  We become martyrs.      

The Apostle Paul speaks to this in Galatians 6:2-5.  In verse 2, the word for 'burdens' means a heavy load, like a big old unwieldy trunk.   Yes, we are called to bear each others' burdens during times of crisis, when brothers and sisters come together to hoist us up, lend a hand, get us over the bump in the road.

In verse 5, the word 'load' connotes a knapsack or a backpack.  Something that's manageable.  When it comes to the daily grind, we are to be responsible for dealing with our own stuff.

Beattie presents a few rescuing scenarios for us to consider ... I've added my 2 cents in italics:

=  Doing something we really don't want to do.
If we can't lend a hand with joy, we might want to rethink our motives.  We're called to give what we've decided in our hearts to give, and to do it 'not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver' {2 Corinthians 9:7}.

=  Doing something for someone although that person is capable of and should be doing it for himself.
We do no special favors in enabling someone to sit around and be waited on hand and foot.  Doing so removes the sense of responsibility for caring for ourselves that is healthy, and hugely limits the development of any motivation to aim toward achievement and success.

=  Doing more than a fair share of work after our help is requested.
After Jesus touched someone's life, He sent them on their way with tasks to complete or changes to enact.  His work was done.  The one blessed to have His assistance was released to move ahead and take responsibility for their future choices.

=  Doing people's thinking for them.
God has given us each the power to use our brains, unless there is some mental disability present.  Don't presume to steal that right, that obligation, and that freedom from someone else.

So if you're taken on the mantle of the martyr, or you're filled with resentment or bitterness or a feeling of uneasiness toward another, you might want to see if you have morphed into a rescuer.  And decide where you want to go from there ...

'Cause in the end, who needs the crazy-making frustrations of futile, never ending attempts at people-pleasing?  It's just gotta be about making it 'our goal to please Him' {2 Corinthians 5:9}.   

- life saver by Thom Watson -


  1. What an interesting, helpful post. I particularly liked the scripture tie-ins you included. I can foresee coming back to read it again and again.

  2. For sure ... these are areas that most of us need to revisit from time to time.

    Always fun to see your name pop up, Elizabeth!

  3. There's lots of helpful clarification here, Linda, about a very hard to grasp subject. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I love how Scripture speaks right to where we are as we move through recovery into health and wholeness!

    I appreciate the thoughts from another counselor, Beth!

  5. This is a great reminder, I am sometimes guilty of trying to rescue people from things they need to do themselves. Great post, thanks! :)

  6. It can be so wearying to be rescuing, fixing, controlling, manipulating ... UGHHH!

    Let's be free of the whole codependent trap!

    Welcome, Kristina!

  7. Great insight!

    I read you on my google reader :-) Thanks again for that helpful post. I am elated!


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