Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:8-10
I have heard it said before that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Whoever it was that said that was pretty wise in my opinion. I see this played out in numerous lives throughout each week of counseling women.
It truly puzzles me as to what leads a person to continue to go down the same destructive paths time after time… Take “Jane,” a single mom with grown children. Jane’s children are irresponsible and emotionally needy. They get themselves in financial and legal trouble over and over. Jane thinks she is to rescue them each time she is called in the middle of the night or the middle of her workday. She has bailed them out of jail, paid the rent and the car payments for them, and bought them food and cigarettes when they could not do for themselves.
She is frustrated that her kids never grow up and complains about how much time and money she has to lay out for them! Yet every time the phone rings Jane is off to fix what the children have messed up.
Jane is what psychology would call a “rescuer” or a “co-dependent” personality. She thinks that her children need her intervention in their lives and she further believes that without her “helping” them that their worlds would fall apart.
Biblically, Jane is what we would call an idolater. She worships her children and cannot bear the thought that they will suffer in any way. She has stood between them and some important life-lessons they should have learned many years ago! As a result, these adult children have come to rely on her in ways that are inappropriate. They have no reason to seek out God for anything, because Mom is always ready to rescue them from any and every calamity.
Susan is a poor decision maker. She has mountains of debt and a bankruptcy to show for it. She also has numerous failed relationships, several of which were very abusive. Susan uses her faith as her reason to rescue people who invariably lead her into further problems and financial ruin. Despite good and solid counsel, Susan continues to repeat the same patterns of life that keep her essentially trapped in the cycle of self-destruction.
When she is confronted about her self-destructive actions Susan uses the Bible to support her actions and staunchly maintains that God has told her to do these things.
Like Jane, Susan is self-deceived in her thinking and self-righteous in her actions. Despite experiencing the negative consequences of repeated rescuing both these women continue to operate from the perspective that they are honoring God and doing what is right by their actions.
Both these women are rescuers who are in need of rescuing. You see it and others see it, but sadly they don’t see it. Any attempts on your part to shine the light of rational and biblical thinking on them is met with anger and defensiveness. It is very difficult to watch a person continue to self-destruct in this way but in reality there is nothing you can do other than speak truth to them when you have the opportunity to do so.
Pray for the Lord to soften her heart and to help her to be receptive to what she needs to hear. Refuse to be discouraged at her rebuffs when you speak truth to her; remember that God is a sovereign God and none of what happens in her life (or yours) is a surprise to Him.
Be a faithful friend to her, continue to pray for her and be a touch stone of truth for her, she needs you more than she may know!
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