I used to have a “savior mentality” when it came to helping other people. Call it codependency; call it what you like. But it became overwhelming and incapacitating. I completely emptied my tank helping other people and I got to the place where even simple text requests for prayer would almost send me over the edge. Everywhere I looked, people seemed to be looking to me to fulfill their needs. I felt like a cow with fifty teats and an empty tank. My body and soul began to break down from all the performance anxiety I felt—ESPECIALLY with the spiritual stuff. If I didn’t help every person that made spiritual requests of me, I’d feel horrible and worry about how their situation would end up. I ended up feeling like a spiritual puppet. I had no boundaries when it came to the God stuff.
The demand on my time was so intense, I was headed straight for burnout and emotional shutdown. I neglected my own spiritual needs. I was on empty, yet I still answered texts and various requests. God had to intervene to cut me free from these spiritual puppet strings—this issue had become a stronghold in my life and I just couldn’t see it.
Strongholds are blind spots in our spiritual lives. They are areas of our lives where we are operating out of false mindsets or lies. My root issue in this stronghold wasn’t one of pride or legitimacy—I didn’t help others because I thought I was THAT amazing or because it defined my identity. My root issue was one of false responsibility. I was picking up other people and burdens that I was never meant to carry—and all in the name of God. I learned false responsibility in my own family system from the time I was very young, so I didn’t even notice when it transferred over to my spiritual life.
Where was MY freedom in all of this? I had mistaken my role for God’s. I had not understood the verse that tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And because I was the first believer in my family of origin, no one had ever taught me how to DAILY walk free throughout the nuances of my spiritual life. I had to discover through trial and error what brought freedom and life and what brought oppression and death. The more time that I spent in God’s presence, the more I was able to recognize when something didn’t have God’s stamp on it. My discernment grew. I started to recognize the difference between God’s gentle leading and the enemy’s incessant driving. I discovered that it is the enemy that is the cruel taskmaster. He loves it when we don’t take time for ourselves to refuel. He loves milking us completely dry. But that’s not God’s way. Even when God leads us to help a certain person, there is grace that coats the way. If we feel overwhelmed or full of dread, it’s a sign to check in with God; “Father, is this an assignment from you or am I taking on something that I am just NOT meant to carry?” God leads us by His peace in all things. And God’s heart is never to throw us into an arena with a bunch of needy people and say, “Okay, now let them suck you dry.” His heart is always to protect us and to be life-giving to each person involved: receiver AND giver.
So when we feel that sense of chaos in a demanding moment, it’s great to take a few minutes to assess the status of our heart. Are we trying to do too much? Is the task from God but the timing is just off? Maybe we need to take an hour to downshift and rest, and then we will have what we need to answer that phone call or request. Or maybe the request doesn’t lie within the boundaries of our jurisdiction. We don’t have the ability or grace to meet that particular need. I’ve encountered these times when I’ve had to tell someone, “I don’t know the answer to that. Have you considered talking to a counselor or a pastor?”
Knowing our limits and personal boundaries is important. Even Jesus had boundaries. Jesus walked towards certain ministry situations but away from others. He was very familiar with the needy, and He is our ultimate example in how to lead a spiritually balanced life. He navigated all those nuances and we can learn from Him. Jesus also modeled how important it is to take time alone in the Father’s presence to regroup and be filled up before we pour out onto others. As for myself, I came to realize that operating out of a place of lack when it came to helping others was a recipe for self-destruction. So I became better at waiting to help people until I’d had my own spiritual regrouping and soul-care time. And sometimes, I just had to tell the person that I didn’t have time to chat that day but that I would pray for them. I became better at navigating the balance of spiritual and natural tasks. More to come tomorrow…..
From Glory to Glory,