Helpless Helpers

The_Wounded_Healer_5_uj1bhoWhen I give my testimony, I sometimes talk to people afterwards.  The number one question I’m asked is this: How do I help my loved one give up an addiction?

Every fibre of me wants to say, “here; here’s the answer.  Here’s what helps me; here’s what will help you.”

But I can’t.  Because I don’t have one.

For one thing, I’m far from the finished product.  I speak out of weakness, not as someone with answers, but someone who’s taking her questions to God.

But more than this, there is no answer.  No fix; at least, not in human terms.  Sure, I can give practical advice and I can share my experience.  These things are helpful – but, in themselves they’re not enough.

Not enough to make an anorexic eat.

Not enough to make a self-harmer stop.

Not enough to stop someone suicidal from taking their life.

Not enough to change the heart of whoever is struggling and therefore, not enough to change their struggle.

I’m not enough – and neither are you.   Because we can’t climb inside another person’s head and heart.  We can’t even change our own.

It’s an obvious point.  And yet – when someone comes to you, and asks you for help, don’t you try to solve their problems?  Don’t you try to fix them?

“I can’t stop watching pornography.” What do we say?

“Talk to me about why you’re hurting? What does it give you that you don’t have? What are you trying to escape?  What else is happening in your life?”

No, we rarely go there. Instead we stick to the practical…

“Have you tried using internet filters?”

“Are you in an accountability group?”

“Here are some useful verses.”

That’s what we say; and there’s a place for it.  But instead of opening up conversation, our words shut it down.  Instead of inviting reflection or being curious, we silence the other person.  Instead of pointing them to Jesus, we offer a fix. Instead of walking with them in their struggles, we talk down to them, or flee.

What would it be like to see beyond the struggle?  The OCD.  The depression.  The bulimia.  The anxiety.  What would it be like to get alongside the person and let them tell their story? To listen, without fixing?  To share their pain, without running?

I don’t have the answer.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope.  We’re all broken and before we take others to the doctor, we go to Him ourselves.  As we do, we’re reminded of our weakness and His strength.  And this is what those who are struggling need most. Not us, Him. Not just new behaviour, but a new heart.  Not just a reminder of why they have to change. A friend with a vision for this change.  Not a Saviour who will fix their problems; a Saviour for all of life.

God works at the point where it’s too much for us. This is real hope.


Image source: The Wounded Healer by Marija Gauci


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