“The consciousness of one’s eternal responsibility to be an individual
is the one thing needful.”
In my last post, we covered the basics of what Kierkegaard meant, at least as far as the Lord has shown me. To allow – or demand – another person to do the work of finding out God’s will for me is complete irresponsibility. It’s my work to do, and I will be held accountable for it. But there’s another way that irresponsibility plays out: when I do work that isn’t my own.
My mother’s children were angry with me;
they made me the keeper of the vineyards;
but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Song of Solomon 1:6b KJV
I have found this an especially potent temptation in my life, but the more my sins – self-pity, sense of obligation, and desire to fix things in particular – are brought to the Light through repentance, the fewer wormholes remain open to the enemy. I’ve learned that when I shoulder something that isn’t mine to carry, all hell breaks loose in my life. And though it may take some time to sort out, I WILL break under a load that isn’t mine—and that’s the surest sign of God’s mercy and faithfulness.
It’s been difficult for me to see what it means practically, to take on someone else’s responsibility. It’s not like I was breaking into people’s houses and vacuuming their floors or washing their dishes. I discovered that the truth is infinitely more diabolical. “We wrestle not with flesh and blood” after all, and I ever underestimate the machinations of the enemy. Guilt, pity, expectation, screaming need—all of these play a part in shouldering a load I was never meant to carry.
My super-sin is assuming the role of “fixer.” It’s a gangrenous, blasphemous sin because, at its root, I’m playing God. By necessity, a fixer wears many hats.
- Is something bothering you? Let me listen.
- Are you angry? Let me placate.
- Is there tension in the room? Let me lighten the mood.
- Are you sad? Let me be a shoulder to cry on.
- Is there an uncomfortable silence? Let me tell a joke.
The actual list would break our bandwidth, but I think you get the gist with this. And maybe some of you are thinking that most of these things fall under normal human interaction. That’s true! But as a born-again believer, I am not a “normal” human any more; I’m a new creation. If the Holy Spirit initiates any of these responses, then there’s no problem. But what if He doesn’t?
In one of the kindest corrections I’ve ever received, Martha told me that I didn’t wait for the Holy Spirit to comfort me – I comforted myself as I saw fit. We have all been guilty of this, to be sure, but I’ve seen that this self-comfort has been a big door to the enemy in my life.
When I don’t wait on God in my own life, I am equally likely to move ahead of Him when it comes to dealing with other people. For instance, a friend comes to me distraught over all the places where her life is a wreck. She’s crying and undone and says she just needs someone to listen to her. So I listen. And I find that the more she tells me, the worse I feel. I’m beginning to feel as if her problems are actually mine! When she’s done, she feels SO much better. And me? I’m in despair and exhausted. What happened?
She transferred the load of her life onto me—because I took it. I didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit – I listened to her! And now I’m accountable not only for carrying someone else’s responsibility, but also for shutting down whatever the Spirit may have wanted to say or do in that situation. I get it coming and going, and this friend carries on, unchecked by Love, in complete irresponsibility. Gah!
To be clear, I have also been the one chucking burdens onto unsuspecting victims. I am quite familiar with both sides of this coin! The point is that my eternal responsibility to become an individual covers more ground than I ever knew. It’s not just about being manipulated into throwing a brunch when I have other things to do, or guilting a friend into going to the movies with me when they don’t want to go. No, it’s about loving someone IN the reality of their life, without trying to change it. It’s about receiving my own life, gratefully, as it is. And in this eternal responsibility, I get to know the Love of my life, and more so every day, as He loves me into the unique “me” He dreamed.