Are You Caught in An Over-Helping Trap?
“It’s easy to get confused by the Messiah Trap, a two-sided lie that, on the surface, appears to be noble, godly, and gracious. After all, being a caring and helpful person is something we value,” writes Carmen Renee Berry, author of When Helping You is Hurting Me.
Berry suggests that we believe one of two lies when we get caught in this trap.
1. Messiah Trap Lie Number One: If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. Messiah Trap people are doers, helpers and genuinely nice people. We keep homes and offices running smoothly. But we can become weary and overwhelmed when we believe another person’s happiness, spirituality, health and/or success is our God-given task. Berry says, “The Messiah Trap is an odd combination of feeling grandiose yet worthless, of being needed and yet abandoned, of playing God while groveling.”
Maybe this applies to you. Maybe it doesn’t. But before you write it off, consider this:
2. Messiah Trap Lie Number Two: Everyone else’s needs should take priority over mine. Because we don’t want to be or appear selfish, we often neglect our own spiritual, emotional, medical or social needs. People depend on us for answers and unending support, which makes us feel important and worthwhile. However, when inevitable humanness breaks through our facade, we may find no one to help us. We can then feel isolated, lonely or disillusioned.
It’s a catch-22, because we dislike the imperfect sensation associated with insignificance or disappointment almost as much as we dislike losing control and not making everything just right. These less-than-perfect emotions and experiences feel so miserable that we deduce we must try harder to avoid feeling this way. Or we withdraw, pretending we never experienced the uncomfortable feelings in the first place.
Either way, it is a genuine relief once we realize that God doesn’t expect us to have all the answers in order to be a valuable and compassionate friend, spouse, parent, colleague or Christian. We can break free from the MESSIAH TRAP or the OVER-HELPING TRAP. It's okay with God if we relax and let Him take-over what isn't our job to control anyway.
“Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!” (Jude 1:1, THE MESSAGE).
I’m amazed by Jesus. His work on the cross makes me right with God, and His life example in the midst of imperfection and disappointment shows me how to live. For instance, many loved Jesus; others loathed Him.* But that didn’t stop Jesus from fulfilling His purpose in life. He seemed unsurprised by it all. Although He cared about others, their opinions didn’t alter his plans.
I’ve discovered a misbelief guaranteed to make me (and you!) miserable: In order to be happy, I must be loved and accepted by everybody--or at least most people. Obviously, this isn’t a belief that Jesus espoused. When adhering to this misconception:
Not everyone loved and agreed with Jesus; not all will love and agree with us. This isn’t surprising. But by living out our God-given dream, purposes, and convictions, we can live satisfying and significant lives, regardless of the reactions of those around us. We don’t have to be loved and appreciated by everyone to be happy, content, and blessed.
Lord, it’s a relief to know that I can be who You made me to be and do what you've asked me to do even though others may disagree with me. Please help me to be courageous and consistent, even in the face of opposition from those I care about.
What do you do when others don't agree with your ideas, dreams, plans, beliefs or convictions?
* Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him. (John 7:43-44)
11 Tips About How NOT to Do Marriage
The GOOD NEWS? You, your spouse, and your marriage don't have be perfect to be loving, fun and even wonderful. Really! Only God is perfect!
So you can relax and stop over-trying, over-helping, or over-controlling in order to make your spouse and marriage-relationship be "just right." I find this such a relief!
Which one of these 11 tips do you identify with this New Year? (I'd love to hear from you!)
* When you see an asterisk, click on the sentence to take you to a short link that gives more information about what this "tip" means.
[Joan is taking some time-off and has asked her friend and fellow-writer Kathy Collard Miller to share
an excerpt from her helpful new book about worry and trying to over-help. Comment below to put your name in the hat to win an autographed copy of PARTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED WORRIES. Drawing on 11/10/13.]
There’s something deep inside of us that believes worry can change others. If someone we love has a different perspective than we do, we worry. If someone we love has a different belief about God, we worry. If someone we love has a character flaw, we worry. We just know their wrong thinking will mess up their lives.
Some of these worries may truly seem “worthy” of worry. Your mother may not know Christ as her Savior, and she has cancer. Your son may be on the street taking drugs. Your friend may demonstrate a lack of integrity at work. Another friend drives while intoxicated. You may have tried to reason, cajole, quote Scripture, even manipulate each person into changing their ideas and their behavior, but nothing has worked—not even prayer. God hasn’t changed them either. You fear something bad, really bad, is going to happen.
Even if it’s not a matter of something really bad occurring, we can easily take responsibility for someone else’s happiness and then try to change them.
A verse that has helped me in releasing that worry is: “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:15 NASB). If God has the ability to give you and me a different attitude, He can do it for anyone. He is powerful and creative. When we worry or feel like we have to change someone’s ideas, we are saying, “God, you aren’t effective enough. You aren’t creative enough to work in this person’s life. I’ve got to do it myself.”
When I think of how God creatively worked in our daughter Darcy’s life, I sense the tears coming. Darcy went to Denmark for a semester of college and requested to live in the home of a Danish family. At that time, Darcy was friendly with us, but distant emotionally.
But while in Denmark, our phone calls soon were centered on how badly her Danish “mother” was treating her— ignoring her and saying mean things to her. Larry and I were incensed, as most parents would be, and I began to worry about my daughter’s emotional health. Then my worry fueled anger toward this woman who had no right to treat my daughter like that. We suggested Darcy move to on-campus housing, but she wanted to stick it out. Since we couldn’t afford to go visit her (I would have loved to give that woman a piece of my mind), I had to stew over it … in the beginning.
Then I saw God’s work in Darcy’s life. Because of her circumstances, she began to appreciate our family as she never had before. In comparison to the way her Danish family treated her, we were looking pretty good. In fact, fabulous. I’d never heard as much love and warmth in Darcy’s voice as when we talked with her.
Shortly before she returned home, she sent a Christmas card and wrote in it:
Dear Dad, Mom, and Mark: Since I can’t be there with you for Christmas, I’m writing to tell you how much I’ll miss not being there and how much I love you all. Being away has really made me realize how awesome a family you are. I love and appreciate all of you so much! I can’t wait to come home to see you all. Give my love to the rest of the family. I’ll be seeing you on January 6. Love, Darcy.
That was in 1994. After Darcy returned, her appreciation for our family continued to rise to great heights, and it all started with something I was worried about. It’s every mother’s longing to have her child value their family. But in our case, God accomplished this through mistreatment, something I would have changed if I could. But if I had, the good results God intended would not have occurred. Even today, when we talk about that situation, Darcy remarks, “Oh, yes, God really used that in my life.”
We don’t want to thwart God’s changes in those we love, do we? We need to make sure worry doesn’t prevent His work. Let’s live like we believe Philippians 3:15: God can change others.
NOTE FROM JOAN: Kathy and I seem to think alike in many areas and even write about similar topics. I love the above story and so appreciate the message. We can't change/fix others through over-helping or over-worrying. Only God can change hearts! This book is worth reading. Maybe you can WIN it. Just COMMENT here on this blog and my assistant Karen will put your name in the hat and then draw the winning name. She'll let you know who won while I'm on vacation.
It is possible to worry less through trusting God more. Regardless of the storms of trials, temptations, worry, uncertainty, confusion, or regrets that you're facing, you can trust God more. Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries offers a conversational style, personal testimonies, practical illustrations, and solid biblical teaching for breaking anxiety and the devastating effects of worry. Each chapter includes Discussion Questions for individuals or groups, along with a “Letter from God.” In addition, a profile of a woman in the Bible who struggled with or experienced victory over worry is featured in each chapter to inspire every reader to see God's hand in her life.
Kathy Collard Miller is a speaker and author. Her passion is to inspire women to trust God more. She has spoken in 30 states and 7 foreign countries. Kathy has 49 published books including Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible (Thomas Nelson) and she blogs at www.KathyCollardMiller.blogspot.com. Kathy lives in Southern California with her husband of 43 years, Larry, and is the proud grandma of Raphael. Kathy and Larry often speak together at marriage events and retreats.
You really love this, don’t you? You’re so animated when you’re busy working. Although my client meant this as a compliment, I gagged when I heard her words. To me, they represented a lifestyle I’d tried to ditch. Anything that reminded me of my excessive behavior felt like a punch in the gut. I get a high when rushing, working and finding solutions.
I am an adrenaline junkie. What do I mean?
What helps you become friends with tranquility again?
Yesterday was "Fight Procrastination Day" and I procrastinated in posting this blog to my site. Does that mean I put the "PRO" in procrastination?
The dictionary indicates that to procrastinate means to defer action, to delay until an opportunity is lost. Dr. Ellis, a counselor who specializes in the issue of procrastination, defines procrastination as deciding to do something and then not doing it.
Now, I want to clarify something. Delay and procrastination are not the same thing. There may be a legitimate reason for a delay. Procrastination is "to delay until it is too late."
For example, say you received the brochure for a conference related to your field of interest. You read it, the workshops looked beneficial to you and you made the decision to go. But then you set the info aside and put off following through by calling to ask your questions, checking your calendar and registering...until it was too late. Then the day of the conference arrived and the opportunity was gone. You missed it.
If this is your modus operandi and you really want to do it differently, there is hope. You can change.
And here are 10 practical tips for ceasing to put the "PRO" in procrastination. (Not in order of importance)
Which tip will you try this week?
It's the weekend! Maybe this means you're taking a break from work. Maybe not.
In my experience as a life coach, speaker/teacher/trainer, and mentor, I've noticed that many people struggle with issues related to work and service. It matters not if they're an executive, nurse, homeschooler, ministry volunteer or a young parent. Even medical exerts agree that there's an "action-addiction" epidemic.
In her book Working Ourselves to Death, author Diane Fassel maintains that though action-addicts (another name for workaholics) work, serve, or rush a great deal, they aren't always working.
Yet, even Jesus--who came to earth to do the most important work of all--said "no" sometimes. (Check out Luke 8:26-38 & Mark 5:18-20)
The truth is: Your work & service (whether it's in the office, in the home, on the field or at church) don't have to be relentless or perfect to be significant, meaningful and productive. :-)
I find that such a relief. What about you?
What kind of a worker are you?
"When you burn both ends of a candle, it may produce twice as much light, but the candle burns out twice as fast,” writes Myron Rush in his book, Burnout. “People experiencing burnout suddenly discover that all of their mental, emotional and physical energies have been consumed." This was true for me. I managed my family of two teenagers and developed my company into a million dollar endeavor, yet felt like a walking dead person.
"I've fried my brain,” I said. “I'll never be the same." Yet I’m a grateful burnout survivor—along with others who have learned to stop burning the candle at both ends. How’d we do it?
This post is #4 in a four week blog series on BURNOUT.
I'm curious: Do you think that BURNOUT really happens? And who do you think tends to be susceptible?
(This blog series is adapted from a series of short online articles that I wrote for Genius Ave.)
Maybe It's Compassion Fatigue
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.