Sometimes God can speak very loudly to us about certain lessons in life. The key is how we choose to listen, and what we do with those lessons.
This last week has been a parade of disappointments as multiple people in my life have made bad decisions despite the help and advice offered by others. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone you love go down a path you know is the wrong one. There’s a sense of helplessness as you try desperately to reach them, but to no avail.
Unfortunately, this feeling is not unfamiliar to me at all. I’ve watched people I love dearly, my father in particularly, continue to make self-destructive choices. I’ve struggled with the pain of watching him from the very early years of my youth. It used to break my heart into a million pieces each time I spoke to him, knowing the help I was offering was not being received.
I feel it important to share a piece of his story that I don’t often. For the past six years, my father has been homeless. The worst part of his situation is that it’s 100% by choice. He still has a job. He makes enough money to support himself, but doesn’t. This has been one of our family’s biggest challenges, and continues to test us all.
I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my father, and the pain I’ve experienced from his situation. What’s interesting, is seeing the same lessons resurface in multiple ways, with multiple people throughout my life. This last week in particular. I’ve seen a lot of people hurting, and I’ve shared a lot of that pain. So, today, I want to share some of the insights I’ve used my whole life when it comes to the pain in other people’s decisions.
This particular pain and how it can rear it’s ugly head in both the people we influence as well as those that influence us.
In Those We Influence
We all have influence on others. Sometimes, it’s in a formal role in our careers as a leader or supervisor, within the family as a parent or elder, or even as a friend. Our actions and words impact others. I often speak about the importance of using that influence in the right way, knowing how powerful it is. But sometimes, it falls on deaf ears. No matter how much you love someone, they may not be ready to hear what you say.
How do you deal with that helplessness? It’s not easy, it still hurts, but I’ve found comfort in the following ways:
1. Live Your Own Advice
We’ve all learned how much louder our actions speak than our words. The people we influence are watching us much more than they listen to us. By living what we advise, we reach people through both.
2. Love Them Genuinely and Fully
Sometimes this is all we can do. To love another is often the most powerful way to help them. Even when our advice and offers for help aren’t accepted, never stop loving. Love more. I’ve learned the best way to build our own spiritual strength is to love.
That doesn’t mean you give and give and give until you have nothing left to give. It means you offer your support and advice when you can, and when you can’t, you find other ways to love them.
In Those That Influence Us
The people that influence us such as our own parents, supervisors, and friends can make bad decisions that may impact us significantly. The pain from their poor decisions is difficult because we hurt from someone else’s mistakes. It often catches us off guard, leaving us feeling betrayed and confused.
How do you move past this?
1. Seek the Lesson
There always is one. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and others it takes a while to surface. If we embrace that it’s there, it helps us to understand. I’ve learned so much from others’ mistakes. While it hurt me; I learned things to avoid, decisions not to make, and how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bad decision.
Become very intentional in taking those lessons learned and applying them to your own life. Learn to make it count. Condition your mind to think: If I had to go through this, I better take something from it.
2. Focus on Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not easy by any means. It took me many of my adult years to come to a place where I could forgive my father. When I did, I felt a huge weight lifted from my heart.
We must learn to forgive and free that space in our hearts that our anger, sadness, and pain lived and replace it with what brings us value.
We all have trials and tribulations we must face. We will take many different roles in the lives of others as they face their own. As we all come through those difficult times, we must remember the power of love and forgiveness.
Where do you draw your strength from?
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