One of my biggest struggles as a teacher is knowing that I won’t be able to reach all of my students. No matter what techniques I use, no matter how patient I am, I may not see the fruit of my labor. Similarly, this is true of some people I encounter in my personal life. No matter how much potential I see in them and how much I may like them; I can offer advice and be a voice of reason, it’s not my job to save them.

My husband and I have an ongoing debate about whether or not I’m an empath (a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them-, and I’m convinced I am. I can be nonchalant. I can be detached. I can be anti-social. But all of that is an attempt to ward off the effects of being an empath (well, maybe lol). Growing up, I got a spanking because I was trying to save my little sister from getting a spanking she rightfully deserved. While I was in graduate school my professor’s father suddenly passed away and with the way I cried, you would have thought it was my dad who had passed (this happened before that). After I found out one of my 16-year-old client’s father was on drugs (and so was my client), I didn’t sleep for a week. Without thinking about it, I take on people’s pain as my own. I get wrapped up in their joy, but it is their pain that I want to save them from. This is neither healthy nor helpful for me.

Things happen, people make choices, and my world doesn’t have to crumble as a result of others experiencing pain. I can say and do all of the things, and their feelings may remain the same. I have learned (well, I’m still learning) that it’s possible to support people without being burdened by the responsibility to “fix” their problems and save them from distress. Let God do that; trust that God will. Often times, you just showing up to remind them that you’re there is enough. I once read that great therapists don’t have great answers, they have great questions. You can be curious about someone’s pain without getting entangled in it. You can cry with them and answer their midnight calls and help them research options and still enjoy your life without being paralyzed by their sadness.

You can’t save everyone and you don’t have to. Growth can happen in painful situations. Sometimes God will use someone else to reach someone you can’t seem to get through to. Sometimes people aren’t ready to be different. Under any of those circumstance, you don’t have to drown in other’s people’s sorrows. Throw out the life boat from the ship and let God do the saving.  

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

July 2022