Have you Ever Over Protected?
I often as a man want to be a protector, it’s in our nature as men to protect and defend the ones we love. We want to serve them in this way, and lighten their loads. At least, that’s me. Today, I was talking to my mother who said something that got me thinking. She told me that as a man I still have to let my girlfriend bear her cross faithfully.
Sometimes, in our endeavors to be protectors, we actually circumvent the discipleship process in our significant others. I know that I try to be aloof and uninvolved in some situations, but sometimes I get sucked into wanting to protect my girlfriend from rough situations in the wrong way. What I mean is, I try to rip her off her cross, instead of holding her up as she suffers.
How do we go about not over-protecting?
Well, first we understand that Jesus and the Bible and the Church Tradition teach us it’s OK to suffer. The greatest among the saints are the martyrs, the ones who sit under the very throne of God. As Tertullian said “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” We cannot grow the kingdom without understanding that suffering is part of that growth. Pope Benedict XVI says “The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain;” I think he’s right.
Jesus put it this way:
“…just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…” (John 3.14). So too, we Christians, who work in and with Christ as His body suffer for the good of the world. It’s our calling to share in the sufferings of Christ. But men, that’s not just you, that’s your spouses and girlfriends too. It’s all of us. Each in their own way, suffering to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Colossians 1.24).
Are you waging war or lifting up?
I have a confession: I feel like I was accidentally waging war on my girlfriend. There was a situation with her where I felt I wanted to protect her, but she kept saying it was gonna be alright. I got really stressed about it, but I feel all I did was bring my war on the situation to her doorstep, it didn’t solve anything. I was trying to pull her from her cross, instead of being faithful to lift her up in her sufferings.
Forcing my vision of “peace and safety” on her, would solve nothing. It would accomplish little, and it was just my wrath spewing over onto her, because I could not fix or solve the situation. I had to trust in God, and in her, instead of my own strength or power. I could not power over the situation, and I should NOT have been trying to. I should have been encouraging her in her discipleship, and practicing Moses.
What does it mean to ‘Practice Moses’?
It means making a path for restorative suffering. It means to make room for our friends, and others, our spouses and children to suffer restoratively. We let them suffer, but encourage them, strengthen them and make it so that their suffering means something to God. There’s a whole wide world out there hurting, but we as Christians can intercede by the very act of suffering when we do it rightly.
I’m learning to practice the way of Moses, and lift her up. In the face of a world full of suffering, instead of goading “if you’re so strong why don’t you come down?” we should lift up. I should notice that my girlfriend’s suffering is not a bad thing, if she does it well, and in the shoes of Moses, I should lift her up, as the Father lifted up Jesus, His Son, for our redemption.
To practice Moses means in short, to let her be, and support her in her trials, encouraging her along the way, and offering patient support. Your wife/husband, friend, girl/boyfriend might be strong enough to pull themselves off that cross, but should they? And if they do, should you rejoice in this, or encourage them to pick up their cross and carry on, lifting them up in suffering so that many more might be healed?
Are you lifting up your spouses and friends and helping them help others with their pains and sufferings? Are you making a way for restorative suffering to happen between you and your spouse and friends or are you trying to force an irregular and premature “peace” that in the long run offers no salvation, no Christ in your world.
Just something to think about.