(Originally Posted – November 2015)
“No. People don’t belong to people.”
I adore Audrey Hepburn for a lot of reasons, too many to go into right now.
But this Holly Golightly line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s is definitely near the top.
This is a lesson that it’s taken me a lot of time to learn. And I’m not there yet, but I have come a long way. Me, I’m a control freak. My favorite pastimes are trying to fit things into a box and wrapping my mind around every possible detail. As a result of my control issues, sometimes I try to play God, thinking that I know better than Him. But usually, when I get all grabby and put my hands all over things, I wind up realizing I should’ve left them in His hands.
When it comes to people this gets tricky. I care an awful lot, I love to fix things, and sometimes I wonder if I’m a magnet for people with emotional baggage. I see people struggling with something and my immediate reaction is to try and fix them. To reach into their lives and pull out the pain, to get out my band-aids and go to work. I seem to think that if I can just love them enough, all of their issues will be resolved. But the thing is, I am no more than human myself. I’m not Jesus; He’s the only one who can do the saving. And I’m not perfect, so sometimes my own humanity might even make things messier.
Next to Audrey one of my biggest inspirations is a spunky author by the name of Hannah Brencher. Per usual, Hannah hits it on the head in her book, when she says: “Just because something breaks, or comes to you broken already, doesn’t always mean you should script yourself an invitation to go on and fix it.”
Now I don’t want to make it sound like I’m saying we shouldn’t let people in, or get involved in anyone else’s life. One of the best things about this life is getting to be in relationships, sharing our jumping up and down days and our sobbing on the couch days with humans who see our own dysfunction and love us anyway. We are called to do life in community with each other. But this is just a reminder that, if you’re like me, you need to remember the balance. Ultimately God is at work in all the people in your life. And regardless of how hard you try, it’s not within your power to put their pieces back together. Maybe more importantly, it’s not your responsibility either. You are not in control of the circumstances or the outcome in your relationship with that person. It’s them and God.
One of the side effects of the illusion that we’re in control is the heart ache that can come when someone slips from our reach. People leaving, a relationship coming to an end, most of us would agree this is one of the hardest things we’ve ever gone through. I think part of it stems from this idea that somehow, we own the people that come into our lives. But, holding on as tightly as possible, fighting for all we’re worth, is just an extension of our desire to fix people on our own. Hannah writes:
“Maybe that is why some people walk into your life- to tip you over and pour you out. Maybe some people storm into your life just to tell you they’re not supposed to be there. That you can’t take them or anyone else with you wherever you are going next. Maybe not everyone we encounter is a love story. Maybe some are wake-up calls.” (If You Find This Letter)
These are words that I have repeated to myself over and over again. I know who these people are and have been in my life. And it’s true, there are some people that God does not intend to stay forever. They often come to teach us something and then to wave goodbye when they’ve said the piece they came to say. That’s hard for us to understand, because we love to hold on. But we have, have to know that we are not the ones in control. We don’t get to know why; we can’t see the aerial view of our lives.
So join me in cutting it out. Stop pretending that you are God, that you can fix people, that people are things that belong to you. Lift the hurting, broken people in your life up to Him and if He’s asking you to, trust Him enough to let them go. He can make their lives beautiful the same way that He redeemed yours. Audrey knows best.