I have a friend who was a caretaker to her mother for many, many years, until recently, when she passed away. I know there were times when my friend wanted desperately to “fix” her mom. She wanted to help her, encourage her, which every good daughter wants to do. But her mother’s needs outweighed my friend’s ability to meet them. She could easily run herself ragged as the nurse, the counselor, the organizer, the bill payer, the physical therapist, the chef and housekeeper, the everything.
It was exhausting. Frustrating. Because the truth was, my friend couldn’t “be” everything, no matter how hard she tried, no matter how much she loved her mother. (oh, and she did, with such a sweet, self-sacrificing love)
I recently heard some advice she passed along to a mutual friend of ours in a similar situation. Her advice was, just be the daughter.
Don’t be the nurse, the motivator, the coach. Don’t be anything today, but just the daughter.
That phrase just sunk into me when I heard it. Just be what you are. I have to say, I am guilty of trying to be more than I am sometimes. I want to be the fixer, the truth-speaker, the voice of reason, and even, shamefully, the conscience. Sometimes I am so busy coming up with a plan, a solution, some iron-clad advice, that I forget to listen, and just be the daughter. Or the sister. Or the friend.
Loving, praying- those are my jobs. The rest, I can trust to God. When I start trying to do His job, I am going to fail.
It’s hard to let go, because I want the people in my life to be okay. I want them all to be healthy and happy. I want them to have the joy that comes from a life of obedience and faithfulness. I want them to have the fullness of life found in Christ.
But, that’s not up to me. I can’t control anyone. Trying to fix someone else’s life is not my jurisdiction. When I try, I miss out on just getting to be what I am, and I deprive the other person of being who they are. So, today, I will just be. I will not do. I will just be the daughter. The sister. The wife. The mother. The friend. I will not fix, advise, intervene, counsel, negotiate, mediate, judge. I will not declare, suggest, or opine. Not with the intent of changing what they do. I am not the Changer. That job belongs to Someone Else.
I’ll just love and pray and be what I am.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t moments when, as a daughter or friend or sister, that I shouldn’t do those other things. Good counsel is a gift from God, friends who speak the truth are a blessing. But there comes a point when you cross the line. When that becomes the defining characteristic of the relationship, we’ve lost something. Something fundamental, and special. We’ve lost the original design of these God-given relationships.
Letting go, knowing when that’s right, and when it’s not- has been one of the toughest lesson I’ve come upon so far. But when I do relinquish the responsibilities that I’ve wrongly assumed, when I rest, when I am quiet and content with the relationships in my life… I am free.
“Be still and know that I am God.”