Newsletter Article

LIVE AND LET LIVE

      The gospels from Matthew and the letter to the Romans for the past two Sundays have been about dealing with "neighbors" who have stepped out of line.  Two interesting boundary markers are set.  The power of binding and loosing gives us a way to try to bring the relationship back into line by disassociating from offenders.  We are also commanded not to condemn those who refuse to be restored to fellowship.

      This combination sets an interesting problem that I have been grappling with for as long as I can remember.  My parents could never leave off trying to correct me and the way I think. They took exception to my choices and then later to the life I had chosen as a professional woman. While trying to control me they pretty much offended me in every possible way.  They felt firmly backed by their culture of South Texas.  They wouldn't hear me when I tried to bring this to their attention. So you would think that the logical course for me would be to condemn them and cut them off as soon as I moved out, but they were my folks.

        My solution was to carefully limit the time I spent with them so that I could keep my cool. Mouthing off put them into a rage, and I didn't want them to give them the satisfaction.  So, I used their belief system to my advantage.

       In my family having to work was the "go to" excuse.  My parents used it to dodge anything they didn't want to do.  I always worked in highly responsible jobs that required a lot of attention, so it was easy to find a genuine excuse to leave when they became too offensive. Because my children also tended to resist being controlled, we would leave to protect them as well. My parents always suspected what I was doing and found ways to punish me for it by bad-mouthing me, but it was the way I could continue to see them and love them. Over the long haul I decided this was not a bad solution even though it was never a comfortable one.

      It wasn't comfortable because I wanted more from our relationship than this unsteady, cranky peace.  I had to learn to just let it be. They chose this way of relating to me and my children, refusing to change any part of it. In much the same way God remains in relationship with us while we are making choices that keep us apart. What my folks were doing was not okay with me, but love would not allow me to condemn and cut them off.

     The dynamics are easier to see when dealing with people we feel obliged to love.  I have learned to manage anyone trying to control or use me in pretty much the same way I dealt with my parents.  I measure out what I am willing to give, taking some time to pray about it.  Then I give what I decide to give and let it go. Letting go is the key to an effective response. I am using my power of binding and loosing in a constructive way. I bind myself to the solution I choose, and give up my need to control what happens next.  Think of it as the moral equivalent of the old carpenter's adage, "measure twice; cut once".

       Because I take this heads up approach, I manage to stay in relationship with most people.  It may sound like a lot of trouble, but it works very well. It became easier once I got the hang of it.  This strategy manages to keep things in balance in my emotional world. People with control issues show their hands without being aware of it. Through my own awareness, I make it harder for them to hurt me with their efforts. I have an effective, low-key way of responding.  This is only one use of the power of binding and loosing.

       It is amazing how effective binding and loosing can be as we try to make good choices and then live with and by them. The Bible was read to me every Sunday as a child, just as it is now. It is full of good advice for living. I started out as a kid really needing it. The Bible was my "Dear Abby". The desire to love my parents helped me to learn a skill that has served me well.    Deborah+