Successful long-term relationships aren’t one-way. One person can’t do all the “giving” and the other all the “receiving” or eventually the relationship will fall apart. But it’s easy to develop an unhealthy relationship when things are one-sided for a sustained period of time. The person “receiving” gets dependent and desires more and more comfort; the “giver” eventually gets worn out and resentful from having to always be the strong one.
How easy is it to switch between these two emotions with the same person? Once you start in the role of “comforter” or “rescuer”, can you ask that same person to comfort you when you are going through a tough time?
I assumed the role of the “comforter” at a young age and had a “need to be needed”. Taking care of people became an addiction as I was trying to impress people by showing how “put together” I was and trying to get them to like me by doing things for them. I’d reach out to help others, but I’d always suffer my own pain in silence, not wanting to admit my weaknesses. I learned an important lesson during my breast cancer treatment when a friend called to bring food. “You don’t need to do that; I’m okay, “ was my quick response. “You don’t understand. I know I don’t need to bring you food; I want to bring you food.” This incredible gesture of love taught me a huge lesson about myself; I need to be vulnerable with my pain and let others serve me, too.
In Mark 1:30-31 we see Peter’s mother-in-law was sick and Jesus went to their home in Capernaum and healed her. When she was healed, she immediately began to serve them: “Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told Jesus about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”
Since my breast cancer I look at my intimate relationships with more balance; some days I am hurting and need comfort; other days, I listen to see if there is a way that I can serve. I recognize that sometimes both people hurt so much that they need others to help them like with a miscarriage or the loss of a child. In these times, both people need to reach out to a priest, a pastor or a good Christian friend to get them through their joint despair. At other times, both people may be in “serving mode” and then they can focus their union on serving the Lord together.
In your most intimate relationships, do you have balance, sometimes serving and sometimes reaching out for healing?
Blessings, my friend,