The Perfect Table
by Peggy K. Mack
July 26, 2013
Have you ever been asked to help someone with a challenge she has in her life? You are concerned about her and love her; as a person, a friend, a family member and a child of God. You pray about her situation. You think about what might help her find a resolution and you spend time with her in conversation. You offer your thoughts, support and prayers.
Days, weeks, and maybe even months go by and you see no changes in her approach to the situation. It appears she has not taken any of your suggestions. You feel as if your friend is not listening to you. You may begin to feel invisible, exhausted and "all talked out". Your thoughts lead you to a "what's the use" attitude. Where do you go with this? What can you do?
In a conversation I had with a friend this morning, I remembered a time many years ago. My mother had purchased a "perfect" kitchen dinette set and was so pleased that the top of the table was a laminated bright yellow pattern to accent her kitchen wall paper. She was so pleased with her purchase. Over the next few years, she would have run-ins, literally, with one of the table legs as she brought our meal to the table. The first time she broke her little toe, half of her left foot turned dark blue and the doctor told her the only thing she could do was tape her toe to the other toes for support and wear a bedroom slipper. Dad suggested that the table leg was poorly designed and she might want to consider getting rid of the table. She would not hear of giving up her "perfect" table.
A year later, she got up to get second servings for Dad and broke her little toe, again. She didn't have to call the doctor. She elevated her foot and iced it. Then Mom taped it to her other toes and went to work for several weeks with a bedroom slipper. The healing process was slow and walking was painful. Dad begged her to let him replace the table with one that had a pedestal under it instead of the four metal legs. She did not want to discuss giving up her "perfect" table. The final straw came while I was away at college. She broke her little toe the third time and she said little. She iced it, taped it and got her slipper ready for work in the morning. But this time, she looked at Dad and said, ''I'll decide in the morning if I want a new table or I will wear shoes in the kitchen." Finally she found a way to say, ''Maybe, just maybe, the table was not so perfect after all''. Maybe she would let Daddy locate a pedestal style table, and if not, she would wear shoes in the kitchen.
The purpose of telling you this story is to show that maybe it is not your fault that your special person is not changing her life, in spite of the fact she claims to be miserable and insists on asking for your assistance. The problem lies in the fact, that in even though your friend is feeling pain, she may not be willing to let go of what is causing her pain. Unless and until, she makes the commitment to change, she will continue to experience the pain. What do you do in a situation like this? You offer to help her make a plan for what she believes will help her. And then, you say, "I will talk to you about anything in the world, but let's leave this alone until you feel you are ready to take those first steps toward that change you want to make."
My dad was wise enough to offer a solution to mom and when she refused, he let it go. He supported her in every other way. But the table was not up for discussion. Did it hurt him to see her break her toe? You bet it did. But he knew her so well. He knew she was strong willed and determined and until she decided her toe was more important than her table, she would not change.
Be patient with your friend. But be firm and clear about how you feel and confirm with them your belief that you know they can do it. Then let go. God break down the wall that has her paralyzed. Accept the fact that you may not be the one to help her and she may never make the changes that would help her life. Ask God to show her what you cannot. God can break down the wall that has her paralyzed. Ask God to show her what you cannot. It is our job as a Christian to pray for those we love. We must ask God to take over when we see with our own eyes that everything we have done is making no difference. We give and we do as much as we can and we give it to God to complete what we cannot.
When did we decide that if we do not get through to them, nothing will change? How foolish of us to forget that God is with us and in us and working through us. And God is guiding her now. When she reaches the point of being tired of feeling the hurt and feeling the fear or whatever else she is feeling, your friend will walk away from the pain. Not all do, but that is where faith and hope and patience are an important part.
It hurts us when someone we love is hurting and wanting help and searching for a way out. Help us to find the right words to aid them. Let us see when all we are doing is not making a difference. Remind us that you are always with us and we have done all we can, you will lead them to healing. We will love them, pray for them and keep their company, but we cannot do it all.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3: 5-6