You Cannot Be a Savior
Grad school wasn’t the problem. That became apparent as the tears welled up in my eyes, and I was suddenly at a loss for words as the unknown future loomed in front of me, and the weight of it all made me put my face in my hands and sob on my friend’s leather recliner when she asked what my plans were.
At the time, my parents were in real estate. Their investment houses (which they had invested their retirement savings) weren’t selling and they were getting nervous about the future. The stress was causing some serious health concerns for my mom.
I had a great job that provided for my own needs, but at 23 my income wasn’t sufficient to help my parents on the level that I wanted. I felt obligated to fix it, but I couldn’t so I felt guilty for my own inadequacy instead. Why did I just have an English degree?
I had already started applying to grad school for speech pathology to increase my future earning potential, but my parent’s situation made me start to consider it as a necessity if I wanted to be able to help support them in the future.
I felt guilty because I couldn’t support my parents.
I felt guilty because I couldn’t give my mom or dad the individual encouragement I felt they both needed. I’m the empath in the family! Isn’t creating harmony and soothing fears my job?
I felt guilty because I was actually considering moving out of state but I felt torn because my dad needed help with his new business. Was I abandoning my family?
Most of all, I felt guilty about being helpless.
I was frantic with myself. I called myself a disloyal daughter and discontent for wanting different things than the rest of my family wanted because I was considering moving. With the added pressure I was putting on myself to attend grad school immediately instead a few years down the road, it became an unhealthy weight I insisted on carrying and I finally broke down.
Recognizing that my loyalty to my family is my Achilles heel has been eye-opening to me on my journey to understand how to Biblically approach guilt.
Recently, everything seems to be unraveling all at once in the lives of my family and closest friends. Worse, I come out unscathed. I’m whole, healthy, and have a wonderful job that lets me travel. I feel guilty. How can I be so blessed when those I care most about are deeply hurting?
I remind myself:
I am not called to be my sister’s savior.
I am not called to be my brothers’ savior.
I am not called to be my friend’s savior and I certainly cannot save her marriage.
I am not called or required or capable of being my parents’ savior.
As someone who cares deeply for others, it pains me to admit I cannot actually solve any of their problems. So I ask, my voice quavering, “Is God really big enough?”
I am not looking through rose-colored glasses. If God is who He claims or promises, it’s a fair question. Can He take the ruined hopes, fractured relationships, poor choices, and just the mere day-to-day burdens of those I so dearly love, and can He redeem it all? And if He doesn’t make it better, is He still good and is He still God?
It’s one thing to accept God’s sovereignty for my own life. I don’t really have an issue of trusting Him with that. Somehow, though, it’s harder for me to entrust the lives of loved ones to Him.
If you’re a naturally nurturing person, it’s rather easy to give up your own desires for those you love. Putting others first comes naturally in that regard. As long as you are in control, you can make sure that the people you care about are happy and healthy and you feel fulfilled in return.
For those of us who like to control and comfort, what is there for us other than guilt over our own inadequacies? I am daring to say that there is Hope, but this is not easy or immediate. God’s progressive promises come with progressive obedience. Once things are outside of your control, that’s when the walk of faith begins.
Christ did not promise to make our physical circumstances better.
I am learning that the response to self-inflicted guilt is the acceptance that yes, Christ’s sacrifice IS enough for my own inadequacies.
If I can trust Him to forgive my multitude of sins, how can I not trust such a kind heart to look after those I love?
If repentance is not truly needed, guilt and insecurity and fear have no place in the heart of a Christian. Surely we are most effective when we are crying out to God on behalf of others rather than wringing our hands over situations we cannot fix?
It has taken me many years of wrestling to be able to reach this conclusion, and, honestly, it’s a daily struggle to fight my own anxiety and self-loathing for not being able to immediately ease the burdens of loved ones, but I have hope.
If you are like me and feel guilty when you are helpless, then I wish I could look into your face, although I admit I cannot save you, and let you know that things will never be perfect, but they can still be beautiful. He is still good and He is still God, and if we embrace that reality, we will find the hope we’re so desperately looking for.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In 2018, Payden earned her B.A. in English from Regent University and is now pursuing her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Oklahoma State University. A roadtrip aficianado, Payden can be found traveling the beautiful U.S. when her nose is not stuck in a textbook. She has a desire to help other women see the freedom and fullness that comes in living a life abandoned to Christ, and wants to spend every waking minute pursuing God's call on her life.