I can’t help you

So I had a scary incident at work this morning. A gentleman who has been struggling with some mental health issues, including addictions, and dealing with some personal issues was found unconscious in his car.

I have had many conversations with with him in recent months because of my position in Human Resources. He had recently been kicked out of rehab before coming back to work. Being the empath that I am, I wanted to help him, to fix him. I want to help everyone who comes into my office. But I can’t.

First of all, there are professional boundaries that need to be maintained. Yes, I could talk about and share information about Celebrate Recovery to almost every person that walks into my office but I do not feel it is appropriate to do that at work. I have brochures on my desk at the ready and will talk about it if people ask.

In addition to all of that, I need to set personal boundaries. As much as I want to help everyone, I cannot. I am not a counselor or social worker. I can give people ideas or show them their options but that is it. It does not help my own recovery to try to fix everyone else.

The people around us need to take responsibility for their own healing and recovery. As the saying goes, “We can only help people who are willing to help themselves.” From what I have witnessed at Celebrate Recovery, this is very true. We can pray for them, direct them, show them their options, but the hard work is up to them.

I have seen people start the process of recovery but part-way through realize they are not ready to face the truth. They are not willing to step out of denial and admit they need help.

I can admit that recovery is not easy. I personally found denial to be the hardest because I had to face the truth. My moral inventory was the next hardest. Having to admit and face (in my head) all the people who have hurt me and list all of those I have hurt was embarrassing, shameful, stressful and painful. It also did not help that some in my family did not understand what I was doing or why.

Forgiving is the next painful step. The biggest thing to remember is that forgiveness does not mean forgetting what was done or saying what was done to you is acceptable. Forgiveness is letting go of the hold the other person has on you. Holding on to the anger, pain and resentment is like drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die. It doesn’t work like that. At some point you have to let go of the pain but you can’t do that until you admit it is there.

As much as we are not able to fix people, the recovery process cannot be done alone. It takes counselors, sponsors and/or accountability partners to be there and support you through the difficult times.

Jesus is another important resource as you go through recovery. He is there all the time whether we realize it or not. Remember the poem, “Footprints in the Sand”? It is said that when there was only one set of footprints in the sand, it was during the most difficult times. It is then that Jesus carries us. When we are too weak to stand, kneel. Jesus has us, our struggles, our pain. He will not leave us.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all share the same story of a blind man (or two) who asks Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus approached him and asked in return, “What do you want me to do for you?”

In this scene, Jesus wants the man to say outright what he wants. To admit that he needs help. It may not always be obvious. Sometimes our disabilities and pains are invisible. But specifically asking God for help is one step closer to recovery. It is the admission that life is unmanageable on your own.

Whatever you are struggling with right now, the first step is admitting there is an issue. The next step is asking for help. Reach out your hand to someone, and to God, and ask. It is that simple, hard and scary all at the same time, but you can do it.

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