When Times Get Tough Lean In

This is a picture of our ragdoll cat Duke and our dachshund Lola. Normally they want nothing to do with each other. They don’t fight. They just basically stay out of each other’s way. So I found it amazing when I came home the other day to see them staring out the window with Lola, who is clearly the coward of the bunch, seeming to be looking at Duke as if to say, “Are we okay?” Duke was just staring ahead and the caption I wrote for him was, “I’m not really sure but I’m right here next to you.”

It made me think about the many times in my life when I’ve been Lola. Staring up at someone hoping they could make it all okay. Sometimes they have been able to save me from what was ahead, and sometimes they couldn’t, but the feeling of leaning on someone and giving up control is something that can lead to both closeness and resentment. It feels good initially to give up control when the feelings are too scary, but when it doesn’t go as planned it can be maddening.

On the other hand sometimes the scariest feeling is to be the one who is being leaned on. To know you are the one staring into an uncertain future and knowing someone else is counting on you to see the clear path to safety. To hope you can come out as a hero, and to fear that you will come out feeling shame and guilt when you couldn’t save the person you loved, from the situation they are in.

When I’m in Lola’s shoes I have to remind myself that at the end of the day I can lean on someone else in a moment, but no one is responsible for my fate. And when I stand in Duke’s place, I have to remind myself that I am really not in control. Even if I am the hero today, I will fail another day because that’s what happens to humans. So my hope for you is that when you are in need of someone to lean on, lean in, but understand that you are leaning on a human. Understand that even if they have the best intentions for you, they may not have the ability to change the path. And when you are the one being leaned on, lean-in, but forgive yourself if you are unable to see the clear path out of the situation.

 

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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