“You are over-responsible”………and with that, the marriage counselor labeled me.
Rightly so, I must admit.
Over-responsible people do too much for others and try to solve other people’s problems.
But it took conflict early in our marriage for me to identify how I was operating in this capacity. In my effort to love my husband, I often tried to “fix” him. This caused him to feel disrespected and me to feel pressure to “manage” him.
As soon as I learned about this concept of being “too responsible” and the accompanying emotions experienced by it, I wholeheartedly agreed with my need to resist this compulsion.
Nonetheless, understanding the label didn’t automatically remove it.
It is engrained in me to feel burdened on behalf of others. I struggle with feeling pulled in- “helping” others carry the weight of their troubles or even going a step further to solve their problems for them.
And this is exhausting!! To me and everyone around me!!
I often feel anxiety from over-focusing on other people. Feeling frustrated because they aren’t fixing their own problems the way I would, or at the rate I would, can be a continuous strain for me.
But aren’t we supposed to get involved as described in Galatians 6:2?
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
I learned quickly that yes we are supposed to help others but that is different that carrying their burdens FOR them. When I care MORE about a problem than they do, or when they are NOT asking for my advice or heeding it, then I need to recognize my boundaries.
He actually refers to it as our “cross” to bear.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV
“His cross” denotes a personal one, for each of us. I cannot carry the full weight of burdens for someone else nor can they do that for me. Apart from Jesus bearing our full burden of sin and guilt on the cross, there are limits the rest of us must abide by.
How can we understand these limits and more importantly, when we may be close to crossing them?
Learning a mental cue has helped me recognize the boundaries for responsibility. I heard the phrase of “staying in my lane” from a co-worker and it clicked immediately for me.
I was able to quickly picture when I was veering out of my lane and into others. Two benefits quickly emerged.
First, I began to see how often I actually verge into God’s “lane.” Regrettably, I not only presented my requests to God, I advised Him on how He should handle them.
The Holy Spirit began to reveal the extent of my over-responsibility. I WAS TRYING TO “MANAGE” GOD!
Secondly, I began to equate the feelings brought on from my over-responsibility as running over the raised lane reflectors on the highway. When I veer outside my lane driving, I feel the vibrations as my tires cross the boundary. That thumping sound catches my attention and guides me back to safety.
Now when my anxiety starts elevating, I can quickly associate that to my veering outside of my lane of responsibility into someone else’s. I am able to quickly correct my direction and find the peace back in my own lane.
Learning to stay in my own lane has allowed me the rest I was craving-the rest of carrying no crosses but my own.
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Read more from the author Gretchen Fleming at Gretchenfleming.com
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