Remember when you wanted to do something stupid and your mom wouldn’t let you? No matter how much you pleaded, she said the same thing.
“But Mom, Sarah, Vanessa and Terry are all doing it! Please!”
What was your Mom’s comeback?
“If everyone jumped off the London Bridge, does that mean you should too?”
End of discussion.
Mom made it clear that, because someone else is doing something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should do it too. And yet, that’s where I found myself relationally.
In any of my intimate relationships – family, friends and loved ones, even bosses – I found myself jumping off their bridges all the time.
My self-worth, my safety, was in how other people behaved towards me, so, if they were crashing and burning, I was too. I had no idea how to stand when someone close to me fell.
Good responses equaled safe. Negative responses equaled unsafe. Right and wrong where secondary considerations.
You’re acting out of fear because of something at your work? I’m acting out of fear, willing to compromise almost anything so you will go back to behaviour that feels safe.
You’ll be happy if things go in this direction? Then we’re going in this direction, right or wrong, so that I can be happy too.
I distinctly remember looking around at people to see what kind of a mood we were in today. I even used to hide what radio station I listened to when I borrowed my boyfriend’s car, because we listened to his kind of music, not mine.
When people who I’d given leadership to were dishonest, it felt wrong, but I was following. His bridge. Her bridge. Never my own bridge.
The truth is, we’re designed look to someone else to prop us up. We’re actually made to jump off of someone else’s bridge, so to speak. I just didn’t know who’s.
There are a lot of people in the world who look like they know where to jump to get good results. So, how do we choose who to follow?
We can follow someone who looks like they’re successful at life, but looks can be deceiving. I’ve looked worth following when I’ve been anything but.
So looks are out.
Choosing what feels right might seem to work, for those who have a fairly straight line on right, wrong and how life works. But what felt right for me for most of my life was actually sucking the life out of me.
So feelings are out, as well.
If we want to stand when others are falling – and humans always fall – then who do we follow?
As it turns out, there’s another thing that mothers sometimes say that turned out to be my answer of who to follow.
Ever heard your Mom say, “I wish life came with an owner’s manual!”?
This is a great place to start for anyone who finds themselves following other’s off the wrong bridges. For me, it’s been life giving.
Because, there is an owner’s manual. And if that’s true, that means that someone built this life, just like a car. Someone knows exactly how it works and how to best make it run.
We don’t have to learn how to stand when everyone around us is falling. We have to choose to follow the one person who never falls.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 NIV