Sometimes, we make bad decisions and sometimes, we have friends and family who make bad decisions…
When we make bad decisions, it’s usually out of selfishness and a disregard for the people around us (especially the ones who really care for us). When our friends make bad decisions, it is our duty as friends to do whatever we can to help them get back on track and start making good decisions again, even if that means a solid dose of “tough love”. Unfortunately, like us, our friends are not worrying about what other people think when they are in this mode of bad decision making. They’re only worried about themselves.
It is these times that I find among the most difficult in life… Having to watch a loved one make bad, self-destructive decisions.
Despite how hard we try, or how well intentioned our “tough love” is, often times these situations simply have to run their course. Usually, it’s not until these bad decisions lead to rock-bottom that this decision-making trend changes. And sometimes, that’s not even enough.
“As a dog returns to it’s vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” – Proverbs 26:11
So, as good friends, what are we supposed to do?
… Everything we can. Love them, support them, encourage them, rebuke their bad decisions, and continue to offer to help them make good decisions. But, if they choose to continue making bad decisions, there has to come a time when you stop feeling bad for them. For sorrow is reserved for those who experience hardship outside of their control. Like the death of a loved one, or an unprovoked loss. But, when our friends choose to bring hardship upon themselves, we become “enablers” if we are constantly rescuing them.
I know this may sound harsh and it is only meant for the most extreme of circumstances, but we will all experience unhealthy relationships. In these relationships, after doing all that we can to help a person change, we must eventually let go. And when we think of them and their terrible circumstance (which they brought upon themselves), we must refuse to “feel bad” for them. Why? Because it makes no sense.
How can I “feel bad” for someone who has had countless opportunities to turn their situation around, but instead has opted to continue down the destructive road they are on, all at the cost of their friends and family? I can’t feel bad for them. I feel bad for their friends and family who have continued to reach out to them. But it is inaccurate to call the sentiment and emotion I feel for them “bad”. If anything, I’m angry, hurt, frustrated, and confused. And though I will always welcome them back if / when they ever decide to accept my help, I will not feel bad for them.
Instead, like Mr. T (from the A-Team) so famously said, I will simply “pity the fool.”
“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t let other people be reckless with yours.” – Unknown