How Controlling Others to Protect My Image Has Hurt Them

On him we have set our hope… (2 Cor 1:10).
Have you ever had this thought about a loved one? “Stop acting like that you’re making me look bad.”
I have.
Now, have you ever tried to control or cover up their poor behavior to keep up your image before others? Yeah, that’s been me too.
As I was talking with a dear friend yesterday, I realized the desires I’ve had to cover up things in my life have only hurt the person who was struggling and my relationship with them. Mainly because my attempts to keep their issues from effecting me have quite simply made them feel inadequate, unloved and have pushed them away. At that moment, the only person I really care about is myself. My image, my needs, my wants, my desires are the things I am controlled by as I try to control this person and their actions.
Entrusting a person to God is hard, but it is so necessary if we really want to see God take brokenness in the people we love and make it brand new. It’s easy to say, “I have set my hope on God,” but what happens when someone starts to mess with our image or make us look bad? What then? Do we actually set our hope on God and trust in His ability to work in their lives even if that means they wallow in the mud for a long time?
Sometimes I think the reason we try to cover it up is that we believe the lie that if we would have just been a better spouse, parent, friend or whatever this person wouldn’t have made those decisions and so instead of caring for them, we carry shame and take it personally.
What I have learned in life is that people make decisions and I can’t own them as if they were my own. I can love them and encourage them towards truth, but sometimes decisions are made completely apart from anything I have encouraged them to do. Then, there are other times, when the decisions they are making do in fact have something to do with me and an area in my life that needs to grow and change and I need to stop running from that and start owning it.
One of the most damaging things within the church is people, who’ve been like me and try to project an image before others. This only hurts your growth in Christ and keeps others closest to you from finding freedom as you attempt to control and manipulate them into holding up your need to look good to other people.
Lord, forgive us. We are so afraid to be real, honest and transparent. It hurts people so much when we try to keep up an image. Father, if there is any part of me that is doing that, please show me so that I can walk in freedom from that and towards your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

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