Do You Want To Get Well?

I think we all know of someone we love who has some injury or illness and will do nothing to make it better. 'ah, it's nothing' is the response or 'yeah, I'll make the appointment' is the promise. However, it is never 'nothing' and the promise is a lie. Perhaps it is the fear of finding out the truth that something just MAY be wrong and something HAS to be done. Regardless, for those of us who go through the endless begging, pleading, nagging, threatening and crying to get the person we love to DO SOMETHING, the truth is, there is nothing we can do or say to make it happen.

For those of you familiar with the Bible, I will use a particular scripture as an example of the 'Do Nothing About It' experience (and if you are not familiar with the Bible, well, then, you'll learn something new!).

In John 5:1-15, Jesus is travelling along and comes to a healing pool where all sorts of sick and lame come to be healed. There he meets a man who has been an invalid for the last 38 years. After hearing his story and learning how long he had been there, Jesus asks him the most simple yet profound of questions: "Do you want to get well?" The man does not say 'YES!! I do!!'. Instead he launches into a litany of excuses 'there is no one to help me...' (did he ask for help?), 'people get in my way! (tell them to move!)' Jesus must clearly find his excuses weak because he then says, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." Thankfully, the guy does what Jesus says... not sure why. Perhaps he had a moment of clarity and saw his pathetic, excuse-making self and thought 'oh man... this is a terrible way to exist.'

The story doesn't indicate how this man became an invalid. This is not like other Jesus miracles, where he laid his hands on the lame and they walk or spit in the eyes of the blind and they see. He just calls the man out on the fact that his 'paralysis' is seemingly self-inflicted. Speaking plainly seemed to be the trick to get the man to finally, after nearly four decades, to be 'cured' and to GET UP.

I am a fan of speaking plainly in the fashion of Jesus & have used this approach many times. Unfortunately, the plain speech has been taken by the receiver as an unloving and mean spirited attack. However, speaking plainly and truthfully is the most loving thing one can do. I mean, really...how loving is it to not speak the truth and feed the denial?

The primary symptoms of the afflicted are obvious by the afflicted person's complaint ('my stomach is killing me', 'my back is on fire', 'I slept about an hour last night'). The secondary symptoms, which are complications that arise from the primary symptoms, are also obvious, (though we may choose to turn a blind eye to them): moodiness, irritability, depression, extreme selfishness, withdrawing from people, lack of affection. In a nutshell, the primary symptoms affect everything in the afflicted person's life including the people around them and their relationships.

A continual lack of response from the one who is toxic can become toxic to you as well and at times, the best thing may be to walk away. It might feel like you are giving up or not being loving. The truth is, you are really only hurting yourself, which in turn, will hurt the afflicted even more (I think in the shrink world, they call that 'Co-Dependancy'). I always think of the flight attendant who instructs us: 'put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting the needs of others.'

Learn from experience: nagging, pleading, threatening and crying have proven ineffective. You can't fix anyone or force them to do what they are unwilling to do. You can, however, do the most loving thing of all... Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before turning to the afflicted and asking "Do you want to get well?" You never know... they just might get up.