How far can you lead someone into the lake before they drown? You know how to swim. You are with someone who knows how to swim. This person wants to go into the lake, in fact, their heart's desire is to spend their life in the lake...yet the farthest they have ever been is wading up to their knees, and the water was too cold. Now you lead them in and they get to their knees and are okay with it. So you take them a little farther and they seem a little anxious, but still okay, after all, they can swim, they have just never had to. The farther you go, the farther they follow and eventually they are over their head in the water...and they love it. But, they still have doubts on whether or not they can swim enough. So you shout encouragement to them, you give them life vests that you have used and are well worn, but still work. Then, just when you think everything will be okay they go under. They flail, they thrash around, they claim they are alright, but you don't believe you try to help. But instead of helping, this time you just push their head farther under the water. So how far do you go to help them? When do you just swim back to shore and let them either learn to trust their swimming ability or drown? How much is too much and how little is too little? Is there a cutoff?

Another example. You are going have done it lots of times and are confident in your have been doing it for years and know what mistakes can be made and how to fix them. But on this trip you are taking someone who has only skydived a few times, and those times were filled with fear and near-misses. But you are sure you can help this person because you are a pro at skydiving. Yet, when the time comes and you push this person out of the airplane you wonder if they remember how to open their chute. Did you tell them so many things that they will forget the simple one of just doing what comes naturally? Will they get scared and remember all the bad things that happened the last time they went? Did you tell them enough that every time is different and this time they just may land on the ground, in one piece, where they intended to land? Or do you just hope for the best and continue on your jump? When you get to the ground and this person is not there, do you look for them? Or what if they are there and they are upset with you because you pushed them out of the airplane? Do you try to convince them it was worth it and they should spend the rest of their lives jumping out of airplanes?

When do you just step back and let these people learn on their own? Is there a time when you can look at them and not wonder if they need help and you just might be the person to save them? What if your trying to save them makes them drown faster or makes their parachute not matter how hard you tried? How do you just step back from these people, people you love, and not try to help save them? 

date May 21, 2009

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