Problematic Permissions

Recently I had to buy a new cell phone. I was happy with it for a few days until I started to get advertisements popping up that were taking over my screen and forcing me to exit out of whatever application I was in. I came to learn that the ads were being sent by Google. I tried correcting the problem myself, but to no avail. This went on for a few days and during that time I was saying things like, “I can’t believe Google would do this to people” and “This makes me so frustrated” and, “I can’t believe that I have to spend all this time trying to fix this problem”. As time went by, I found myself increasingly frustrated and angry.   Then…..I reached out to my phone’s manufacturer, and found out the problem was my fault.   After eating several slices of humble-pie, I resumed using my phone, and all of my unpleasant thoughts and feelings evaporated. As it turns out, as I was setting up my phone, I gave Google permissions to send me ads. I don’t recall when I did this, but there is no doubt that I caused my own problems. Maybe if I had gone slower in setting up my phone, or paid more attention to all the things I was clicking or agreeing to, I could have saved myself a lot of angst.   This happens in relationship too. We get so frustrated or angry with people, and fail to see that we have given them permission to act a certain way. Even worse is when we promote the very behaviors that are so troubling.   Sometimes our “permissions” sound like this:  

  • When we say to a problem drinker, “I don’t mind you drinking as long as we have quiet in the house”.
  • When we say to our children, “You are not permitted to do that” and then do nothing when they do.
  • When we indirectly say to someone we are in a relationship with, “You can mistreat me, just don’t leave me”.
  • When we say to our parents, “ Let me live my own life” but then go to them every time we create a problem for ourselves.
  • When we tell our children, “You have to learn how to manage your money” while all the while they are watching us buy whatever we like.
  • When we say to our teenager, “It is so good to follow the Lord” and then uncaringly do things that are clearly in opposition to His will.
  • When we challenge our loved ones to be sexually pure, but then watch things on television or on our computers that promote sexual promiscuity.
  • When we see someone we care about making bad choices, and say nothing.

  It is not uncommon for people to give these “permissions” and then constantly complain about the person’s behavior. I write this not to excuse others from their bad behavior, but to challenge each one of us to examine our lives and see if we are giving anyone permission (and help) to live in ways that are harmful to them and to those around them. We give these permissions sometimes because we believe we are loving them by doing so. Other times we give them because we are convinced that it makes life easier. Sometimes we become so deluded that we actually think we are helping people by allowing them to do something that is clearly harmful.   Relationships are complicated, and it is not easy to know what is best. God wants to help us with them. He knows how confusing things can get. He knows how flawed and sinful each one of us is. He knows that we can strive to do well, but come up dreadfully short. H knows how hard it is to talk with people about their troubling behavior and bad choices. He is a gracious and loving God who wants to help us in our time of need.   If you are in a relationship where you are granting permissions to someone, but are now recognizing that doing so is a problem in itself, I encourage you to go before the Lord and lay it all out in front of Him. Tell Him your heartaches and hurts. Share with him your feelings of inadequacy. Tell Him you want to see His will done in the situation and that you need His help. Ask Him to guide you through each situation and to bless you with wisdom.   I am not saying that by going before the Lord in this manner is going to make everything okay with the other person. Sometimes though, when we deal with our own issues, the people we want to help start to get better.   Oh, and when we do so, we spend less days ranting and raving and saying, “How dare they” when some of the problem is really our fault.   For Him,   Rob


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