On page 34 of Jay’s book, she asks us to ask ourselves the following questions?
- “What is our work?” In my situation, my work was not to change the behavior of another person. I had no leverage; I didn’t have that kind of relationship connection where I could request a change and expect a response; I didn’t even have enough regular contact to fully understand what needed to change. That person’s work was not mine to do. However, my answer would have been different if the problem person was my husband, or my best friend, or one of my children who was still a minor. This is a tough question and invariably we need help answering it.
- “What will it take to accomplish what is necessary?” Once we define the work, then we have to consider what the tactical issues of the work are. Suppose we decide that a minor child needs treatment for substance abuse. There are many steps between figuring this out and then actually getting them into treatment. A bunch of these steps can be taken in advance of and separate from anything the minor child is actually doing. Most people don’t pay attention to these steps. When the time actually comes to move on this work, they are unprepared. Time is lost. Sometimes the opportunity passes. Think tactically!
- “Are we willing to work together as a family?” Some family issues require all hands on deck; others not so much. This question needs to be thought through carefully.
Sometimes the definition of “family” is broad, so perhaps it would help to ask if our ‘tribe’ is willing. One thing that our NSC tribe is committed to is providing recovery resources for families in the Richmond area. Over the years our “work” and commitment haven’t changed. But as various opportunities arose, we often had to ask questions 2 and 3. Sometimes we’ve had an opportunity and ask for volunteers and had no takers. We weren’t willing to do what it would take to accomplish that particular task. That’s cool. No problem. We just said no thanks. But when we knew that more space in our building would help us offer more groups, the tribe said – let’s do it. Then we had to figure out what it would take. More money for rent. Tearing up disgusting carpet and installing new carpet. New ceilings. Demolition. And all the “accessories” – a bookshelf, a food serving station, etc. We were willing and because of that action many folks have had an opportunity to enjoy this larger, nicer space.
We weren’t absolutely certain that the project was going to work out. We were nervous that we had over-extended our reach. But we were also not paralyzed by indecision. We were honest about our insecurities but trusted the tribe when they said, “We are committed; let’s move forward.” This is an example of the necessary and interesting mix of willingness and trusting God with the results. None of it is easy, but it surely is interesting when you have a tribe to work through these issues with. Families might need to add a tribe to their discussions to help overcome learned helplessness. Fortunately, there are tribes around willing to help.