A Firm Foundation

Laurie Buffo, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | January 22, 2024

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7:24-27

Is there someone in your life who you desperately want to change? When we tie our well-being to a difficult person, we often spin our wheels, hoping they will change, only to be repeatedly drawn into the same disappointing patterns.

Freedom comes when we recognize we cannot control people. We can only manage how we think about them and react to their behavior. We need to ask ourselves some questions. What are we entrusting to the person that leaves us feeling vulnerable? Are we empowering them to define who we are? Are we waiting for them to act a certain way so we can feel whole? 

The healing process starts when we accept the reality of the situation. We acknowledge the troublesome person is unable or unwilling to be who we want them to be. Then, we let go of our need to control them. We reset our expectations of them and instead entrust our well-being to God.

Think of this process like a game of Jenga. If the challenging person is a block at the base of our trust tower, our whole world tumbles down when they disappoint us. Instead, we make God the base of our tower. The more we trust Him, the sturdier our foundation becomes. If we move the troublesome person to the upper layer of our trust tower, there will only be minimal damage when they let us down. We call this detaching in love. 

Next, we examine our role in the counterproductive dance. How do we usually react to the person? For example, do we power up, pacify, practice denial, or clean up their messes? We are in a powerful place when we admit our usual reactions are ineffective. 

Once we understand our role, we can decide how to respond differently. We set a boundary. The purpose of the boundary is not to control the other person. We are simply handing responsibility for their dysfunction back to them by stepping out of our usual role in the counterproductive dance. We find relief when we let go of managing their behavior, hoping they will become someone else. Instead, we place our well-being in God’s hands.

The Bible often points out that wise people place God first in their hearts. When we put this wisdom into practice, the foolishness of others cannot derail us because we have established a firm foundation.

Next Steps

If you want to learn more about acceptance and detaching in love, consider adding a daily meditation from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie to your devotional time.