There is this saying I learned in recovery, and it will stick with me the rest of my life. This phrase resounds in my head, “that’s not your side of the street.” It’s about boundaries – I am learning to stick to my side of the street. When I try to own what is not mine, I violate my boundaries and those of others. These words are sometimes hard to hear because I’m a fixer. I want to make things better, but that doesn’t often work. I have no control over anything. Of course, I can control my attitude and my response, but overall, there’s nothing that I can do to manipulate or coerce things or people in order to meet my will. I used to have a hard time with this up until recently – this business of leaving things alone that don’t belong to me.
You remember Jesus walking with the disciples upon his resurrection? Peter has just been reconciled to Christ after his infamous denial. Jesus restores Peter, asking him “do you love me? Feed my sheep” verses 15-17. It’s what follows that never really made sense to me. Jesus tells Peter about the kind of death he would die but that he should follow Him. Peter being Peter wanted to know what the outcome would be for another disciple, but you see, Jesus wasn’t talking about anybody else’s business to Peter. Jesus was talking to Peter about only Peter and Peter keeping his eyes solely on Christ. Here was the Lord’s response to Peter’s “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Harsh.
I thought these were some hard words to hear, but I never really “got” why until I began the process of recovery. I cannot afford the worry of what God is leading someone else to do. I cannot worry about how other people are rightly or wrongly living their lives. Whenever we are confronted with the reality and the truth of who we are, we tend to want to cover it up; or we pretend it’s not so bad. Some of us even point the finger in the other direction in hopes of throwing people of the trail, but not so with God. I realize now that it is for my benefit. To keep my eyes on Jesus is the goal. To look neither to the left nor the right is His command to me so that I might not fall away or get caught up in what does not belong to me. So these words, “what is that you” follow me into every area of my life.
It’s not my side of the street to figure out how someone else should live. It’s not my side of the street to take up an offense that is not mine. It is not my side of the street to try and take on someone else’s responsibility. It is not my side of the street to direct the traffic of someone else’s life. God calls me into accountability for the life that I live – not someone else’s life. Harsh? No. Good discipline? Yes. For when I stick to my side of the street and keeping it clean, I can stay in right relationship with God and with others. When I stick to my side of the street, I have better clarity and objectivity. When I stick to my side of the street, I can hear from God clearly. When I stick to my side of the street, my heart remains loyal, focused, and in tune with Christ. It keeps me in communion with my Lord. “Follow me” is the whisper I hear in my heart when all heck is breaking loose. His voice to follow Him is what I hear when I see injustice done to His beloved. God is just. He knows. God is merciful, and He will restore.
So what about you? Can you hear it in your heart beckoning you to return to your first love? Can you hear it in your soul this call to commit all of your life to Him. Don’t get caught up in what does not belong to you. Just think of Christ’s words to Peter, “what is that to you.” He desires all of you – heart, mind, and soul – undivided. In Christ you will not be disappointed.