Understanding Rescue Goliaths

Understanding Rescue Goliaths


(Email responses to Silencing Goliath basically agreed with the two following emails:

Bottom line, pick your battles, be happy. H.   We do have to pick our battles, for certain! In every situation of every day there are conflicts that can develop and turn a day bad. Keep perspective; try to anticipate another's mood driving their actions or words that could escalate into an uncomfortable situation.  I find that wearing the WWJD bracelet and snapping it against my wrist helps in adjusting choices that could make or break a good day. B.)

Although causing a Rescue Goliath normally begins with caring, kind and helpful intentions, lurking in the shadows is a crafty villain which gradually destroys any vestige of positive communication, replacing it with resentment—the giant destroyer of relationships.

“Why did you choose each other?” is a primary question I ask a new couple who comes for counseling which garners unbelievable reasons: “He had a beautiful new car.” “I enjoy her family.” “She likes to cook.”   “I was tired of the pressure at home.” “We needed to save money on rent.” His apartment was closer to my job.” “She was pregnant,” plus many more along those lines. However, moving in together to solve problems becomes a problem itself because of the long-term effects of rescue.

Rescues do not disappear automatically but will eventually come back to haunt, creating serious relationship problems. The wisest move is to receive guidance beforehand from a therapist or marriage counselor to analyze, acknowledge and understand the potential problems that are likely to accompany rescues, and agreeably take necessary measures to put it to rest as the following example reveals.

Julia, a single person holding two degrees for a well-paid position with demanding long hours is emotionally strangled while helping Bud, a special guy friend who asks for ‘loans’ to purchase apartment and office needs because his entrepreneurial dream business hasn’t taken off, yet. “After an hour’s drive, bringing lunch and paying his bills, with plans to spend the day with him, Bud says, ‘I want you to leave; I have lots of work to do.  I don’t have time to run around.’ This is disappointing and hurtful”, she said with tears streaming.  “It also makes me very angry because I’ve also had a hard week and need some down time and a bit of fun. But I leave.”

“After a week or so,” Julie continues, “Bud texts and urges me to come because he’s lonely and misses me.  As soon as he is feeling emotionally and financially restored, he says bluntly, that he’s tired and doesn’t want me around. I never know where I stand with him. I feel like a paddle ball, she said. “He draws me in and quickly smacks me away.  Yet, Bud says he loves me.”

When I told her that her problem is an example of how rescue affects a relationship, that when a rescued person gets his/her feet on the ground that they vanish physically or emotionally, made sense to her because that’s exactly what has been going on for several years. “I’ve given him thousands of dollars”, Julie moaned. “I sincerely hope to get married in the near future.”

Julie acknowledged that she hasn’t ever felt good enough or appreciated by Bud but puts up with abusive manipulation because she likes him and he assures her that she’s making him happy. By continually rescuing him financially and emotionally, then watching him reject her physically, she has chosen to create a villain—a Rescue Goliath.

“I want him to be happy. So, how can I help him?” She pleaded. When I suggested, “Get a ticket to Switzerland and stay several months,” she kind of jerked. “You mean cut it off?”  “Yes. For a while.  That sounds mean, but for his own good, he needs time to come to terms with who he really is and understand that he is responsible for his own happiness. You can merely casually contribute to his happiness.  As long as he’s financially dependent on you or anyone, he will be emotionally crippled and robbed of personal satisfaction. When he experiences confidence and pride from his own achievement, he will be happy and ready for marriage.

Many of us can look back regarding our need to be rescued financially, physically or emotionally supplying encouragement that helped us to catch our breath during a difficult time, for which we are forever grateful. We urge people not only to be generous in helping those with special needs but also to be wise to avoid becoming enablers which hurts the rescued in the long run.

Brain-storm whether a villain Rescue Goliath has developed based on whether those who’ve been helped ignore you until another need arises. Run a check on expectations that you put on yourself as well as unhealthy expectations that have developed. It’s not a sin to end giving but many soft-hearted people experience feelings of guilt. Guilt feelings often follow ending long-term assistance or even long-term service club membership. But those are false guilt feelings to be ignored.

True guilt involves lying, stealing, etc. and not keeping the rest of the ten commandments.  Jesus taught a new commandment to love others as we love ourselves, which requires practice the rest of our lives because it involves how we treat others and the use our time, money, expertise and possessions.  So, true guilt could result in being able to help another but doing nothing.

Many seniors suffer with feelings of guilt because they have physical and financial limitations. I encourage them to do what you can, as long as you can, maintaining generous attitudes of being helpful and encouraging to others as you are able and lucid.

Answering the question from the rich young ruler: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus said, “The most important one is this, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself; There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 (NIV).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6,7 (NIV).

Questions, responses to blogs and general comments are always welcome.