What I Learned from “Driving Miss Daisy”

by Joan C Webb on March 18, 2013

It’s hard to relax when our personal satisfaction hinges on what someone else does or doesn’t do–or does or doesn’t believe. Doesn’t he know it could work better if he just listened to my plan? Doesn’t she get it? 

If you’re a little muddled about how over-helping, perfectionism and playing God are linked, you’re not alone. I’m often puzzled, too. Even experts get confused trying to sort all this out. On occasion, God splashes light into my fogginess through humorous life predicaments. Because all the universe is under God’s domain, I’ve found He can use anything to teach, nurture and grow me. (I love how He does that!) Sometimes new insight comes from surprising venues.

Like that aha! moment I had while watching the movie Driving Miss Daisy a few years ago. The wealthy Miss Daisy and her longtime chauffeur have both aged considerably. As they discuss their situations, Miss Daisy accuses the chauffeur of continuing to drive even though his eyesight is failing. “How do you know how I can see, ‘lessen you look out my eyes?” is his response.

My immediate internal reaction: Whoa! Lord, forgive me for thinking I’m powerful enough to know another’s needs. I realize I will never see their life from their view. I want to learn to treat others with respect. Please help me.

The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, cautions us about assuming we know another human being’s thoughts and feelings: “No one can really know what anyone else is thinking, or what he is really like, except that person himself” (1 Cor. 2:11, TLB).

I’m continuing to discover the relief-filled truth that I can progressively release my need/urge to do and make it all just right for the people in my life. First step: intentionally trust God for what is not mine to control or direct. Then I can begin to enjoy living in the freedom and grace He patiently waits to give me–and others.

Just wondering: Have you ever experienced what it feels like when someone insists they know what you’re thinking, what you need and how you should resolve your dilemma?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

lynne March 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I would like to remember that I abdicated the throne, but I seem to like the role of trying to control other’s lives. But it is so exhausting!

Joan C. Webb March 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi Lynne! It’s a step by step process to letting go and finding more energy! We’re both on a journey here. And guess what?! We’re both making progress. Congrats to us! :-)

Joan C. Webb March 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

In response to this blog post, I just got the following message from Annie Wolf. She said I could share it.
Hi Joan!

The answer God has revealed to me about insisting to someone that you know what they are thinking, what they need and how they should resolve their dilemma is to Listen, Wait and maybe Encourage. Listen to what they are saying instead of what they are not saying. Wait for the person to give you permission to speak into their life. If someone is sharing a story with you it is probably because they want you to know it or that they respect your opinion. However, we often make the mistake in not listening intently or long enough and then we loose out on the opportunity or invitation. Else, you may Ask if you can share a situation from your life. People find comfort in knowing that others may have also struggled with the same thing. Else, you can tell them you will pray for them. Else, Ask if you can pray over them and then pray only the words that they shared. Do not add assumptions in your prayer. If they give you permission to share your story, then you can also Encourage them by saying what God showed you. Use scripture and point out how the verse was helpful to teach, reproof or correct your situation. Hopefully you are praying for the person whether or not you have the opportunity to share. Remember to call or write them to Ask about their situation.

Peace and Love,
Annie Wolf

Joan C. Webb March 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm

ANNIE, Thanks for your wise thoughts and insight. Asking permission is a key, I think. Not making assumptions is another. Really listening. Praying authentically and honestly and not with the intent to teach/influence or manipulate, however, nicely we try to pray it. I so appreciate your wisdom.

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