Last Thursday, in “CATHEDRALS! Part 2”, we learned three things from the construction of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: 1) We must do everything in our power to teach those we wish to support to be self-supportive by introducing them to the Source of true strength and support: Jesus Christ; 2) We must make a habit of building relationships, listening and loving unconditionally and unselfishly…not just when crisis arises, but all the time; And finally, 3) We can look to the example of God, the ultimate Father, to see that being supportive means being there for them…when it is requested!
But what if they refuse our help? How we sit back and watch while those we care about make the wrong decisions, decisions we know are not for their ultimate good, decisions that may result in harm to others?
God had an answer for me…in an unfinished cathedral!
Not all of the works of Antoni Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect and designer of the Sagrada Familia, were completed. Perhaps the most famous example of his uncompleted work can be found in a small hamlet outside of Barcelona, Colonia Güell…
The town itself was constructed around a textile factory, and company owner, Eusebio Güell, worked hard to ensure the social conditions of his workers was optimized by providing funding for cultural and religious facilities. He entrusted Antoni Gaudi with the design of the town’s church.
Gaudi considered this project to be a culminating point of his work, and its construction was to include practically all his architectural innovations. His design foresaw a two-level structure with a lower crypt and the main sanctuary above, and he planned to top the project with towers and a 40 meter central dome. Unfortunately for Gaudi, he had only completed the walls and the interior of the lower crypt when the Güell family stopped financing the venture, and without financial support, Gaudi’s work on the cathedral came to a screeching halt. A few years later, another architect put a flat roof on the uncompleted structure, and the church has popularly become known as “Gaudi’s Crypt”.
Just imagine how hard it must have been for Gaudi to abandon this culmination of his life’s work. He knew the church would never be completed, and he lived to witness the flat, ordinary top that was put on his magnificent creation. How his heart must have ached for what could have been…. Yet when his assistance was no longer requested, he had no choice but to abandon the project.
This is the lesson we can learn from Gaudi’s Crypt: When our support is no longer requested, we must let go!
But if we truly love someone, how can we just leave them to make bad decisions?
Again we must look to God our Father as our ultimate example. The Bible tells us that God created man in His image: “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move6 on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26 NET).
Notice that God specifies here that man would rule over everything on the Earth. This means that we were created to be in charge, to make our own decisions.
We also know that God placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden and told Adam and Eve not to touch it: “Then the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.'” (Genesis 2:16-17 NET).
Let’s also remember that God did not stop Adam and Eve from making the most horrible decision of eternity, one that would affect all of mankind and ultimately result in Jesus’ death on the cross. Why? Because He was giving them the choice to obey or to disobey Him. He created us to be free, to make decisions, to choose between good and evil. If He hadn’t given us this power, we would essentially be robots, doing only what we are programmed to do.
In the same way, those we wish to support are also creations of God, and God has also given them the freedom to choose. Just as it was not God’s place to intervene with Adam and Eve, and thus, was forced to sit back and allow them to make the most horrible decision of eternity, it is also not our place to intervene where we are not asked to do so. And yes, sometimes we will be forced to sit back and allow them to make bad choices; but if God, our ultimate example of a supportive Father, did not stop the first human beings from their very bad choice, then how can we, who are imperfect, claim to “know best”? When God allows us to choose between good and evil, how can we remove this from those we wish to support?
Just like Antonio Gaudi worked hard at building the cathedral in Colonia Güell, our support is to be given when it is requested. But just as he was forced to abandon this culminating work of his career, we, like Gaudi, must also stop trying to convict, assist and advise once it is no longer bidden. Yes, we know what the potential consequences might be, but just like God respects our power of choice, we must respect the rights of those we care about to make their own choices.
What will happen if we persist in forcing our support on those who have declined it? Join us on Tuesday for “CATHEDRALS! Part 4: The Cathedrals of Janovas and Mediano”.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Cathedrals! Lessons on Being Supportive” mini-series, Click here.)