As I have been navigating valleys with people I love, I have been thinking a lot about cause and effect and the appropriate times to intervene and not intervene in others situations. I have been thinking about how hard it is to watch other suffers and how much we seek to protect those we love from the heartaches and pains of life.

While I am not a parent, I watch a lot of parents and there seems like no other relationship where this issue seems more relevant and challenging. The job of parents is to train children so they have the skills for adulthood and the challenges it will inevitably present. This seems to be a delicate balance of both letting them experience natural consequences and trying to prevent disasters that will cause unrecoverable damage. I honestly have no idea how parents live this life of having your heart live uncontrollably out of your chest!!

There are the obvious moments of pulling a child out of the line of traffic that could kill them or something similarly permanent. Yet there are also times a child must experience the consequences of actions so they learn how to respond for themselves in situations when a parent is not there to help them. Where these lines are drawn are the subject of thousands of books. Different time and cultures have answered them differently and always probably will.

When I was a child, I was very sheltered and my parents attempted to shield me from many experiences. I am certain they protected me from many things, but there are also important skills I did not learn. When I moved out of my home at 18, there were skills that I was unknowingly lacking. While everyone has limited tools at this age, mine led me to expose myself to some situations that I was not equipped to handle.

I do not have blame for this realization. My parents gave me the tools they had, and the ones they thought would be important. They could neither give me what they did not have, or know the importance of some that they tried to protect me from ever having to know.

As I think about cause and effect, I am reminded of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. When I take actions in life they have impact on others, often whether they know about them or not. My lies and secrets still have impact on the quality of relationships in my life and cause ripple effects until they are ultimately exposed and resolved.

How often on my addiction I tried to control things, or tried to manage an outcome. I wanted to avoid hurting others, avoid bringing judgement and punishment to myself and any number of other reasons I protected my addiction. But ultimately there was no escaping the simple facts of cause and effect, karma, or reaping what I had sewed. Sometimes secrets can stay buried for years and people seem to get away with things from my limited perspective. But I do not believe it is ever possible to escape these simple laws of nature.

But I also think it is important to be aware of when I need to allow cause and effect to play out in the life of another. While I will always intervene in a situation that seems likely to cause the death or severe injury of another, it otherwise seems better for me to offer support and suggestions, but not actually step into the line of the event that is unfolding.

When I intervene I might stop something before it has the power to complete the work God knows that it’s needs to do in the life of another. I might also push it further and create an ultimate reaction that is deadly and un-fixable when it’s consequences ultimately burst with equal and opposite force.

I do not offer answers or conclusions on exactly how to handle any specific situation. I simply offer observations and my own processing about situations in my own life.