People make bad decisions (well, really dumb ones. A lot of really dumb ones) or they just have a lot of pain and hurt. And they bring it up (like all the time). And it becomes drama.
It gets to the point where we’re sick of all the drama. And we check out.
A few weeks ago, I started seeing on Facebook this saying “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” It’s supposed to mean in essence “Not my problem.” It’s becoming to be associated with dealing with other people’s drama they bring into your life. You don’t want to deal with it, therefore it’s not your problem. The circus gives the idea of a show, a spectacle, something put on with a lot of showy-ness and sequins. Toss in a bunch of monkeys most likely running a muck, well, then it’s a showy spectacle of chaos. And you don’t want anything to do with it.
I did some research (okay, a combo of Google and Wikipedia). Wikiquotes doesn’t have it listed under Polish proverbs though in the discussion threads of the interwebs people do attribute it to a Polish proverb. One commenter on a website said that in some ways, this is a rude saying, basically telling the person to shove off and leave you alone (my interpretation of the comment in the thread that is).
What gets me is that people in the US basically don’t want to deal with other people’s drama. They’re sick of it. It isn’t their problem so therefore they don’t want it in their lives. And in some ways, I totally agree. You don’t want to get sucked into the life of someone who perpetually makes very bad and pretty dumb decisions and then comes running to you for help. Some people need to understand healthy good boundaries because they cross them way too many times. It is good to set up ways not to get sucked into someone’s bad lifestyle and bad choices.
The Psalmist writes:
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Psalm 1:1
In other words, stay out of drama. Don’t get involved with stupid people who do stupid things.
The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about that:
“Doing wrong is like sport to a fool” Proverbs 10:23 (NRSV)
“Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Fools mock at making amends for sin.” Proverbs 14:7-9
And it goes on like that. There’s lots of good advice for avoiding drama.
At the same time, paying attention to those going through drama is important as well. First and foremost, they are people. They need our respect and love. Many times people going through drama are going through it because there is a need for love in their lives. There is a void there. A void lacking a fulfilling love, a love that enhances and builds up. And in saying “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” not my problem, we are pushing people away in need of a love far greater than ourselves.
We like having problem free lives. We like having messy free lives. We want our lives to be free from pain and sorrow and misfortune. Yet life is messy. It’s pretty messed up to tell the truth. People do stupid things. People make bad decisions. And people do suck the life and energy out of us. There are times to set up healthy boundaries.
Yet boundaries also have gates. And we can learn when to open those gates and show a deep love to those who need that void in their lives filled. That love is a love found in Jesus. A great love. A love far amazing.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
The next time drama happens, the next time someone with a drama filled life comes into your sphere and personal space, near your boundaries, ask yourself, is it a moment to truly lay down your life in love for this person who is desperately in need of the love of Jesus? There are times where yes, we avoid the monkeys at the circus. There are other times where we embrace the monkeys and enter into the circus to lay down our lives to show the love of Jesus to others who so deeply need it in their lives.
Where can you join the circus and be present in the life of others?