Hi. My name is Maria and I’m a fixer.
I’ve got some analytical part of my brain that is always dissecting the things around me to figure out how to make them better. I like short-term projects for this very reason. When I get pulled into long-term projects I often find myself looking for ways to make the processes already in place better, creating short term goals for myself. The long-term maintenance, once things are running smoothly, bores me to tears. Thus, I fix, fix, fix.
And it doesn’t stop there.
I sometimes catch myself doing this in my relationships.
Also, because I’m Southern, I’m pretty much fixin’ to do everything.
Tonight I tuned into a simulcast training event from MOPS International with a friend. I guess I was expecting really practical step by step guides and project planning for the coming year. Isn’t that what training usually consists of? What I got was something totally different.
My takeaway from the evening was a simple reminder about the importance of developing relationships for the purpose of loving others. And the best way to love others is to love Jesus first, then allow that to pour over into all of our other relationships. And also, technology is a beast, especially when thunderstorms are rolling through your neck of the woods.
I’ve had many years of “Lifestyle Evangelism” training thanks to my time in MOPS leadership. Relational lifestyle evangelism takes time and it looks a lot like love and coffeeshop conversations and nothing like knocking on the doors in a neighborhood and handing out tracts to strangers. Relational evangelism says I love you just as you are right now rather than laying out all the ways a person needs fixing.
Have you ever had a friend with many needs and problems? Have you ever been in charge of leading a group of people?
I have. And it’s so easy to start thinking of those relationships as to-do lists.
I start thinking if I can get this person to read this book, then we’ll have a meaningful discussion in which I will share my experiences. Then I’ll be able to show them how to get out of this stinky situation they’ve gotten into. And then I’ll do x, y and z to help them get started. Or I get caught up thinking “I have to do this, that and the other thing for our meeting on Friday,” planning an agenda to the minute and executing it perfectly, but forgetting about the actual people in the room.
I think I often use this as a coping mechanism … my tendency to fix. I search for a way to fix any given relationship, to fix the person or their problems, or to make the group meeting run smoothly; those require the analytical part of my brain to be fully engaged. And they allow my heart to hide from hard truths.
As much as I would love to give each of my friends a fairy tale happy ending, I cannot. As often as I wish I could wave a magic wand and give someone the winning lottery ticket or a rich uncle (Hey … I’ll take one too, thankyouverymuch!) it’s never gonna happen.
I’ve been studying Job lately. If ever a man has had every problem on the face of the earth all at one time it was him. When his world came crashing down, and his wife said “Why don’t you just curse God and die?” (because obviously she was not bitter at all) his friends came and sat down with him. They said nothing, merely choosing to be present and to mourn alongside him. And I wanted to pat them on the back for being such loving, understanding friends.
But then they tried to fix him. They analyzed everything he might have done wrong. They listed every possible way to fix the situation. And they made a big old fat mess of that relationship, leaving Job to feel more alone and distraught than ever. They lost sight of the person he was, in desperate need of love and grace, and saw instead a list, a to-do, a set of tasks and a problem to be solved.
Sometimes our friends just need us to sit down beside them and grieve their loss. They don’t need us to understand or to sort out how or why they got in this situation or are going through this trial. They don’t need our commentary on their woes or our finely honed analytical skills. Sometimes we need to remember the ones we are serving need our presence rather than our perfection. They need us to remember that they are not a problem to be solved, but a person to be loved.