In life, one of the greatest struggles we face is learning how to determine what needs to be fixed and what doesn’t. Not everything in life needs to be fixed. (Reread that last sentence!)
As a preacher, leader, and a man, (or male of the species) I struggle with that last statement. Men are fixers by design. Tell us what’s wrong; we’ll fix it!
Women (and I mean no disrespect ladies) are not so. They are perfectly content to simply tell us men what their problems are and then talk about them.
All they ask in return is that we listen to them, not fix them, but listen to them. Again, as a man I struggle with this concept; it’s totally foreign to me!
Several years ago my wife, Marianne, came home from work one afternoon and she was hot under the collar about something that happened on her job. She began telling me about it and she was for evermore blowing off some steam! When she finished, I looked at her and began to tell her everything she needed to do to fix the problem.
In the midst of my diatribe against her work situation and the wonderfully astute advice I was giving her regarding what she needed to do, she interrupted by asking me,“Would you just shut up?” Now, I’m sure I looked at her dumbfounded!
Here I was giving her the magical formula for solving all her work problems and she just asked (told) me to shut up! She looked at me lovingly and said, “Sweetheart, I don’t want you to fix my problems; all I want you to do is listen to me!”
And with my ego sorely bruised and wounded, I walked off muttering under my breath something to the effect of, “Well, if you didn’t want me to fix your dumb ole problem you shouldn’t have told me about it in the first place! I’m a man. I fix things. It’s what men do!
‘Just listen to you?’ Yea right! You’re the one who needs to just listen! You need to listen to me and what I’m telling you! I could fix this for you …” However, the lesson is simple – not everything in life needs fixing!
Sometimes we stress over things because of the cosmetic imperfections associated with them. None of us wants to buy a new car only to have somebody open their car door against it the next day and put a ding in it. But here’s reality. The car doesn’t really need repairing. It will function mechanically just as well with the ding as without.
All too often the problem isn’t the ding; rather, it’s our perception of the ding. It no longer meets our standard of perfection. Therefore, its value has been diminished. It no longer presents the image we want presented!
Sadly, all too often we allow ourselves to apply this way of thinking to other people. In life, just like car doors, people get dinged. It happens to all of us! Immediately, we begin to formulate a plan to have the ding repaired. We aren’t comfortable with others being “flawed!”
It is causing our perceived value of their life to be diminished. We immediately go into “Mr. Fixer” mode. We tell them the process the ding will have to go through in order to be repaired and which repair shop they should use.
But the cold hard truth is that sometimes dinged-up people do not want or need to be repaired. They’re functioning just fine with the ding. They wear the ding as a chevron, or a badge of honor, to remind them of some adverse circumstance they encountered in life – and overcame! It inspires them to be their best! What they need from us is that we just love them – dings and all!
The takeaway of this column is very simple. While there are times and circumstances where people and things in our lives need repair, that’s not always the case.
One of the greatest values we possess as Christians is “not” in knowing “how” to repair something or somebody; it’s in knowing “when” to do so.
Not everything or everybody in life needs fixing! Sometimes people just need us to be a friend. That’s it. It’s that simple. Admittedly, it’s a hard concept for me to grasp. Pray that God would teach me this concept.