My kids are growing up. They have been breaking things since they were very young. The baby broke our DVD player a couple months ago. My second born took a toy apart earlier this week. Today I saw the youngest girl trying to put a pair of play shoes back together.
So far I have been able to fix most of the things they break, but they have started to try and fix it on their own. Most of the time they are trying to hide it from me, but occasionally they are trying to emulate me. One of the other kids will break something so the older two try to fix it for them. As far as I know they haven’t been all that successful yet, but I only get to see the failed attempts so who knows.
Tuesday Kathy (@katdish) wrote a post on patience that was … disturbing? Well, frustrating at least. Her post wasn’t frustrating so much as the truth within it and how impotent it makes so many of us feel.
Wednesday Kathy and I tweeted back and forth for a bit about what we can do for people stuck in abusive situations. For me I am bound by law when it comes to minors. If I suspect abuse of someone under the age of 18 I have to report it to the state. I don’t get the luxury of trying to decide if it is abuse or a teen spouting off. I have to call it in and let the state sort it out. I’ve had to do this twice but in both situations nothing happened. In one of the situations I really didn’t feel that the call was warranted, but in the other I feel that abuse was happening.
I don’t know what kind of follow-up happened when I called. Maybe they looked into the situation and found proof that nothing had happened. Maybe the information went in a file where it sits waiting for another report. I do know it is frustrating, no it is disheartening.
I am a fixer. My kids know it. When I was their age I started trying to fix my own toys and to be honest I failed a lot, but I learned and got better. As I got older I would see people that needed fixing and I’d try to help. Now I am a pastor and fixing is kind of my job. I see my students that are broken and want to repair them. I want to move the world to change their lives.
Yesterday as I was talking with Kathy I realized something. I can’t fix broken people. I am like my older kids trying to fix things for the younger kids. I see my students and want to make them better, but I can’t because the brokenness goes far beyond the situation they are in. My kids trying to fix things see that the outside isn’t right and will try to put it back together, but inside there are gears that have been knocked loose and so even if the outside is repaired the inside is still broken. Eventually my kids bring it to me and I fix it.
See, it turns out I have a Daddy that sees me trying to fix things and wants to help. He sees that I’m working on situations but He wants to reach down an take care of the inside. He brings new life where once there was death. He makes us into new people instead of just trying to glue the shattered pieces back into place.
It seems like such a small thing, but when we see people who are broken and hurting we have to start by praying for them. Asking for God to come on the scene and breathe life is like when my kids come to me asking for help. He does expect us to be His ambassadors though. We represent Him to the people we interact with. We actually get to help.
Yes, it is disheartening to see people in situations that are too big for us, but it is encouraging to know the God that is bigger than any situation and to be used by Him to speak life.
Who is God calling you to? What is He asking you to do? How can you work for Him right now? What is He fixing in you?
It is a hard lesson to learn. Not just in these situations but in everything. It’s about surrendering control and admitting that we can’t fix people. We can’t even fix ourselves. We just have to do what we can to allow God to be the fixer. Still frustrating, though.
Nick the Geek says
Yeah it is a lesson I constantly forget and then get angry about because my efforts seem to fall flat. God is good enough to keep giving me mercy though.
Ryan Tate says
Great honesty here. Thank you. A constant reminder that I need is that I don’t have to be capable of everything.
Nick the Geek says
Thanks, yeah it is a real struggle for me. I keep trying to be God to people, well I keep trying to do the things God is supposed to do which is that same thing and pretty prideful. Oops.
Most nurses feel the same way – they want to fix people, but in a different way that you do (sorta). I get so frustrated when people take poor care of themselves and end up in my care, only to return again in a year or two for the exact same reason. I’m gradually learning I just can’t make choices for them, but it’s taken me a very long time. I can’t make them eat right, I can’t make them stop smoking any more than I can get you to use a NetiPot. The only thing I can do is pray for them. Pray that something that I say “sticks” (and often it does, praise God). That’s how God has “fixed” me in a small part of my life – by being more accepting, making me a little wiser, and giving me an awareness that I must practice what I preach and wield a gentle hand in my attempted “fixes.” After all, I’m not the boss of them, but I can certainly pray to the One who is.
Nick the Geek says
yeah and I still don’t like the idea of a neti pot, but I did see the dentist and get the actual problem resolved so far as I can tell. This year hasn’t been one long sinus infection at least.
Great post, Nick.
I had the same need to make things all better when I was teaching. There are lots of angry children out there, who have reason to be angry. I had to constantly put their situation before God. Sometimes I saw the result of my prayers. Sometimes I didn’t.
But I never stopped getting frustrated at seeing them hurt. That doesn’t go away. Sorry.
Nick the Geek says
Thanks, I share your frustration and I pay for most of my kids every day. I even pray for a lot of the ones I’ve only met once or twice and don’t know their names. I’m very visual so I remember their faces and stuff. Kinda weird I guess praying to God for that boy that came that was wearing that jacket with the frayed tassels (btw this is not an actual description) but I figure He knows who I’m talking about.
Sherry Meneley says
Great story and segue into such an obvious comparison.
Sometimes during our Small Group prayer time, I have to stop others from trying to resolve the prayer requesters issue/problem. I’ve tried to point out that in our talking about the problem and coming up with a plethora of solutions prior to prayer that we are demonstrating to God that we are going to try and solve this on our own: AKA: we don’t give God the first right to fix this issue in His way.
I’ve even been so bold as to say, “why do we even need to pray if we are going to fix this ourselves?” (clearly those are the nights I get a little frustrated and over vocal, not my finer moments)
Personally – I think God is asking me to focus on prayer, faith, and trust. Seems simple, but has felt overwhelming.
Nick the Geek says
I tend to be the person that starts working on things before consulting God. I felt convicted about it to the point that I try to pray about everything I do even if it seems like a small thing. I am working against a lifetime of habit so I’m not always successful, but I read about Israel going to battle without consulting God first and things going really bad even if it looks good for them before the battle on paper.