“Mom, it’s true!” I emphatically responded on the phone.
She couldn’t help but giggle.
I had admitted the obvious. From about the age of 20 to 28, I had become the Christian “Miss Fix It”
I knew just enough Bible to get myself into trouble.
I could quote the verses that say “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one…”
Or my personal favorite at that time: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”
And we can’t forget, “…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him…”
Yep…I remembered just enough Bible to try to “fix” everyone else, except myself.
Someone had missed church three weeks in a row. Wasn’t it my job as a concerned church member to point that out to her?
Another friend had started wearing shirts that were revealing a bit of cleavage here and there.
Surely, I needed to take her aside and explain the concept of modesty more thoroughly.
Another friend was spending too much money, dabbling in debt and complaining more than I thought was acceptable.
She definitely needed me to approach her about the matter.
Wow…did I not see the pride in those thoughts?
But before you start thinking:
“Exactly! Friends, family and church leaders should just leave me alone!”
“What’s it to them if I’m not attending church as much as before?”
“Why should I be a radical, Christian mom?”
“Why should they care if I let my teen daughter wear a bikini?”
I’d like to add a smidgen of a disclosure.
There is a time when friends, family and church members should pull us aside and let us know we’re headed in the wrong direction.
Sometimes we do need someone to point out our constant misbehavior…just like someone pointed out my damaging mothering style that was creating a cranky toddler.
I definitely don’t want to encourage you to forget the position of your pastor and your husband in your life. Those two people are definitely “shepherds” over us. They have to “tend their flocks” and take time guide us and reprove us when we need it. It’s part of their job!
I’m truly thankful that I have both a tender, kind pastor as well as a loving and patient husband. I’m truly blessed in those areas!
But, that doesn’t mean that it’s always my job to “fix” someone else.
It also doesn’t mean that my perception or judgement on another person’s happenings are always correct.
In fact, I should think, pray and consider my own self before venturing to discuss a sensitive matter with a friend
During those “Miss Fix It” years, I often forget the verses that taught that love was long-suffering and patient.
The 31 chapters of Proverbs had become something I had only memorized, instead of something that guided my actions.
The book of Proverbs had so eloquently taught me that words, spoken in the perfect time, were truly precious and quite beautiful.
Those same proverbs instructed me that sometimes it’s better not to respond or say anything.
It all depends on the ear that’s listening.
My “Miss Fix It” years would have ended sooner if I had passionately determined to let my speech be “always with grace.”
There were oodles of times in which I neglected to follow Queen Esther’s example, who waited patiently for the perfect opportunity to share her disgruntlement with the kind’s most recent, anti-Jew decree.
She obviously saw faults in Haman — and even the king — but, she waited until the king asked her so express her desires before she blurted them out.
The lesson of waiting to speak is a powerful one!
I was too focused on the “fixing” people verses in my life that the verses on love, kindness, patience and compassion often took a back seat.
It didn’t help my “fix it” mentality when someone inflated my spiritual ego.
He told me he thought I was gifted in the area the of discernment.
He thought my impressions of individuals was accurate. That I was a “good judge of character.”
That’s a dangerous opinion to share with someone.
More often that not, we speak and act on assumptions that can truly damage relationships.
It’s not a Bible verse, but a family member often told me that people should “believe 70% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and 10% of what they hear.”
Believing that, instead of my “discernment abilities” would have helped me be more patient in my “fix it” campaigns.
Now, I’ve endeavored to focus on listening and praying more.
Yet, there are still moments when it seems as if the invisible door of “perfect opportunity” is kicked wide open to share some thoughts and truths. After resolutely quitting my “fix it” campaign I desire to carefully, tenderly, meekly and kindly tip-toe through those invisible doors, hoping not to disturb the beast of my spiritual pride.
And during those precious opportunities, God has let me see firsthand how His word — shared with love, compassion and tenderness — will bring a wandering sheep back to the fold.
Want a real-life example?
During one of our family’s ministry travels, we met a pastor’s family. The pastor’s wife and I connected quickly over several interests…cooking, baking,and my pitiful attempt at sewing.
We had just met, but enjoyed sharing mommy happenings and swapping recipes.
But sometimes there were awkward situations.
Many times during our visit she filled my ears with criticisms of her husband.
When I was with her and her husband, I observed her body language. It was always tense and irritated. Her comments were snappy and critical.
On our next-to-last day together, she finally looked at me with exasperation and declared, “I guess I’m the only one who sees faults in my husband!”
I stood there in silence; wondering what my next action should be.
She wanted a response.
And she definitely wanted an honest one.
“Alison. What do you think?”
I was nervous.
I did not want to offend her or come across as a Christian “miss fix it”. I was trying to put those days behind me. ;0)
But she was asking and desperately needing someone to be honest with her.
Guarding my words carefully, I shared my thoughts on being a Christian wife.
We’re there to love and encourage our husbands.
We’re there to cheer them up when days are tough.
Don’t worry, they will — because they’re human.
It’s not our job to point it out.
She started tearing up.
“You’re right. I’ve been so wrong.”
We knelt down and prayed for God to give her the strength to be a kind and loving wife.
We asked God to help her see the good points in her husband; instead of focusing on shortcomings.
And since that time, our friendship has blossomed.
The next time I saw her and her husband together there were obvious improvements.
Her husband was more confident.
They were both more affectionate — and even publicly flirted a few times! <3
Sometimes God does lead us to encourage our family, friends and acquaintances to change…to develop a better attitude…or to be faithful.
But that doesn’t mean we’re to search for problems.
It doesn’t mean it’s always our job to verbally reprove another person when we think they “don’t have it all together.”
What helped me stop being “Miss Fix It”?
- Trying to invest time in praying for others before I try to “fix” them.
- Asking God to create more love and patience in my heart for those around me.
- Realizing that not everyone has the same opinion on Biblical standards, and assuming I’ve come to the “correct” conclusion can often times be fruit of deeply, buried pride.
- Remembering my own faults. They’re not few in number!
- Remembering that someone “overtaken” in a fault does not equal “if someone messes up a few times.”
- Raising six human beings that all have different faults, personalities and strengths. Sometimes my kids need one-on-one time, a listening ear and heart-to-heart encouragement. Other times, they need me to give them guidance and correction.
- Trying to not take other people’s mess-ups personally. Sometimes…ahem..many times people’s misdeeds or lack of commitment to pure things has nothing to do with me! It has to do with their very own flesh —- and we all know the flesh vs. spirit battle!
But spending almost ten years as a foreign missionary wife has immensely helped me walk away from the “Miss Fix It” viewpoint.
Because I moved from the “Bible belt” (shout out to my South Carolina peeps right here!) to a place where 95% of the people worship dead ancestors and spirits. My neighbors were trying to break into our home, would often be drunk by 8 PM, blasted loud music that shook my bed and threw their garbage (oyster shells, beer cans, and even animal remains) in my trash can.
After that, surely I could be more patient with Christians who don’t “have it all together” or are a little “rough around the edges.”
Though there are still God-given opportunities for me to speak unpleasant truths — and there will be for you too — I’m much more cautious to open my mouth and fill the air with my observations.
During those times, I desire to venture forth with understanding, kindness and a hearty serving of a listening ear.
My pastor’s wife use to repeat to our ladies Sunday School class, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
The saying is simple, but holds a great life-truth.
May the rest of my days be filled with speaking the truth in love….but in God’s perfect time.
And that’s exactly why I left the Christian “Miss Fix It” attitude far behind.
Or at least try to! ;0)