The Chronic Fixer

PopsicleIt started with a purple popsicle.

At least that’s my first memory of something that would become one of my biggest life struggles.

My sister Faith was five and I was eight, and our family had just moved to the Philippines. We were leaving church when a vendor pedaled up with his bike-mounted cooler and propped open the lid to show us his wares. Everything still felt unfamiliar, but this… This we knew. Popsicles are a universal language.

I picked a bright orange one, melon-flavored I think, and Faith chose purple. We thought it was grape. It looked grape. But in this strange, new place it turned out to be a strange, new flavor. Purple sweet potato.

Overwhelmed by too much new in one day, she dissolved into pitiful tears.

And I got mad.

I wanted to smack the vendor, make him produce what my sister wanted. Mostly I just wanted to fix the pain in her little heart.

Faith barely remembers that day, but for me it’s still sharp and clear. Because that popsicle and the tears it brought tapped into a fear that would grow until it had a strangle hold on me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of watching people I love hurt, or, even worse, hurting them myself.

Being compassionate and empathetic is good, yes. Helping when I can, listening to the brokenhearted, being Jesus’ hands to the hurting is a right and beautiful thing. Sacrificing my own comfort to serve others can be joyful obedience and worship.

But being scared of allowing others to suffer, even to the point of suffering so they don’t have to? That’s all kinds of damaging.

This has been a lifelong struggle, but only recently have I realized the unvarnished truth:

I have lived blasphemy.

I have been arrogant enough to try to fix and save and heal and play a role only the Spirit of God can fill. And I have been wrecked in a way that peels my grip loose and makes me look hard and see how I have wounded and been wounded in a fight I will never win.

So now that I see, where do I go from here?

I’m pretty sure the answer is… nowhere.

The only thing I can do now is be still.

Be still and let God be God.

Let go and let myself be held and forgiven and untangled from the things that were never mine to carry. Stay right here and lay down the pain I’ve claimed and the pride I’ve lived.

Believe in God’s goodness and breathe. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Because His goodness sometimes includes suffering. It allows for failure and struggle and long journeys home, and it doesn’t short circuit hard lessons. He restores not only in the hard things, but through them, and sometimes the best way to love someone is to sit with them and let the pain be. Real compassion means letting God work, however He needs to.

Only here, in the stunning reality that God has this and me and everyone I love, I can open my hands and let fear burn away like mist in the sunshine.

And here peace rolls in and holds this chronic fixer still while God does what only He can do.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:1-3,10 NIV)

1 Comment

  1. Jean Davis
    Jan 21, 2016

    This is a good article!

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