Husbands have an unfortunate reputation for being fixers.
It's pretty common for wives to express "I wish that he would JUST LISTEN, instead of just trying to fix everything!"
Men tend to get majority of the blame for this tendency, but it's been my experience that women are just as bad in this area, possibly even more so. Our temptation to fix might not mainly be in arena of marriage (or maybe it is), but rather in friendships.
Our friends and family share their struggles, and our pragmatic brains start firing on all cylinders.
Have you tried this?
Have you tried that?
Maybe if you just did this!
We tend to be so quick to go into Problem Solving Mode, offering all of the advice and personal experience and books and essential oils we can think of that could be the thing needed to resolve a hard situation.
I believe that this impulse is mostly well meaning. Someone we care about is hurting and we don't want them to be. We want them to be happy and thriving and that's a good desire. So of course we need to help them find a solution to their problem!
But I also think that there's a subconscious motivation that is less benevolent and selfless than we might be willing to admit to ourselves:
Other people's pain makes us uncomfortable.
We don't like feeling helpless or out of control. We want to BE ABLE to fix it all.
We like order and pleasure and comfort, and we spend most of the moments of our life fighting to have those. Which isn't inherently bad! On the contrary, we were created for those things!
Ecclesiastes says that God has set eternity on our hearts, so of course our souls long for a life in paradise. But until we get there, we're just not there and it's foolish to act like we are.
This world is broken and is filled with fragile, hurting people.
People who live with chronic diseases and who have lost children.
People who have mental illness and dysfunctional families.
People who feel alone in their marriages and alone in their churches.
We can't change these hard circumstances with chipper advice and emotional duct tape.
I think most of us have felt the sting of someone responding to our vulnerability with a list of fixes and solutions. It can make us shut down and feel even more alone.
And it teaches us that this person isn't a safe place to share our hearts with.
I love the way our propensity for this was portrayed in the character Joy from Inside Out. Joy kept wanting Sadness to go away so that everything could be good and happy again, but one of the main messages of the movie was that Sadness had to be involved in order for healing to take place.
When the people we love are in a season of pain and grief, we need to be less like Joy, chirping "Hey! Don't worry! It's all gonna be OK!!", and more like Sadness.
We need to sit next to someone and just be with them. Offering them compassion and empathy, and not much more.
We listen to them and cry with them and we tell them how sorry we are that they are in this.
We ask if we can pray for them and we cry out to God to carry them through this season and heal their hearts.
Entering into those spaces with compassion instead of answers takes self-control.
Entering into those spaces with the willingness to feel someone's pain with them takes courage.
And entering into those spaces takes hope and faith that God will redeem it, whether in this life or the next.
All of that is worth it to show others the love and mercy of Jesus.
There isn't one hard and painful road that we walk down, that Jesus doesn't understand or hasn't experienced himself.
There isn't any pain or fear or doubt that we have that makes Jesus uncomfortable.
His perfect ability to empathize and really weep with those weep is what our weary souls long for, and it's one of most important ways we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others.
I believe He will give us that self-control and courage and faith if we ask Him for it.
And I believe that He's faithful to give us the wisdom to discern which moments in life are the ones to encourage and advise (which there are!), and which are the ones to just be there and listen.
We should stop trying to fix things so much, because frankly, we're bad at it.
But we can trust that Jesus will fix it, and that he's good at it.
Which He has proven, over and over again.
And He has promised to never stop.