So this is it. I am going to fix you.
Or at least, I want to.
We are sitting across a table, and you are staring at me, telling me how you feel. You say you’re scared and ashamed and empty. You’ve run out of options and you don’t know what to do anymore. And yet to me, you are brave.
I feel a sort of squeezing deep inside of my chest as you say this, and I feel scared and anxious, too. I could almost throw up I’m so nervous. Because I know after this, after you’ve courageously splayed your heart across this table, reaching out for someone to finally see you, it will be my turn.
And I will need to fix you.
I know that as a Christian, this is what I’m supposed to do. Naturally.
Because if I am to embody Jesus, if I am to show you who Christ is, it is entirely up to me to fix you. I must leave our conversation confident that I, Aliza Naomi Latta, have defeated your demons. That I have single-handedly conquered your darkness.
I must leave with absolute certainty that you are going to be okay. And if you do not leave okay, it will be solely my fault.
I need to save you, or at least cover up your pain so it appears that you are mended. If your pain is too great, or your story too scary, I can rip open a band-aid and cover it up. I can place it gently on your raw, open wounds, smoothing out the edges so it’s hidden and concealed. I can wash my hands, smile at you, say, “All better,” tell you I’ll be praying, and walk away.
And in my eyes, you’re healed. In my eyes, I healed you.
But in my heart, I feel you’re still cracked and splintered. And I feel cracked and splintered, too. In my heart, guilt comes like a tidal wave, hissing that I have let you down, that I haven’t really saved you. In applying this quick ‘n easy band-aid fix, I have made you and your struggle into something small and insignificant, when in reality you’re crucial to this world.
And this? This is the truth: I want to fix you, I feel like I’m supposed to fix you, but I can’t. It’s an impossible feat.
Only the Savior of the world can do the saving.
Jesus never asked me to fix you. I kindly took that upon myself, assuming it was my utmost Christian responsibility, that it might make Jesus proud.
But when I think about it, when I set aside my savior complex and actually think about it, I realize something: maybe you didn’t want to be fixed after all.
Maybe you want to be listened to.
Maybe you want to be prayed for, but also over, and alongside, and during all those times when you can’t seem to find the words.
Maybe you want me to hold up your weary arms when you feel as if you’re falling.
Or dive into the deep end when you feel as if you’re drowning.
Or whisper my sincere and utter belief in you when you feel as if you’re worthless.
And maybe, maybe that’s what I can do. Though I wish I could plunge headfirst into your crevices, fill and occupy all your vacant spaces, make it so you’ll never know emptiness again, I can’t. And I won’t. And yes it’s true that Jesus didn’t ask me to fix you, but he did ask me to love you.
So perhaps, I can love you instead.
I can hear you.
I can see you.
And I can be here, with you, right across the table.
Photos by Seth Reffell
PS. To all of you who want to fix someone…
Know this: It is not your job to save them. You are not at fault if they are still hurting after your conversation. It’s not a bad or terrible thing that you want to fix them — to me this shows how you deeply care. God may have placed you in their life for a distinct reason, and maybe you’re the only one they’ve ever felt has really listened.
If you feel guilty about not “saving” them, know that the guilt doesn’t come from God. You are not a bad person, or contrary to what I believed, a bad Christian. God loves you, and he loves them, and he doesn’t guilt people into doing anything. You might be the first person they’ve talked to about this — which means they trust you — and truthfully, sometimes that can feel scary.
I’m proud of you already. This isn’t easy. And know this, too: I believe in you.
Leave a Comment
Do you ever feel like it is your job to “fix” someone? What are some tangible ways you can instead pour out love onto someone who is hurting?
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
To answer your question, yes! I believe as a mom I have this built in mechanism that wants to fix things for my children. When my children were little, it was easy to “fix” their problems. Put a band aid on it, kiss it, and it’s all better. But, as they get older and their problems more complex, it becomes more and more difficult to do. I believe God has a purpose in not allowing up to fix others problems, particularly those of our children, because then we are robbing them of the opportunity to depend deeply on their Savior. Our job, I believe, is to point them toward Him.
Instead, I can listen, grab their hands and pray for them and over them right then and there. There is power in the name of Jesus and when we call on Him audibly the enemy has to flee. I can lift them up with texts and notes and by asking questions. All the ways you listed to hold up each other are right on target. What a powerful post and a great reminder to me, as a mom, wife and friend, that it is not my job to fix everyone. Beautifully written…
Hello, I am Kristen and I am guilty of being a fixer! Your post called me out and set me free. When approached with a problem, my first reaction is “how can I fix this?” and if I can’t then I get frustrated and feel like a failure. But, the truth you have shared totally knocks that feeling of failure out of the park! As a Christian, I am not called to fix everyone’s problems, no that’s the Saviors job… To save ! I’ve been in the way this whole time, wow! But, I’m stepping aside and embracing this freedom that I’m not supposed to have all the answers , because He does! Thank you!
I am a fixer too but I like to think of it as a peacemaker or encourager 🙂 Happy weekend!!
Thank you for this post. It articulates so well how I felt when I was on the other side-the person who was pouring out her heart. Several years ago I was not only going through a crisis of faith, but I was also struggling with an eating disorder and severe depression. When I finally opened up to a couple of friends they tried to do what you said, cover things up with a band-aid, pretend things weren’t that bad, and/or “fix” me with their christian-ease language. But the one friend who I turned to again and again, who helped me through that dark time, and who to this day is one of my best friends, is the one who just listened. She gave me hugs when I needed it, sat up late with me when I couldn’t sleep, ate meals with me when I needed support, and told me that even though I didn’t believe in God right then that she was praying for me. She didn’t try to fix me or cover up my problems. She was there for me and showed me Christ’s love through her actions. Years later looking back, it was Christ living through her that helped me get the help I needed and brought me back to Christ.
I am in the midst of really really hurting and I have told my firends, how terribly lonely I am and that I feel that they don’t really care. I’ve -just gone thru a 2nd divorce, both husband’s cheated, my last husb. mentally abused me, stole most of our $ & investments. I lost my home, job, pet, had a heart attack from stress. had to re-locate to a new state to live w/family. My new church friends basically just say “I’ll pray for you”” when all I really want is just some friends to talk to, to feel like I matter to someone, that I feel Loved…I am depressed from all my past losses and I find it incredibly sad that people say they are Christians, yet can’t reach out to a sister in Christ that is telling them, that they are hurting, lonely, & sometines just wanting to die. I am not asking them to FIX me, I just want a friend period, just to talk to. So Sisters In Christ out there. Please Please don’t ignore another person that is hurting and just asking for a friend to talk to.. If Jesus was right in front of them, he would tell them to Love me & just be a friend, because GOD created us to be in relationships with one another & no one should have to feel unloved, lonely, hurting and forgotten. Any sugguestions from anyone out there on what more could say or do?
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Kim J says
So perhaps, I can love you instead.
I can hear you.
I can see you.
And I can be here, with you, right across the table.
Yes, that is what I need most of the time, someone to show up and just be there. When I was first diagnosed with chronic illness and all the emotions that go with it, all I really wanted was someone to say “I will journey with you through this”. I personally did not want someone to fix me, but to love me through it, and fortunately I have some friends who have braved the storm with me, and for that I am forever grateful. Wonderful post today, Thank you.
Sunny faith says
Wow, your words are so timely, and like an arrow, they hit the target of my heart. Just recently a young woman in our church family really needed “fixing”, and I did everything BUT the right thing. All she really needed was someone to listen, someone to pray with. So now we meet in the park, under a lovely canopy of trees. Her young children play on the swings while I am there for her 100% present listening, loving, praying, and being a true friend, a non-judgemental, safe place for her story. Jesus does the fixing, and often, it is BOTH hearts he is fixing! Lol.
Carrie Smith says
Such a wonderful reminder of the truth that JESUS is our Savior and in the freedom we have through Him, we love others. We don’t fix others. We can’t even fix ourselves! 🙂
Brings to mind John 8:31-36, where Jesus tells us the truth will set us free and that He will remain with us forever.
Beautiful. Thank you, Aliza.
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
Sometimes I think we just want someone to help us carry our burden and we don’t really expect others to be able to fix it, but we do want them to be there for us.
If I share a difficulty with someone and they immediately start firing off what I should do, I think to myself, why did they answer so quickly when they haven’t even had time to think about it or ask for wisdom or pray. If they waited and came back to me later with some advice, then I would more readily receive it.
Mrs "T" says
Some days I feel like the fix-er and some days the fix-ee. But, in the end, I know the only One who can help is Jesus, my Lord and Saviour.
I feel so privileged that He has placed me in the lives of so many loved ones to encourage, love and pray for them. Sometimes it’s overwhelming,
but, compared to what they are going through, my problems are so miniscule. Thank you for your wise insight, little one.
I love you dearly: Mrs “T” xo
I so needed to see this article this morning. My husband is so angry at the world, at life, at God, at just everything. I know I can’t “fix” him that only God can but I get so tired of being the object of his anger while he works it out. I just feel like if I “fix” his problem he will quit crapping all over me. This article reminds me that I need to take it to God as well and only He can heal my broken spirit and the pain that is infected one by others.
I’d just note that, in general, I’d *love* to be *actually* fixed… but when you’re saying “yeah, and the waiting list for this open-heart surgery is really, really long, and it’s going to be super-expensive, too”, the last thing you need is for the person you’re talking to to say not-as-a-joke that, well, they’ve got a steak knife and wikipedia and, like, some sewing skills from 4th grade Home Ec and they’re sure they can do it for me today if I do really want the surgery done sooner…
Aka, yes, I really do want to *be* fixed/healed/unbroken. No, in general, people can’t do it and they should not try to cover that fact up or have a go with their steak knife.
Liz Curtis Higgs says
To be so young, and yet so wise! Bless you, darling Aliza, for helping us see what we truly are called to do–love one another. Not save, not fix, not repair. Love.
Sigh…oh yes. I am a recovering fixer who is still at times tempted but after caring deeply and getting in over my head and having to step back which resulted in the relationship ending, I am more into blessing nowadays rather than fixing because I am more aware and perhaps still healing. Thank you for your transparency. I try to repeat the words of Bilky Graham to myself frequently…”It’s God’s job to judge, Jesus’job to save, and my job to love.”
Ann Graham says
“I am more into blessing nowadays than fixing”
I love that perspective, so helpful. Thanks Vicki, and may The Lord bless you abundantly as you bless others.
Think caring would be a more appropriate stance I would take unless I was close to the person. Then of course love the person.
I tend to be careful ……. with those I do not know.
Help. I would help.
There are so many in pain and suffering and we learnt today that it will always be like that until JESUS return.
I do not have the answers but it’s good to be of some help.
And love those deep in my heart.
What should we do when the person who truly needs to be “fixed” (as all of us do, in some way) is basically pretending to want to be fixed and hiding behavior that proves otherwise? I have loved and loved a friend who is like this. She knows what I think, what I believe, how much I love her and yet she has used this against me. She is a chameleon that becomes whatever she thinks others want to hear so she can control them. She plays the victim while victimizing those who love her. I have reached a place that, in order to remain sane, I must pray for her from afar. It breaks my heart, but I cannot be close to her anymore. I can do nothing for her, not even listen to her lies, when she is seemingly content to live in them. I am mourning this relationship, but there is nothing to preserve. Sometimes, we are brought to a place where we really have to let go and pray God has the answers we cannot provide.
Thank you for this. I spent last night’s high school Friday night game talking with a friend who is going through a lot of the same things that I am. (I watched my boys when they played, but missed most of the game!) My first instinct was to actually DO something for her. When I came home, I immediately prayed for her. I realize now that’s about all that I can do. Especially since I’m facing a multitude of problems myself. I will leave it in God’s hands and believe that He will pull my friend (and me) through .
Doreen Skedeleski says
I recently went through the darkest valley of my life and when I shared with my friend, she cried too and said, “I hate that you are going through this”. Those heartfelt words helped me more than all the advise I was given.
Martha Reynolds says
I don’t often feel as though I can fix any one else because I am most of the time worrying about how to fix my own messes – & they are many. I have been unable to see a way out – until your post. I am not supposed to fix anyone else, most especially myself. I am not supposed to have the answers – only Jesus has those answers & the ability to make everything “right” & inline with the will & plan of Our Father in Heaven. “Thank you” to all of you who have been obedient to God in sharing your struggles & pointing me back to the only one who can “fix” me.
Thank You Gracious Redeemer, Savior and Father for soothing and encouraging me through Aliza and her message today. Please bless her and all the others who receive this today. You are great, good and oh so patient with us all. Hallelujah, bless Your Holy Name.
Ro elliott says
Oh… I am a recovering fixer… For me having all the answer kind of person… I agree with Liz… What a blessing to get this so young. For me God showed me my need to fix was based in my lack of trust in Him… I wanted more instant results …relief from the pain for others… It tested my faith to trust God when I walked with someone who was walking the dark night of the soul. So I had to quietly wrestle my own struggles with God as I watch those I love suffer… or be slow in seeing truth. As I stepped back… Grow in my own relationship…my words can be transformed from being theory in my life…into a known reality… When I did speak… My words carried hope in who God is…not so much in how He was going to work. I believe this is a on going process… The deeper we go with God… The deeper and long we can sit in pain and uncertainty with others… Aliza, great encouragement here.
Ok so first, I love that verse in The Voice . . . “deeply and fully” . . . because love can be almost surface-level at times but we’re called to a deeper, fuller love as modeled by Jesus. Love that.
I think it’s second nature for us to give advice, trying to help in the tangible ways that we only know how. But you’re so right–sometimes we’re called to simply listen and love. I know there have been times I didn’t want a solution or someone to try to fix me per se . . . I knew I needed Jesus to work in me and He was, but it was a slow process. I just needed a shoulder to cry on, ears to hear me. Sadly, I’ve done the same though so thank you for this reminder, especially as I know many around me are struggling. May I seek God’s wisdom as to what they need and leave Him to do the work, whether through me or not.
its really a risk to handle someone who is hurting because sometimes our expectations of their healing and getting over are greater than the love and concern we have of them. they are too sensitive to be able to sense if after all the risk of opening up wounds they can end up hurting all the more because here comes the another and the usual person who is not really there to listen and be there but ugh… pretend to listen and get information but just leave things hanging… all they need is not really the fixing but the assurance that they found a friend who cares and loves and is ready to pray and journey with them until the right time comes and everything will be alright. we hope that before we allow a person to reveal hurts to us, we are ready to love and accept them first.
I have truly felt that so many times, “Lord please give me the words that will ease the pain, provide wisdom, alleviate their anxieties because oh, how I feel their emotions. And yet…I think about all the times I have poured my heart out to someone and when they reply with words that they hope will help, sometimes it plunges me deeper because I can tell they really didn’t hear me because what they say is really all about themselves.
I think the greatest thing we can do sometimes, is just let a person tell their story, no matter how many times and different ways they need to tell it. Sometimes in telling the story, a person will finally hear what they are really experiencing and will find a way just because someone has validated them instead of trying to fix them. But on the listening end, we need to be fully listening with all our heart and soul and mind and, at that moment, become part of their story and their life. We need to step out of our world and in to theirs and leave our judgements at the doorway of their story before we step in to their life.
Ann Graham says
Thank you Aliza. I wish I’d learned this lesson when I was your age. I am a recovering “fixer.” Listening (without trying to fix someone) is both a difficult and precious gift to give.
Yesterday I was also reminded that it’s good to pray for and with someone as they share a need, not just tell them you will pray for them.
I’m also learning to entrust people to God; he has safe hands.
I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes as I read this:
Listening as Spiritual Hospitality – Henri Nouwen
“To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.”
Your post is so powerful. Thank you!
Christina Little says
Thank you Aliza ~
I do struggle with wanting to fix everyone that comes and speaks with me or emails me or skypes with me. This is only what I’m learning now, I’ve tried to fill my heart with food, ksny purses, friends, and anything else in the hopes they will fix me or at least a piece. However, all that’s fallen away which has left me empty and having to face all the “junk” and as uncomfortable it is to sit with the truth and feelings, He is filling me with Him. He is fixing me. Thank you for sharing. So beautifully genuine!
This hits home. My very close friend took her life Friday and I’ve been beating myself up asking why didn’t I ask more questions…. this really helps!
It doesn’t make it hurt any less but truly helps.
Beth Williams says
I am definitely a fixer. If I hear of a problem my first thought is “ok what can I do to help out now”. Usually I want to make a meal or get food for them to assist them so they don’t worry about that aspect.
Sometimes, like Bev said, we just need to be fervent prayer warriors for them. Praying right there in front of them, then keep up the work. Also sending a few encouraging cards, texts, or notes may help during down times.
Blessings 🙂 :>)
Oh, how I have always wanted to fix things especially for my children. I have wanted to solve their problems, protect them from harm, control many things in their lives. I had to find out the hard way. You can’t control them, fix them, or protect them. That is God’s job and that is hard to admit and let go. Thanks for the reminders.
Uggghhhh yes… I still feel this way far too often! However, I now know better, see it sooner, and let it go much easier than ever before. But THANKS for the reminder!!