Tuesday, May 11, 2010

play the fixer or point to the rescuer...

anyone else hate seeing people hurting and struggling?  i hate it.  i just want to help.  to ease their pain, fix their problem, make them laugh, and get them out of their struggle.  sounds like the right thing to do.  and it can be, but not always.  now before you call me cruel and tell me i have no heart, let me explain.

"if you have a problem, yo i'll solve it."-vanilla ice

i am a fixer. i like to take care of my friends problems and help them.  the problem is, when i swoop in and take care of things, i often set myself up as the rescuer.  a role i was never meant to play. this week i was reading in 1 samuel 23, a verse stuck out to me that i think speaks a lot to how gospel centered friendships should look.  this chapter in samuel puts us in the middle of one of the most esteemed friendships of all time, jonathan and david. 

david is on the run from saul.  he is literally running for his life from this crazy king.  he is living in caves and as a vagabond.  saul is in hot pursuit of david again and then jonathan, his best friend comes out to him.  i can only imagine that david is tired, maybe wondering if this is all worth it or how much longer god is going to let saul do this or whatever.  but i am almost certain that he is weary!  now i have never had a friend who was running for their lives, but i have had friends who were definitely feeling weary and many of my friends have seen me weary (like all the time). i love the simplicity and power of what jonathan does:
"and jonathan, saul's son, rose and went to david at horesh, and strengthened his hand in god. and he said to him, “do not fear, for the hand of saul my father shall not find you. you shall be king over Israel, and i shall be next to you. saul my father also knows this.”  1 samuel 23:16-17
he strengthened and encouraged him by reminding him of god's promise and god's goodness.  he pointed him to his rescuer and the one in control. he did not falsely try to build david up or bash his father's crazy leadership. and he did this with love! it was not done coldly and tritely without empathy like most of us religious people do so often. he gave him what he needed most.  i love that the word the scripture uses here is that jonathan strengthened david's hand in god!  he helped him endure what the lord has planned. he didn't try and relieve it from him, but wanted him to trust in the one who could.

i think often in helping people, we forget this key element.  we get so caught up in wanting them to feel better, that we forget this.  and we end up either becoming their fixer, pointing them to something else to help them, or just soothing their surface symptoms.  this has been a challenge for me. when i am helping people, am i really helping them and strengthening them in god, or am i just putting myself in the place as the fixer.
the fixer is dangerous, because it feels so good and you feel so right about it, even so christian about but in the long run it only makes things worse. i have to trust that in pointing them to the rescuer is the best thing and that he will rescue them, he does not need me.  the fixer is usually a much faster result, but like a drug they will be back for their next fix.  the rescuer will heal their lives forever, and some times it feels like it takes that long and you have to be that patient, but they will be whole! he has purpose for everything, even when things hurt or are hard.

this or course does not mean not meeting physical needs or never helping, after all that is biblical! and it certainly does not mean coldly telling someone to pray and read your bible (this is one of the things that makes me angry quickly! trite christian advice!!) but when you are encouraging your friends and helping those around you, ask yourself, "who are my actions and words pointing them to?"

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