The first fourteen years of my kids’ lives were pretty easy – not in the sense that we faced no challenges, because there were plenty. Rather, I felt in control of my children’s lives on most days. Sure, there was the occasional temper tantrum, dirty room, or smart mouth through the years. But I don’t know if anything could have adequately prepared me for the journey I would take through those teen years. What happened to my sweet, obedient little angels? It seemed that almost overnight my son developed a mind of his own – complete with his own ideas and thoughts about life. (Yes, I know that’s what is supposed to happen, but annoying nonetheless!)
One afternoon, I received a call from my son’s school that he had gotten in trouble for cheating on a test. It was devastating. I was mad, hurt, embarrassed, and so much more. They were contemplating what punishment he would receive. As I hung up the phone, I began to cry. I prayed fervently that God would fix this situation. Secretly, I wanted God to rescue my son rather than have him face the consequences. It was in those moments that I felt strongly that God was whispering this thought into my heart, “If I constantly fix things for him, how does he learn to depend on me?” Ouch. The truth was, I wanted to control it all and for my son to make right choices, because I said so, not because he chose to.
You see, I had this idea in my mind of what the perfect life was like. I’m sure you can relate. I would have children who always obeyed, earned straight A’s, and had great influences for friends. My children would graduate college, become doctors, own successful practices, marry great spouses, serve the Lord, and live happily ever after. And as I’m sure you guessed, life doesn’t always turn out that way. There are twists and turns and ups and downs. There are right choices and wrong ones. Ultimately, my son turned out just fine. But as I struggled to put words around how I was feeling through those tough high school years, this is what I came up with. I simply wanted to “fix” my kids. I had experienced the devastation that poor choices can bring in my own life, and I never wanted my kids to go through that.
The same has been true in other areas of my life, too. As God began to radically transform my heart and pull me up from some of the darkest circumstances, I became more and more passionate about wanting others to serve my God. This is a beautiful thing. It’s what we are on the Earth to do. However, the problem comes, when we think that bringing others to Christ has more to do with “fixing” them than loving them. You see, I had been an impoverished, severely abused, single mom who lived in sexual immorality. I knew how hard that life was. So when I had the opportunity to minister to single moms, I thought I had to show them Christ and… Pow! Boom! They would magically transform into perfect little angels. (That’s exactly how it worked in my life. Yeah right!)
As moms, wives, co-workers, friends, ministry leaders, and pretty much any other category on the planet, our job as Christians isn’t to fix people, however well-meaning it may be. In fact, we can’t fix people. I know this will shock some of you, but here goes. For every person you are desperate to “fix,” there is another person desperate to fix you! We aren’t perfect. None of us have it all together. It’s true that some are further along on their Christian path than others, and we absolutely can use that to invest wisdom in our sisters in Christ. But our primary job is to love one another. Our job is to administer tons of compassion and grace, to show mercy and friendship to others.
I can’t say that I’ve fully accepted the fact that I can’t fix my kiddos or others around me. But I can say that I am committed to trying! Will you join me in stepping back and letting the Holy Spirit do the job of fixing others?
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker whose passion for single parents and hurting women is contagious. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has appeared in hundreds of media venues around the world. For more info, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.