I have a serious case of “fixer-itis.” Perhaps many of you can relate.
This chronic condition plagues me every time I see people in pain or struggling or in need of help. Turns out being equal parts first-born and people-pleaser can often be a deadly combination. Sometimes mess feels super uncomfy and I just want to fix things! Not necessarily the broken sunglasses rattling around in my car (much to my husband’s chagrin), but life. Ain’t nobody got time for the struggle bus.
Dictionary.com describes a “fixer” as someone “who arranges matters in advance through bribery or influence.” I’m not so sure about the bribery part, but I wouldn’t put it past me. (The slang definition of fixer is “a person who sells narcotics to addicts.” I’ll try to avoid that. But, hey, Colorado.)
As far as “fixing” goes, I have an insatiable need to jump in and help when I sense trouble. I want to figure out how to solve someone’s problem or at least connect them with someone who can. While this sort of thing is not entirely bad, I mean, God created us to be in community, to help each other as “the body of Christ” and all, it can morph into micro-managing, enabling and the like. Not pretty. And, by and large, not helpful.
Yes, I’m meant to play my part. The problem comes when I try to play all the parts. Even and especially parts that aren’t mine to play. Lone ranger style.
So what’s a well-meaning girl to do?
Two-words: Portion Size.
I love this analogy mainly because I LOVE food. Pretty much any and all foods. (Except olives. Blech.) I despise having to watch what I eat. Dieting is super no fun. Especially now that I’m, ahem, over forty. Metabolism. Lame. But the fact is, I cannot down three pieces of pizza at midnight like I used to do in college without some serious backlash.
Yes, I can and do relish pizza (praise the Lord!), but I need to watch my portions in order to stay healthy.
Same goes for helping people. Yes, I can help people (and they can help me), but I need to figure out my proper role in any given situation. Because, listen, if I start to take over other people’s portions (roles), I not only heap un-health on myself and start functioning outside my lane, I also deprive others of the joy and blessing of functioning in their lanes.
This concept of discerning “portion-size” erupted like Mt. St. Helens when Holly’s first husband, Dave, died. Holly’s life turned upside down in a single moment and her state of grief and shock was at an all-time high. She could hardly function and needed folks to surround her in nearly every possible way. And rightly so. There were so many possible entry points. She needed meals, financial advice, moral support, prayer warriors, help with the kids, someone to walk the dog — you name it, she needed it.
Was one person meant to do all of these things alone? Absolutely not. We all needed to figure out our distinct roles in Holly’s life. Where one woman could whip up a piping hot plate of chicken parm to aptly feed Holly and the kids, another could clean her house and still another could stay the night so they wouldn’t be alone. It was teamwork and community in action.
About a month after Dave died, a group of us got together at a friend’s house to meet with a counselor. Not only was Holly struggling in the midst of her intense grief (or “greath” as she calls it), but the rest of us were reeling as well. We felt so helpless! What could we do to alleviate even a fraction of the pain?
That night, the counselor said something I will never forget.
It’s been a few years, so I can’t quote her verbatim, but the gist was something like this, she said each of us would need to figure out how to play our God-given roles. We must each embrace the portion God designed specifically for us. One could cook. One could hug. One could pray. One could tend to the kids. The best plan would be all of us working together in wholistic community.
Unfortunately, however, there were some things Holly would have to do alone. I hated that part. This was her journey. And we had ours. And Jesus was on the throne! Nestled deep in the cornerstone of each of our souls is a place only Jesus can fill. None of us are meant to be God for each other. Yes, He uses us in each other’s lives, but we are not ever meant to replace dependency on Him.
The “personalized portion” dilemma surfaced again when Christina’s dad died a couple of years ago. I remember setting up the meal calendar and realizing all the spots were filled and my name was not on the list. I wanted to bring her a meal because, isn’t that what you DO when someone is in need?? Not to mention, what would others think when they didn’t see my name on the list? (Again, Megan, ain’t nobody got time for that!! Get over yourself.)
I tried to apologize to Christina for not bringing her a meal and she came right back at me with another profound point. She said, “Megan, lots of people can bring me food. That is not what I need from you. I need your availability and friendship.” Now THAT I could do.
Please don’t mishear me — providing meals for people is SUCH A BLESSING!! When we brought Kelel & Senait home from Ethiopia, my friend Anne had to DOUBLE the amount of spots on the food calendar because I was still a hot mess after the first round. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we bring someone food or drink it’s as if we are doing it unto Him. But He ALSO says the same about inviting in strangers, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting the prisoner.
Are each of us meant to do ALL of these things? At various times, certainly! But all at once? I don’t think so.
The body of Christ is made all the more beautiful when we ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and direction in our daily lives. When we stay in our lane and fill the role made just for us.
How will we know our portion?? I would suggest the answer will be accompanied by supernatural peace. It might not make sense to everyone else and you may even feel like you’re letting people down, but it checks out in your spirit. Your calling may not be “easy,” but it will most definitely be right. Listen to that still small voice. He is our guide to abundant life!
The Message translation says it like this,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Have you ever been tempted to fill a role that might not be yours to fill? How do you know if it’s “ill-fitting” and what could you/should you do about it?
Living freely and lightly – holy buckets, man…those are the keys to the Kingdom, aren’t they!?! I know it’s simple but really knowing your portion means knowing what IS NOT your portion. And that is lighter and more free. But we so often wade into territory that isn’t ours for the sake of being “helpful” or for fear someone else “won’t do it as well.” If we learned to stay in our lanes…we’d all be better off. AND so ends my mixing of many metaphors.
I love the concept that Bob Goff (he is interviewed about it here) has made famous that we ought to “quit something every Thursday.” SO AMAZING! Take from this post-surgery, weary, recovering, fragile, little soul – we really do not have to do all of the things we do, people.
First off, thanks, guys, for going to counseling to handle me. I take a lot of work. However, I can say, you all did wonderfully. I have always said that it was an amazing thing to watch and be a part of . . . the way everyone’s gifts were so unique and so needed and so delivered at just the right moment. Who could single-handedly walk someone through big events in life, like the death of a child or spouse, cancer, a house burning down, etc. . . ???
I love the idea of asking, “what is my portion?” Right now, I am asking that question in relation to step parenting. I’m not sure I have found the role God has made for me in those relationships, because there is not a lot of peace there. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live freely and lightly in the step parenting realm. That feels impossible . . . but I know it is not.