A while back I was having dinner with a friend of mine in Orlando, Florida. It was obvious that he was not doing well. He and the lady friend he had been dating for some time had just broken up and he began to share with me some of their history. It seems that their relationship had become serious and since he had never been married, the possibility of “tying the knot” had been exciting.
He shared with me that his girlfriend had come from a difficult past. She had four children from a rocky previous marriage and her self-esteem was very low. He also shared that even after they were engaged, she continued to date other men! He wanted to be patient and loving but that was proving to be difficult as he began to understand just how much baggage she carried. (This is not to put her down; we all have some baggage. I am just telling you the story as he shared it with me that night at dinner.)
Though their relationship had many ups and downs, he wanted to make it work. After many months of counseling and doing everything he thought he could do to help the situation, he finally gave up. The end came one night as he drove up in front of her house and caught her kissing another man on the front porch. He said, “After the other guy had driven off, I got out of my car, walked up to her, and said, ‘We have to end this situation. Fixing you is killing me!’” He then looked over at me with a big grin on his face and burst out laughing. He said, “That would be a great title for a book, wouldn’t it?” I told him that every one of us could submit a chapter for that book from our own life’s experience about how we had tried to fix another person.
It always starts so innocently. We want to help people. But the problem comes when we want to help them more than they want to help themselves and we start doing everything for them. Soon, they begin to depend on us rather than learning to stand on their own two feet. We can end up crippling another person by trying to help them too much. The downward spiral continues until one day we are forced to realize the hard truth that, “Fixing you is killing me!” It would be far better to let people fail than to prevent them from learning some of life’s necessary lessons.
I believe in helping people. That is part of life. However, I can still hear the insightful words of one of my mentors, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, when he said, “I finally figured out the way I can help people the most…is by hindering them less!” He meant my job was not to do for people something that they can learn to do for themselves. It looks magnanimous to hold a baby in your arms when they are a baby, but if you are still carrying them everywhere when they are 25 years old, you have not actually helped them at all. You should have let them learn how to walk for themselves, even if it meant falling down and skinning their hands and knees so they could develop their own skill set. You should have hindered them less.
This week take a step back and stop trying to fix other people. It is okay to encourage and influence people but not to control them or “fix” them. Allow them to learn the same lessons that you have learned. Although it is sometimes painful to watch others make mistakes, after they learn their lessons, they usually live in a healthier manner.
Our job should be to love other people. It is God’s job to “fix” them. Let’s focus this week on doing our part of the equation. I am sure that God is very capable of doing His part!
Tip: Fixing you is killing me!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm