Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mommy, Fix It

   "Mommy, fix it." Clutched in hand would be a broken toy, a paper airplane that would no longer fly, a doll with her dress askew. And so I did. I fixed it. I made it right or made it work over and over again. I found that it was somehow fulfilling to dispense bandaids along with healing kisses. To bathe fevered brows and straighten twisted sheets or offer a soothing lullaby to send a weary little one off to sleep. My children needed me, and I liked that. It made me feel important and valued as a mother. It was my job.
   Although it was relatively easy in the beginning, it soon became more and more difficult to fix whatever problem reared its head in my household. For as my children grew, the problems proportionally grew with them. And what did I do? I simply picked up my game. The stakes were higher so I became even more dedicated and determined to "fix" whatever was wrong. If, at times, it became overwhelming, I pressed on. It was easy to ignore the warning signs: my own deepening exhaustion, the growing belief that I alone understood or could communicate effectively about the needs of my family, or my attempts to manage all manner of issues, both great and small. There were no boundaries, or if there were, I either overstepped them or ignored them. I was the Fixing Queen. Little did I realize the snare into which I had fallen. I had become a proselyte in the temple of making right whatever was wrong. But what I did not realize was that this behavioral response to life's difficulties in my children's lives had morphed into an addiction, a powerful drug that worked for me (or so I believed).
   I would like to believe that I began in good faith as a young mother simply meeting the needs of her quickly growing family. I was engaged in nurturing my children and providing a safe and loving environment for them. But truth be told, the serpent had already invaded the Garden and somewhere along the line the corruption began to permeate my life. It was a small idea in the beginning, but it quickly became a consuming fire: I actually began to believe in my own ability to fix whatever was wrong.
  This is idolatry. Pure and simple. It's the "I can do it" that we hurl in the face of trial, tribulation or whatever trouble assails us. It's also what we tell ourselves and what we tell God when He gently whispers to our soul that there is another way.
   So here I am in mid-life finding the layers of self-delusion and self-protection being peeled away. It's painful. But it is necessary. I have adult children. They do not need me to fix their problems. It sounds so easy to type those words. But I have set up kitchens, cleaned out closets, made up beds and decorated rooms in their houses. I have also encroached in the other areas. I have had a lifetime of overstepping my bounds.
   There is a scripture that I have prayed for one of my children that I am seeking to lay hold of for myself, "Thou hast drawn the boundary lines for me in pleasant places, what a delightful inheritance I have."
Pleasant boundaries. Safe boundaries. Secure boundaries where no thief or enemy can enter to steal or destroy. A place to rest and to delight in what has been freely given to me. Can I continue to let go of my control, my need to be needed, and my lifetime propensity to run to the place of trouble with the temporary fix?
   I am believing so...for it is for freedom in Christ that we have indeed been set free, and I do not want to take again the yoke of slavery. The callouses on my neck and hands and soul from the unholy yoke are just beginning to feel the blessed relief of His healing touch.



  1. You were the wise woman who said to me as I cradled a tiny Kate and bemoaned the fact that I couldn't meet all of my daughters' needs, "Shannon, if you could do it all for them, they wouldn't need Jesus." I am trying very hard to let them see their need - and my own need - for Jesus. Because there are so very many things I can't fix. Love you.

  2. What a beautiful post. I find myself struggling with this with my boys all the time. I hate letting them suffer, but know that in the long run, they are learning.


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