Are You a Fixer?


photo courtesy of Krista Ryan/

photo courtesy of Krista Ryan/

My poor husband.  For over 28 years, he has put up with my “fix-it” tendencies, though to be fair, they have come in handy whenever a doorknob has broken or a faucet has started to drip. It is hard for me to rest when something is broken, or when I think something is broken, or when I think I can make something better. The problem comes when I try to fix or make my husband better.

He accepts this tendency in me, letting my attempts to shape him into the best version of himself roll off his back like water off a duck, and then continues to live the best way he knows how, which is what most of us do anyway. Since my fix-it tendencies were ineffective when directly applied, I began to use the indirect approach – I prayed.

Here’s how my fixing looked in prayer: “Father, Son, and Spirit, please help my dear husband eat his broccoli so that he continues to enjoy good health. Oh, and please inspire him to exercise while you’re at it, as he probably needs to do that, too.  Taking vitamins might also be a good idea.  In Jesus’s name, amen.”

I doubt anyone (at least, any wife) would dispute the wisdom of these requests.  However, as I thought about what I was asking God to do, I realized that I trying to direct God, in addition to fixing my husband – two very questionable goals, both stemming from fear and an overwhelming responsibility to take care of everyone.  When I identified the root issues of fear and a skewed sense of responsibility in my helpful tendencies taken too far, I could see my very specific requests to God were, in fact, my attempts to control that which is outside my domain, and they revealed that I didn’t trust that God’s way of working out our mutual desire for my husband’s well-being.

As believers, I think we have all heard that our prayers to God should be very specific, like incense ground finely, as if not asking for a precise healing might preclude any healing at all, since God might say, “Well, if you would have asked for the artery running to right ventricle to be free of blockages, I probably could have prevented that heart attack.” It’s attitudes like this that turn our prayers into incantations and take us farther from the true intent, that of relationship where we acknowledge that we are held, deeply loved, and cared for.

It’s hard to let go of responsibility when you’re a fixer, but it also can be a relief.  I can still pray (and I do) for health, for safety, for happiness, for freedom from suffering for my loved ones, as well as those I really don’t like, and I know that our God is competently at work in the details. I can pray for healing and for health and not feel as if the outcome depends on me getting the words just right. By letting go and letting God be God, I am getting better at accepting the flaws and brokenness in myself, in others, and in this beautiful world. My name is Nan, and I am a recovering fixer who aspires to one day recognize that imperfections and brokenness are not always in need of fixing; they may even be the best way to see God in each other.

~by Nan Kuhlman



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