I was a fixer. I learned it from Mom who was always trying to “fix” me and make me happy. Here’s one example of many.
When I was in the 6th grade at College Street School in Carrollton, Georgia, I was miserable. I felt that I didn’t have any friends. I felt alone. My salvation was in my church, Tabernacle Baptist where I was very active. I was in the Royal Ambassadors, the Southern Baptist version of IWANA and the Cub Scouts. I felt accepted. But school was a lonely place for me.
During the summer after 6th grade, I went to Rock Ridge Baptist Assembly near Franklin, Georgia. That week, I met Phillip, Dale, and Phil. We became fast friends. They went to the county school. I, of course, wanted to go there too. That would solve my feeling of being a misfit.
Upon Mom’s insistence, Dad bought a house in the county school district which was in a subdivision. It made all the difference. I joined the high school quartet. A Baptist preacher-teacher sponsored the quartet and played the piano for us. We sang in rural churches all over the county. Those were fun years.
But after my 10th grade year, I was ousted from the quartet. Mom’s “fix it” nature led to my attending Oak Mountain Academy, a very small private school in those days. The Academy made a big difference for the better in my life. Mom’s “fix it” nature made life better for me on many occasions. So, that’s how I got my “fix it” nature.
I went into the ministry. Pastors are notorious fixers. I wanted to fix my church and make it better. I wanted to fix people in my church who I thought needed fixing. But, my “fix it” nature set me up for frustration and disappointment. I didn’t know then that I can’t fix people. Only God can fix people. And, He doesn’t share that power with anyone no matter how well intentioned they are.
I finally learned through counseling that I was a co-dependent. Part of a co-dependent addiction is the felt need to fix people. Learning of my need freed me.
One of my favorite anti-codependent parables is the ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish. (Matthew 25:1-13).
The wise girls brought an extra supply of lamp oil in case the bridegroom delayed his coming to the party. The foolish ones didn’t.
The foolish girls ran out of fuel and asked the other well supplied virgins for some of their oil. “Nope, you can’t have any of ours. Too bad, so sad. Your crisis is not our crisis. We’re not responsible for your lack of preparation.”
On the surface, their refusal seems crass, selfish, and downright mean. But, it wasn’t.
This parable is a lesson in maintaining a true identity. “I know who I am. I’m not dependent your approval.” Yes, even though the wise ones would have been elected “Miss Popularity” for helping the foolish needy, they didn’t care. It was about taking care of themselves first in order to gain admittance into the rehearsal dinner. Wow! What a lesson for codependents! What a lesson for me!
It’s also is a lesson in drawing boundaries. The five wise girls drew a boundary regarding where their responsibilities began and ended. They didn’t allow the foolish virgins inside their boundary. The wise were firm, resolute, and steadfast in the protection of their assets both psychologically and materially.
Codependents don’t draw boundaries. They merge with another partly out of fear of seeming crass, selfish, and mean. To be selfish and mean would mean the end of a relationship that depend on for emotional survival.
So in relating to others, you can influence, but you cannot fix. You can advise, but you cannot take responsibility for their mess. You can give understanding and love, but that’s where you draw the line.
Only God has the power to fix people, and when people hurt enough, when they’ve reached their limit and hit bottom, then they might be apt to seek the Lord for His power. Anything we might do to interfere is playing God, and He doesn’t share His extra oil with foolish people in order that they might get into the party.
Thanks for reading.