As a new missionary in 2007 it didn’t take me long to realize that helping other people in times of drama (relationship issues, personal challenges, intense trials) was a big part of ministry. This didn’t really surprise me since drama’s a big part of life itself, but what did surprise me is my attempts to fix the drama just made things worse.
I (like most males) am a “fixer” whose first question when dealing with drama is “how can I fix this?” But all the work in the world instead of making things better just made the drama worse.
This is because my attempts to fix the drama was based upon the idea it could be easily fixed…as if emotional scars or wounds could just heal overnight. The truth is emotional scars heal slowly and people can’t “just get over it” so my acting as if everything should be fine tomorrow is incredibly disrespectful.
It took a while, but eventually I learned I was asking the wrong question
The question isn’t “how can I fix this?”
It’s “how can I help?”
There’s something to be said for talking through hardship that other people are experiencing but often I’ve found looking at it from the “how can I fix this?” Mentality simply leads to reliving the pain all over again, and lots of talking but little forward movement. Even worse I take the place of God who is the only one can truly heal our brockeness.
When our question becomes “how can I help” however it leads Biblical responses
- Like confessing our own failure in the situation
- We approach the situation as a fellow Believer or brother/sister instead of someone who fixes the problem
- The conversation will eventually turn towards future action (how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?)
- Doesn’t minimize their emotional pain
- And most importantly confesses God is the only one who can bring peace
As a pastor I hate seeing people hurt…I would rather put their pain on my back and carry it for them than see their tears. That’s a Godly attitude but it can easily lead to an unhealthy love of going around “fixing” everybodies problems, making it worse in the process. The most loving (and painful) thing I can do for someone experiencing drama isn’t to fly in like a superhero and take it away, but help them carry the load.