Trusting God When You're a Natural Fixer

'Rosie-the-Riveter' photo (c) 2011, SOYBEANTOWN - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
I’m a Type A personality. When I see a problem, I analyze it. I tackle it. And I jump in! In fact, problems exhilirate me. I love the thrill of figuring out how to fix something and get it to go the way I want it to go.

That didn’t work tremendously well growing up, and God had to hit me over the head a few times to make me trust Him. I was constantly interfering in friendships, in relationships, trying to force them to go my way because I figured I knew best. And I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie. I couldn’t do NOTHING. If something was wrong with a friend, or a boyfriend, I had to fix it RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE.

That’s why I had such a hard time trusting God with the fact that I would marry. I wanted to marry so desperately, and in my late teens I was always on the lookout for possible candidates. When I did start dating my now husband, I sort of barrelled my way all over him. I saw that we would work together, and I made sure he realized that, too. I didn’t exactly wait for him to come to that conclusion; I made sure that he saw it my way.

Unfortunately, that scared him off, and he ended up breaking up our first engagement. I was just moving too fast. I was absolutely devastated and heartbroken, and had to wrestle my life out with God again. I had to acknowledge to God that He was my source of strength, not Keith. I had to acknowledge to God that no matter what happened, I would trust Him, not look for fulfillment in other people.

It was a very rough summer, but in retrospect one that I really needed. And Keith came back to his senses and we married anyway.

A few years later I had to wrestle with God again, over a problem that I couldn’t solve. My baby boy had a serious heart defect, one that was likely to kill him. And there was absolutely nothing I could do. Here I was, someone who would stay awake at night mulling over problems and strategizing my next steps to get rid of those problems, and there was absolutely no strategizing that would help. It was all about trusting God. And so I did. Even though my son didn’t make it, I learned that God was always there, and that He is enough.

And yet lately I have been reminded that God perhaps isn’t finished with these lessons for me. I find in my marriage that “trust” is the last thing I’m able to do. Oh, I can trust Keith fine. I just can’t always trust God to solve my problems. So if Keith and I have a disagreement, I stew and plan and strategize all day, and often call him in the middle of the day, to work it out. I use my brilliant insights. I give him my air tight arguments of what we should do now and where we should go. And usually I end up winning. Yet is it really winning if Keith hasn’t had a chance to think it over, to go to God with it Himself? If Keith hasn’t been able to explain what he wants?

I’m getting slowly better at stepping back and letting Keith process. I’m getting slowly better at going on with life when something is wrong in my marriage, trusting that we’ll be able to work it out later on tonight, or in a few days when we have time to sit together. I’m getting slowly better at taking things to God, and not just bowling ahead and trying to solve everything.

But it is not working in my kids’ lives. I feel as if with them God is asking me to step back, too, and let my kids make their own mistakes. I feel as if He is saying that I have to trust God with my kids’ futures. It was hard enough to trust Him first time around with mine; now I have to trust Him with theirs! I never realized that this, in many ways, is harder.

Some problems can’t be fixed, and sometimes the efforts that we make at fixing them actually prohibit God from working. What if God is trying to let your children go through a period of waiting, or trusting, and you try to fix it for them? What if  God is trying to wrestle with your husband about something, and you try to get your husband to talk everything out before God has really had time to soften him or convict him? What if God is planning a better solution, and you rush in because you can’t handle that uncomfortable feeling where everything is not in equilibrium?

There are times I need to step back. I am not God. I need to listen to what God says about my kids, and I need to trust Him with them. I don’t like doing that. Maybe God is telling you the same thing about your husband. Maybe you and your husband have an issue between you, and you want it solved RIGHT NOW. Ask yourself: why do I want it solved now? Is it because it needs to be solved, or is it simply because I don’t like this uncomfortable feeling? And if it’s the second, then your problem is not your husband. Your problem is your lack of trust in God to work this out.

I’m learning that I have to go to God, put my problems in His hands, and ask Him to show me when I should actually move and do something about it. And I’m learning that this is far less often than I would like.

What about you? Has God been teaching you to wait? How do you handle it?

UPDATE: Cheri Gregory, one of the readers of this blog, left a link to a post she wrote about how trying to help our kids avoid pain and disappointment can be so counterproductive. It’s a great post, so I wanted to highlight it here, too!

Comments

  1. I am just like you…a problem solver. I want to deal with stuff there and then. It is so much harder with the kids because I believe I know what’s good for them better than they do. And so am always stepping in. It’s even worse when it’s a teen we are talking about.
    Millicent recently posted…To love and to cherishMy Profile

  2. I needed this today. It seems like every time my kids enter a new phase of life, or we go through some big change, I have to learn this lesson all over again. Thanks for the reminder!
    Niki Turner recently posted…Never good enoughMy Profile

    • Oh, Niki, I’m so struggling with you today! I feel like I have to keep giving things to God almost hourly. I guess it’s a good lesson, but I don’t like it very much!

  3. Yes, this is me too but I hope not for the rest of my life. I see myself as a “strategist” in business and in life. But who wants to go about there life and especially their marriage/family life with a strategy? I can think of AND write down every scenario of how things can be better, but it is not really coming from the heart or spirit. It feels so “made up”. Only God can make something into EVERYTHING THAT YOU WANT IT TO BE and it will be “real”. I will share this with my friends and women of the church!
    Kathy Sykes recently posted…Meditation Monday!My Profile

    • I’m glad you understand, Kathy! I KNOW that’s not what I want, but I so naturally fall into that role. And God keeps prodding me to remember that He has the best plan. It is a constant challenge to move that knowledge from the head to the heart (and then to make the mouth shut up!)

  4. Sheila —

    One of the hardest realizations for me as a parent was that my drive to solve my kids’ problems is motivated far less by a desire to end their pain and far more by a need to save myself from the pain I experience while they’re in pain.

    I actually just pulled up a piece I wrote a couple of years ago on this topic — of the necessary pain and disappointment from which our children need to NOT be rescued — and posted it yesterday!
    Cheri Gregory recently posted…No Rescue Needed: Necessary Pain and DisappointmentMy Profile

  5. I know your blog is not really for single twenty somethings with no children, but I LOVE your blog. I ready every. single. day. I can relate to things you write about, but in different ways. I am a Type A personality. Oh, it has it advantages…. I get things accomplished, I am not a procrastinator, I am detail oriented and always a step ahead… But, boy are there downfalls, I am a control freak over outcomes (I hate to admit), I stress when something interferes with my schedule, I don’t do spontaneous things well…

    This was a much needed read for me today. I am not married, and as silly as this sounds, have decided that I am not meant to be married. I used to want to be married desperately, but decided that since it did not happen by my deadline (yes, I had a deadline for being married :)), that it was just not in God’s plan for my life, and I should learn to be happy being single. Now, I know I should be happy being single, but I should not try to convince God that he goofed, missed the deadline, and must restructure his plan for my life. Boy, it sounds silly when I actually admit it out loud.

    Lee Ann

    • Lee Ann, that’s tough. I’m glad you find useful things in my blog, even without being married! I do have plenty of friends who married in their thirties, though, and even one who is about to get married in her forties for the first time.

      I think the key is just to find peace where you are at life, and then trust God that He will bring His plans out. So be content where you are, but don’t close the door in case God has other plans, you know? Or perhaps, for your own peace of mind, it’s easier to just accept that you’ll be single. I don’t know, because I haven’t been there. But I do pray that God will grant you amazing peace. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Just like Lee Ann, I am a single mid-20s girl with no kids but I subscribe to your blog because I really enjoy it! (Also, I am a driven type A personality which is probably why I’m making sure I’ve got as much info so I am READY when I get married haha)

    A guy friend of mine who I at one point had a wee crush on (to put it lightly) a couple of years back admitted to me that he had been interested, BUT when I realised that, I got way too intense and put him off. At first I thought “I knew it! but Ouch!” and then I realised that, wow, I don’t trust God with this singleness very much. I’m still learning to trust God and not rush ahead (discovering that the very hard way) but it’s still quite difficult for me to let go of trying to anticipate and control the outcome. I know God is changing my heart towards trust, but it’s not always the fastest process :)

    • Thanks for that comment, Emma. That actually spoke to me about something specific which I can’t share here, but I needed that!

  7. WOW-just what I needed today.I have a teenage stepdaughter who lives with her dad and I fulltime. This brings alot of challenges, many of which I try to control.My life always goes smoother when I let go of the control and give it to God. I love reading your blog every day! I am trying to increase my readers so everyone please visit my blog.
    Jackie recently posted…COMFORTMy Profile

  8. hippie4ever says:

    Psalm 46:10
    Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

    The Be still is the hard part for me too. ;)

  9. Wow! I needed that today. I’m exactly where you were that heartbroken summer. I realize that I haven’t been trusting God with the outcome of a relationship “break” and I want an answer NOW. I hate waiting and I want to do something to fix it. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who screws up in this area and it’s a great reminder that I need to chill out and trust God.
    Thanks!

  10. Wow – good word! I have two teenaged daughters and had a difficult time letting them go. God kept telling me to let go. As a single mom, I taught them that God was their Father. But I kept trying to take God’s job! Finally, some things happened with them that I could not control. I finally backed off due to the emotional and physical toll of wanting to control everything. Everybody else was fine–I was an emotional and physical mess! We are still in process but my youngest daughter is graduating next June, going to college, honor roll student, violinist; and my oldest daughter finally admitted that drugs have ruined her very short life, she has been sober for a few months now, she said God and her mom have been there all the time–she was just too stupid to realize that, and she’s reading the bible! I am in a good place right now. I am at peace, my health (mental and physical) is improving and I trust God with everything. God is faithful and He uses His own schedule–not ours.

    • Robin, it sounds like you’ve been through quite a lot! I’m glad that God has brought you through this, and that He’s giving you peace. It can be so hard sometimes, though, can’t it?

  11. Wow … this struck a chord! We lost our 2 yr old son to a genetic condition, and now have a 14 yr old daughter with the same condition. She’s doing very well, but I am so afraid that God is going to ask me to give her back up to Him (I know she’s not “mine”, but “His” anyway). I struggle with being an overprotective parent because of this, and have nights of worry that almost turn my stomach inside out. Worry has always been a problem for me, and I try to pray instead of worrying, but I’m feeling pretty low today: daughter is sick with something that is puzzling several doctors, and my brain is going into overtime. People will say to me, “Just trust in God”, and I have to admit that although I know His plan is good and perfect and always for our good, my first reaction is, “I trusted him with my first child, and where did that get me??” It’s been over 20 yrs since we lost our first child, and I can honestly say that my attitude/trust has changed since then. I think that I’m “better” than I was at it, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure if what I’m feeling is “faith”, or just a sort of hopeless resignation that God will do what God will do, and I really have no control or say in the matter. I could really use some prayer today, if anyone is inclined to do so. Thanks.

    • Wendy-Lee, my heart just goes out to you. I’m so sorry you’re walking through this. The best thing I can say is that I’ve always found that God gives strength WHEN we need it, not before we need it. He’s sufficient for our daily needs, not all the needs that might come up tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after. So try, as much as you can, to live in the moment and not try to prepare yourself for all the “what ifs”. God will be there when you need Him to be, and right now just enjoy your daughter. That’s little comfort, I know, but I hope it helps!

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How do we trust God when we want to control things–especially control our marriage or our kids?  [...]

  2. [...] out To Love Honor and Vacuum, where Sheila Wray Gregoire has an excellent post titled “Trusting God When You’re a Natural Fixer” on the same theme as this [...]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge