What in the world was God thinking when He designed fixers? They can be hurtful to the “fixee” as well as themselves!
Fixers are usually people who are highly sensitive—they are empathetic and can feel when something is wrong. Because they are also creative and compassionate, they can often accurately assess what the problem is and how to remedy it. They want to do what they can to make things better. They want to help. That’s a good thing, right? Yes and no. Sometimes it backfires and people see the “fixer” as a busy body; they feel controlled and manipulated—not good.
It is a good thing to be compassionate, empathetic and it’s good to make things better. Yes, BUT, undisciplined compassion with weak boundaries or no limits leads straight to burnout and will probably involve a good amount of time in co-dependency…which is dysfunctional—not good.
What causes High Sensitivity?
The reason people are highly sensitive has to do with how their central nervous system is wired. Highly sensitive people take in more sensory data than most. That is why they are often slow to figure out what they think or feel about something—they have lots more data to sort through before coming to a conclusion. It really does take longer when you have more factors, more variables. Emotional data is also sensed and felt by highly sensitive people as if it were their own. They need more alone time–down time to recharge energies than most people. So they may be viewed as “different.”
It is good to sense what the problem is for purposes of intercessory prayer. Sometimes God needs to prepare the soil of the soul or spirit and that is why He wants us to intercede. However, if we rush to fix the fix that God fixed to fix a man, then God will have to fix another fix to fix him! Thank you, John Sandford, for that bit of wisdom!
All problems are not bad. Not all pain is to be removed. Pain can serve a good purpose; that’s called redemptive pain. Pain is a blessing when it drives you to God. But when you are alone in it, it’s more painful. Here is where the burden bearer can sit with them in their pain, fill up with it and be a comfort them…but then go to the cross and off load immediately! Pain is a blessing when you develop strength of character while resisting it—by not becoming negative, not doubting God, not complaining but using the thrust of the enemy like a pole vaulter uses his pole to propel himself higher and further than he could jump by himself.
God allows highly sensitive people to feel people’s pain, but the response He wants from us is not to rush in and fix the problem in our own strength. That is an emotional, immature response and it results in doing the work of the spirit with the strength of the soul—and the soul is not built for it. Soul strength is exhaustible; but the strength of God is inexhaustible. He wants us to turn to Him, ask Him what He wants to do in the situation. Then, invite Him to do what is on His heart to do in the first place.
Gal. 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. The word for burden here means the overwhelming, crushing load! That is what you and I are to come alongside and help carry. Some problems are Gal. 6:4, your own load that you are meant to carry. The word that is translated “burden” or “load” in 6:4 means an individual’s pack, much like a soldier’s knapsack. It contains everything the soldier will need on his mission. If you take another’s knapsack you rob them of the enterprise of their own learning. Every teacher knows that you learn it when you earn it. Some problems contain the parameters within which you learn and develop godly character. As pastors and leaders we must not rush to rescue.
I am sure Chris would not want to repeat his near burnout experience, but I am also sure that he is grateful for the things he learned about himself and his Lord that he could learn no other way. He learned invaluable things about his maturity, boundaries, limitations and God’s grace. We do not want to take away another person’s opportunity to mature.
God is the consummate teacher. He allows us to participate in what He is doing—growing up sons and daughters. When our daughters were little they wanted to “help” me in meal preparations. I would lift them up on the counter and tell them they could help by watching. That worked for a while, and then they wanted to participate. They would pour premeasured ingredients into the bowl and then stir. They were included and proud of their “contribution.” And I bragged about how helpful they were to their father, whose face lighted up with delight. God does this with us. Jesus lifts us to heavenly places and gives revelation so that we can ask Him to do what He has in mind—His premeasured ingredients! He includes us and it strengthens our faith and works into us the character and nature of God. He brags to His Father about us and Father God beams with delight over what we do right!
One of the unpleasant things about being sensitive is that we are so sensitive! Every sense seems to be exaggerated…someone, please…turn down the volume! (the heat, the lights, cut the tags off my shirts!) So when we encounter someone in pain, we feel it. It hurts and we want it to stop. We can go into spasms trying to make it stop.
Highly sensitive people can actually draw down the pain level of a person who is in overwhelm—sort of siphon it off into themselves. They can swoop into a painful situation and scoop up the excess just to lower the amount of pain they feel—if you don’t hurt then I won’t have to feel it. This is unredeemed burden bearing. Unchecked, it can get you into all sorts of dysfunctions; it can lead to physical and emotional illness, depression and drive people around you nuts! It is only a temporary fix, but when God fixes a situation, it is done. We need His strategy and power.
God made no mistake when He designed highly sensitive people creative and compassionate. They are able to sync with the heart of God and bring back a bit of heaven with them. They can sit with Him and be devastated by what devastates Him and be delighted in what delights Him. They are the poets and authors, prophets and seers who hear His stories and songs and write them down. They dance to His tunes and pray the prayers the hurting cannot say. They comfort the wounded, bind up the broken and release the captives. They are the watchers on the walls, the menders of the breach and cleaners of the temple—God’s “Special Forces” who help to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven—that’s what God was thinking!
Here are two sources where you can find more on this subject—my website, www.fromgodsheart.com and Dr. Elaine Aron, a secular psychologist http://www.hsperson.com/. She has a self-test for anyone wondering whether or not they are highly sensitive. Good stuff, very helpful.
Next time you are tempted “to make the hurt go away”; before you quickly fix someone who is over-whelmed so that you don’t become overwhelmed yourself…please stop. Quiet–(ask God to turn down the volume if the pain is so loud you can’t hear) and ask God what He wants to do in this situation. He has taken on Himself responsibility for all outcomes. What does He want to do? And then pray that prayer.
And then share with us here how it went!
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