In another life, I would have enjoyed running Sheth’s Repair Shoppe. I would have a small building outside of town where I’d take in dilapidated lawn mowers, sputtering sewing machines, and off-kilter kitchen tables; and in a few short hours I would have them repaired and running good-as-new. I’d take hour long breaks each afternoon, sit in my rocking chair out front and thumb my overall straps while I waxed poetic about the town politics with passersby.
At my core, I am a fixer. I enjoy fixing things: cars, tables, lamps, tractors, computers, couches, sinks – if it’s broken, I will gladly dive in with my hands and try to repair it. I enjoy fixing things because I can see a problem, work towards finding the solution, and in the end receive a small amount of satisfaction knowing I took something destined for the trash pile and made it usable again.
The truth is, this desire of mine to fix things is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I can usually make things last a long time. But, it’s a curse because I try to fix things I cannot fix. I try to apply my ‘fix-it’ attitude to people. I see people in the brokenness of their lives and I want to fix what is wrong. I want to take them out of their situation, brush them off, hug them, tell them they’re loved, and help them move on. Nothing distresses my heart more than seeing someone hurting, and I desire nothing more than to jump into the thick of it all and save them.
A friend of mine, many years ago, reminded me that I am not the savior. I cannot take someone out of their brokenness. I cannot repair their life and make them whole. I cannot heal their wounds. As hard as I can try, I cannot save them from their situations. How difficult it is to live life knowing I cannot save another person!
But! But what I can do is show them compassion. This word comes from the late Latin compati meaning ‘to suffer with’. How often do we do that any more? How often do we get down on the ground with people and sit with them as they weep? How often do we visit with another’s poverty of the soul? How often do we move from our level of ‘fixed’ to their level of ‘broken’? How often do I suffer alongside my friends, family, and world?
Instead of throwing my hands into the situation and trying to fix it, I need to throw my soul into the situation and be with those who are suffering. Honestly, I believe this is what people desire most! They don’t want us to fix the problem; they want us to be present with them in the thick of it all as they fix it themselves. In other people’s lives, the best I can do is show them compassion. I can climb down into the hole with someone and be present in their life. I can cry alongside them and share tears. I can be vulnerable and open, and I can be willing to relate my life to theirs.
As I put my arms around others, wipe away their tears, and offer words of encouragement, I know I can’t fix those who need fixing. But I can be the compassionate person they need and suffer alongside them.
.much love. sheth.