So this is it. I am going to fix you.
Or at least, I want to.
We are sitting across a table, and you are staring at me, telling me how you feel. You say you’re scared and ashamed and empty. You’ve run out of options and you don’t know what to do anymore. And yet to me, you are brave.
I feel a sort of squeezing deep inside of my chest as you say this, and I feel scared and anxious, too. I could almost throw up I’m so nervous. Because I know after this, after you’ve courageously splayed your heart across this table, reaching out for someone to finally see you, it will be my turn.
And I will need to fix you.
I know that as a Christian, this is what I’m supposed to do. Naturally.
Because if I am to embody Jesus, if I am to show you who Christ is, it is entirely up to me to fix you. I must leave our conversation confident that I, Aliza Naomi Latta, have defeated your demons. That I have single-handedly conquered your darkness.
I must leave with absolute certainty that you are going to be okay. And if you do not leave okay, it will be solely my fault.
I need to save you, or at least cover up your pain so it appears that you are mended. If your pain is too great, or your story too scary, I can rip open a band-aid and cover it up. I can place it gently on your raw, open wounds, smoothing out the edges so it’s hidden and concealed. I can wash my hands, smile at you, say, “All better,” tell you I’ll be praying, and walk away.
And in my eyes, you’re healed. In my eyes, I healed you.
But in my heart, I feel you’re still cracked and splintered. And I feel cracked and splintered, too. In my heart, guilt comes like a tidal wave, hissing that I have let you down, that I haven’t really saved you. In applying this quick ‘n easy band-aid fix, I have made you and your struggle into something small and insignificant, when in reality you’re crucial to this world.
And this? This is the truth: I want to fix you, I feel like I’m supposed to fix you, but I can’t. It’s an impossible feat.
Only the Savior of the world can do the saving.
Jesus never asked me to fix you. I kindly took that upon myself, assuming it was my utmost Christian responsibility, that it might make Jesus proud.
But when I think about it, when I set aside my savior complex and actually think about it, I realize something: maybe you didn’t want to be fixed after all.
Maybe you want to be listened to.
Maybe you want to be prayed for, but also over, and alongside, and during all those times when you can’t seem to find the words.
Maybe you want me to hold up your weary arms when you feel as if you’re falling.
Or dive into the deep end when you feel as if you’re drowning.
Or whisper my sincere and utter belief in you when you feel as if you’re worthless.
And maybe, maybe that’s what I can do. Though I wish I could plunge headfirst into your crevices, fill and occupy all your vacant spaces, make it so you’ll never know emptiness again, I can’t. And I won’t. And yes it’s true that Jesus didn’t ask me to fix you, but he did ask me to love you.
So perhaps, I can love you instead.
I can hear you.
I can see you.
And I can be here, with you, right across the table.
Photos by Seth Reffell
PS. To all of you who want to fix someone…
Know this: It is not your job to save them. You are not at fault if they are still hurting after your conversation. It’s not a bad or terrible thing that you want to fix them — to me this shows how you deeply care. God may have placed you in their life for a distinct reason, and maybe you’re the only one they’ve ever felt has really listened.
If you feel guilty about not “saving” them, know that the guilt doesn’t come from God. You are not a bad person, or contrary to what I believed, a bad Christian. God loves you, and he loves them, and he doesn’t guilt people into doing anything. You might be the first person they’ve talked to about this — which means they trust you — and truthfully, sometimes that can feel scary.
I’m proud of you already. This isn’t easy. And know this, too: I believe in you.
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Do you ever feel like it is your job to “fix” someone? What are some tangible ways you can instead pour out love onto someone who is hurting?