Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7
We had to take our bunny, Oreo, to the vet a few weeks ago to get his claws clipped. Since we go so infrequently, we don’t have one of those fancy carriers. Instead, I line a Rubbermaid bin with an old towel and put a metal grid on top.
Oreo’s always freaked out about being in that bin. So, I went against my better judgment, and let Jocelyn hold the bin on her lap. She wanted to comfort him and asked if she could pick him up. I repeatedly explained it was too risky in the car. I thought she understood.
When I heard her exclaim, I turned to find that not only was Oreo out of the bin, but he was crawling over Jocelyn’s shoulder and around her neck. She couldn’t control him, and I had nowhere safe on the road to pull over and help.
Needless to say, it was a dicey few minutes as I directed Jocelyn on how to keep Oreo from jumping around in the car. If he did so, he could have fallen awkwardly and broken his back. When that happens, you have no choice but to put a bunny down.
After getting him safely into the bin, I explained to Jocelyn that she had put her own need to comfort before Oreo’s safety. Of course, both were important, but if we couldn’t keep him safe, we’d risk losing him. As she cried in remorse and relief, I hoped she got the message.
Jocelyn isn’t alone with her misplaced good intentions. We’re all guilty of wanting to alleviate people’s discomfort. Yet sometimes, we do so before taking in the whole picture.
When compassion consumes us, we swoop in and take action. Unfortunately, our actions can sometimes cause more problems than they solve. Then we’re left carrying the weight of guilt for making things worse, not better.
I’ve been there. It’s a feeling you don’t want to invite in, nor is the disaster you leave in your wake one you want to create for the one you were trying to help.
My spiritual director once said, “Patience is the partner of wisdom.” No matter how much our heart aches for another, our first course of action should be prayer.
With patience, we need to go to God on behalf of our loved ones. The best gift we can give them is time spent in His presence, asking Him to intervene on their behalf. If, after that, God prompts us to take action to help, then we can follow His guidance, knowing He’d never steer us wrong. He’d never make things worse, only better.
Most of us moms are “fixers.” We want to help by fixing each other’s problems. What we miss is we risk robbing others of the growth that comes from their challenges. Worse yet, we risk compounding the problem by putting our own need to comfort over the other person’s greater good.
Questions for Reflection:
* Am I someone who wants to jump in and fix other’s problems?
* Do I see any value in simply listening and supporting others as they work through their own challenges, praying for them as they do so?