The Real Fixer

I’m a tool.

That’s what she said!

I swear it will make sense in a minute. But I gotta set it up first.

If you were an evangelical teen girl in the late nineties, you probably had a colorful woven bracelet that said F.R.O.G. You wore it with your WWJD? bracelet, along with your True Love Waits ring and your short-shorts, because you were in high school and your legs looked fabulous, even though you didn’t fully appreciate them at the time.

F.R.O.G.

Fully. Rely. On. God.

And if you’re anything like me, you told yourself that you did.

I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and probably only remember the exact moment I asked Jesus into my heart because it came as a result of my brother dying, and my barely-cognizant toddler self wanted to go to Heaven too.

So. I’ve always relied on God to see me through the tough times.

Except maybe I didn’t.

I said I did, and I thought I did, but now that I think about … I’m unconvinced that I ever actually did.

Here’s the deal: I like to fix things. I like to teach, preach, educate, and share. I like to put myself in other people’s shoes and try on their rose-tinted glasses, and offer mine for them to try on too. I want to understand people, and I want them to understand me. It’s why I’m a blogger, people.

It never occurred to me that I might come upon a situation I couldn’t somehow fix. Maybe periphery things, like that chick at work that possibly didn’t like me, or a bad hair day, or when the movie sold out before I bought my tickets … but even those things could be fixed in a way. Be nice and stay out of Crazy Chick’s way. Wear a cute hat. See a different movie or go to a later showing. Fixed and done.

Here’s the thing about being a fixer — it feels good. It feels really, really good to see people experience happiness and know that you had a part in it. The Christian part of me tried to give the credit to God, even (especially?) in my own heart, but the pride I felt in being the tool God used to change something on this earth for the better betrayed that credit.

It’s probably like a mirror thinking it’s beautiful when a pretty face gazes upon it.

The problem with this line of thinking is on the other side of the coin. If, as God’s tool, I can create peace and happiness and harmony, then when bad things happen it must be because I wasn’t a good enough tool. Must. Try. Harder. Change tactics. Find a new solution.

A better tool could’ve fixed it. A better mirror would’ve reflected something beautiful when confronted with ugliness.

And as good as it feels to be the tool that creates beauty, that’s as bad as it feels to be the useless, discarded tool that’s no good at fixing things.

The past several years have been a slow process of untangling myself from thinking that I had to put up with the bad parts of life, because obviously if I’d done a better job of fixing them, they wouldn’t have been be so awful. I never declared anything broken — I just hadn’t found the right combination of duct tape and elbow grease to fix it.

In other words, I was not fully relying on God to be The Fixer. He was merely the power behind my glorious Tool Self.

Instead of feeling grateful that God had chosen me, out of all the other people He could’ve chosen to accomplish something good, I took the credit for myself like a hammer might take credit for pounding in a nail.

Newsflash: It doesn’t matter which hammer the carpenter uses. Feeling bad and taking the blame for not being able to fix something is as futile as a hammer feeling bad for not being able to hit the nail on the head.

The hammer must rely on the carpenter, and so must we also rely on God.

Otherwise we are on dangerous ground, becoming like King Saul, who refused to wait for Solomon to perform the sacrifice. Do you know what happened when Saul took it upon himself to do what he considered to be the Lord’s work, but didn’t actually trust and rely on God to get it done according to His perfect will and own good timing?

And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13: 13-14

Saul’s lineage would’ve ruled the kingdom of Israel forever, but because of his own selfish desires to be the fixer, instead of totally relying on God, he screwed himself over.

Let’s not be like King Saul, mmmkay?

How appropriate that God the Fixer sent His Son to earth as a carpenter.

God knows the blueprints of our lives, and if we can only yield to Him, He will use us for His glory, and we will become His treasured tools, as inseparable from Him as a two-year-old from a favorite lovey.

Bottom line: Pay attention to God when He keeps trying to use you as a screwdriver, or an angle plane, or a chisel or whatever.

He made you and He knows your purpose. Stop beating yourself up because you’re a monkey wrench that did a horrible job trying to be a clamp.

God has a perfect plan for you, and you are the perfect tool to accomplish His grand design. Trust that He is using you exactly as He intended, even if you never thought about yourself in that way. It is only when we decide that, as tools, we know better than the carpenter that we run into trouble.

Be a beautiful, glorious tool.

That’s what she said.

(I told you it would make sense.)

Raising Children of Faith

So I was reading this article over on The Stir, which talked about letting your children explore other religions to find out what “works” for them. Oh, and they’ll respect you more. After all, religion is all about feeling connected to something, right? Be it God, Mother Earth, ourselves, the collective one-ness of souls … religion to many people is an experience.

This snippet pretty much sums it up:

The important thing to me is that she builds a genuine relationship with God, not that she gets “churched,” which means mastering all of the habits and traditions — including being able to recite scripture back and forth — but never really connecting with the Lord. That would be missing the whole point.

How does one love a stranger? If some guy you were moderately attracted to asked you to marry him on the first date, would you say yes? Well maybe, but the chances of it working out would be slim. You have to get to know someone before you commit your life to him.

It is no different with the Lord. It is so much more important that my children get “churched” about God than “spiritually connected” to some nameless faceless universal power. It is only after learning about the one true God, His endless love, His ultimate sacrifice on the cross to wipe out our sins, can my children even begin to love God.

When you study the Word, and you understand the depth of your depravity, and begin to realize that there is a Father in Heaven that created you, sent His Son to cover your undeserving hiney, and left his Holy Spirit to guide and comfort you … that is when you can begin to love God.

Love has to come with knowledge; otherwise it is just a feeling.

So while my children are young, I will equip them with knowledge of the Lord. They don’t have to love God, but by golly, they will learn His Word. They will learn of his redemptive plan for His people. They will learn about their adoption into His family.

They will learn it because God has instructed me to teach them. And what is so wrong with learning Bible verses anyway? One doesn’t have to be Jewish or Christian to look at the 10 Commandments and think they’re a pretty good set of rules.

One of the first verses Thing 1 learned was 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Learning scripture isn’t a bad thing!

I will ALWAYS love my children, even if they break my heart by denying the Savior. It is because I love them that I “church” them. I believe that decisions made without knowledge only end up being correct on a fluke, so I will equip my daughters with every bit of Jesus-knowledge I can cram into their brains, so that someday when they’re grown, they can make their own real decision about where to put their faith, hope, and trust.