Monthly Archives: April 2015

NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others


NOMB curb others-recby Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

When I see someone else’s struggle and “feel their pain”, I want so much to make it better. WHAT’s a person to DO? Here are a few tips:

#1 Face yourself:

  • Check your motives. Be honest with yourself about why you want to make it right. Your urge to fix is probably not as altruistic as it seems. Our motives are often mixed: sure we want to help, but we may also want to avoid the discomfort of watching others suffer or the annoyance of their “imperfection.”
  • Accept your limits in understanding and skill, and the specific ways God has asked you to serve in this world.

#2 Remind yourself of truth:

  • Pain is important. We are programmed to avoid pain at any cost, but experiencing pain is necessary; the stove’s heat or the wind’s cold prompt us to practical action. Leprosy is a malady where the nerves that detect pain are destroyed. Much of the disfigurement of leprosy comes because of the lack of feeling, not from the disease itself: a burn goes undetected, or an infection untreated, which leads to irrevocable tissue damage. Pain notifies us of danger or a need to change, even if that is just taking better care of ourselves.
  • Suffering is a part of life on earth. “In the world,” Jesus said, “you will have tribulation. But take courage: I have overcome the world.” He understands that we will have suffering—He experienced it himself many times. But he also knows that accepting hardship is not admitting defeat: far from it. God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
  • God uses all the pain in our lives, and sometimes He allows us to suffer for a reason. If He does so, He can be trusted: He has a good purpose in it, either for us or for someone else.
  • Your fixing can actually do more harm than good. What you think is helpful for someone else can often be downright harmful; how could you possibly know?

#3 Pray:

  • Thank God that
    He is at work in this situation, and good will come of it.
    His love for you and your loved ones is much greater than your own.
    His ideas, His strategy, His perspective, His understanding are far beyond you’re own.
    He will let you know if He wants you to do something in this situation.
    He will give you the self-control to resist the urge to step in where you don’t belong, and        the courage to step forward when He leads you to act.
  • Talk to God about the specifics. He already knows what is going on, but also knows that you need the listening ear of a loved one to hear your concerns. (It really helps. Trust me.)
  • Ask God what He wants you to do or not do.
  • Listen for His answers.

#4 Act: There are many ways God MAY ask you to help. You might be led to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Intercede. Often when I see difficulties in another’s life, I feel like God’s primary request is for me is to pray for that person. This is not a last resort. It is actually the most powerful action I can take because prayers invite the power of God’s spirit into the situation. Perfect power and perfect love, working on the problem! Who doesn’t want that?
  • Encourage. The most important thing a person can do–outside of praying–for someone in difficulty is to encourage them. Encouragement can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a note, or a shared laugh. It is easy to encourage via phone, text, Facebook, or email. A moment of thoughtfulness can make a world of difference in someone’s day, especially when they are going through a hard time.
  • Listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, right? Listening is a powerful encouragement. Giving someone a safe place to articulate a problem or vent emotion is actually therapeutic. I have seen this over and over in the practice of medicine.
  • Serve. Practical acts of service, such as a gift, a visit, a meal, an offer to babysit are “cups of cold water” given in Jesus’ name. They help lighten another’s load in the most literal sense.

“It’s God’s problem. He should worry”
To be honest, it is a relief to acknowledge my limits, and accept my inability to fix others. When I do, I find I worry less. I pray more. My focus centers on God’s sufficiency rather than specific problems. And I am more likely to pay attention when God leads me to how and when I should act, or if it is best for me just to concentrate on prayer.

At most I might be a small part of a solution to someone’s problem. I am certainly not meant to be The Solution. Only God can be that; when I try, I just get in the way.

Accepting my limits frees me to do what God has already asked me to do—what we are all called to do in this world: love people. This love may take the form of prayer, encouragement, listening, and/or serving.

It’s our job to love folks. It’s God’s job to fix them.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer; Patience

NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer

by Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer

Fixing Things

I am a fixer by nature and nurture. By nature, according to the Myers-Briggs personality test I am an Extroverted-Intuiter-Feeler-Perceiver, and ENFP’s like me enjoy solving problems. You could say that my tendency to want to fix things is hardwired in my DNA. By nurture, I grew up the middle child. As such, I was the de facto ambassador in parental negotiations and the swing vote in sibling disputes. My fix-it-ness was reinforced in medical school, where I learned to analyze and diagnose and advise and treat all sorts of ailments. You could say I had a “license to fix.”

But nothing has fine-tuned my fixing skills more than motherhood. As every parent knows, moms are required to fix all kinds of stuff like scrapes, scuffles, bad manners, and hurt feelings. Oh yeah, and spilled milk, throw-up, and crises in the carpool. And—lest we forget–moms are more often than not responsible for fixing dinner.

No wonder it is hard for me to turn off that fixing nature. (And why would I want to? I’m so good at it! But I must—MUST– resist the urge. Fixing other people’s lives is waaaaay out of my job description. It is one thing to help someone solve a problem when asked (such as in my role as physician), or when someone depends on you (as in mothering a small child). But most of the time people don’t need—or want–me to diagnose what is wrong with them and try to correct it. That is almost always the worst thing a person can do. Ask any teenager.

Folks, including teenagers, just want to be loved and accepted. They want to be enjoyed for who they are. They want someone to believe in them and pray for them. People want someone to listen while they talk out their dilemmas so they can come up with their own solutions.


OK, so how does one curb this fixing habit? Here’s a great start: Remind yourself every day that YOU ARE NOT GOD.

Note to self: I am not God.

I am not God. I know this shocks those of you who know me, but I just wanted to get it out there so you could get used to the idea.

Here are a few additional reminders that are helping me curb my fixing habit:

  • I don’t know the big picture. I do not have enough information to even judge what another person’s problems are, much less to solve them. I might see glimpses, but they are just that—flashes of insight. It takes much more information than this to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend a remedy. As we in medicine like to say, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
  • I don’t have the skills. Another axiom in the practice of medicine is, “Know your limits.” Not only do I lack adequate information, I also lack the ability to “fix” someone else.
  • It is not my job. As much as I might act like it sometimes, God has not asked me to fix anyone. I don’t think He ever would, and it would be beyond me if He did.
    My “fixing” might hurt more than it helps.

What about you? Do you ever have the inclination to try to FIX THINGS?                                            If so, then repeat after me:

“I am not God. I am not God. I am not God.”

Oh, gracious! There I go again. Now I’m trying to fix YOU! Ugh!

note not God-rec

Recent Series: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem, Four Practical Steps

Four Practical Steps to Overcoming Problems – Overcoming Series, Pt. III

by Lydia Floren

In the Overcoming blog series, we have been talking about—well—overcoming problems. In this process, it helps to:

  • Remember who Jesus is, and what God can do.
  • Accept the truth that problems are a part of life.
  • Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered the ordered system of evil we live in.

But how do we apply this to our everyday lives?

4 practical steps

Four practical steps to overcoming problems:

1. Face your problem

  • Face the problem honestly. Don’t avoid it, blame someone else, or pretend it isn’t really a problem. In intense emotional reaction to a situation, especially if it seems out of proportion to the facts, may be a clue to you that you have an unidentified issue; examine it with courage.
  • Identify YOUR problem. Ask questions. For example, if you have a problem with a coworker, ask yourself, “What is happening? What is my reaction? What reasons might I be reacting this way? Am I making false assumptions? Generalizing? Why?” Asking questions helps you get to the real problem, which may be that this co-worker triggers something from your past and brings up old pain.
  • Don’t let problems become your identity; keep the problem the problem. For example, say “I experience anger in certain situations” not “I am an angry person.” And don’t generalize about someone else, as in, “They are a no-good-very-bad person because they make me angry.”
  • Be willing to change in your reaction to the problem. Problems are opportunities and avenues for change. Be flexible and teachable. Own your own emotions. Be willing to change.

2. Focus on God by giving thanks.
Giving thanks is a powerful way to return our attention to God, and put our problems in perspective. Give thanks for the following:

  • The situation, and that you are learning from it.
  • Who God is, and his faithfulness to you.
  • What God is showing you about the dilemma you are facing, and what His perspective might be.
  • What God offers you: strength, direction, His presence, and–most important–his promise to work everything to a good end.

3. Follow God’s Leading: ACT

  • ACT: Step forward in the direction you sense God is leading.
    If you really don’t know what to do, wait for clarity, if possible. If a decision is pressing, align your choice with previous ways He has led. Use your best judgment, after reviewing as much information as possible.
  • Sometimes you will misunderstand what He is telling you, and head off course. That’s OK. It happens a lot, actually. It is part of the process of learning to listen and follow. Think of it like this: it is much easier to steer a moving ship than one that is dead in the water. As you go, God will adjust your path and redirect you as needed.

4. Repeat

  • When you face difficulties, it is great to have a solid habit in place for dealing with challenges. Repetition creates habit. As you choose over and over to face, focus, and follow, you will build a pattern of strength and wisdom to address the next problem. Which, after all, is only two weeks away!

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Share with us! What practical tips do you use to overcome problems in your life?

Related posts: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem