My husband is kind of a traditional guy, in the sense that he isn’t all about feelings, he is more about “fixing it.” I sometimes speak of how men can be such verbs, actions words, as in they must be doing. The idea that sometimes the problem is not “the problem,” can be foreign to them, especially if they don’t operate in the realm of feelings and communication. So men have a tendency to want to just solve problems, to fix things.
It’s taken my hubby a long time to learn how to communicate, to realize that a big part of communication is simply listening and making sure someone feels heard. Often simply in the process of listening, you will have solved the problem inadvertently. Listening, and the important part, actually hearing someone and communicating that you have heard them, can feel more passive to men, who as I said, tend to be more interested in being verbs.
I remember once when the toaster broke, and my husband immediately said “I can’t fix it,” and I was so annoyed because I didn’t want the toaster fixed. I wanted him to listen to my lamentation about careless kids always breaking the toaster and how disrespectful that is. He was like, we’ll just buy another toaster and I’m like, “No, the toaster is not the problem. The toaster is a symptom of the problem, the problem being, you don’t hear me. You don’t listen.” The poor guy, I empathize now with how crazy that probably sounded to his ears.
At some point he began to catch on, and then he got really good at listening and simply addressing the underlying feelings as a way to “fix things.” It’s a bit funny, but he got so good at it, we had a leaky roof for about a year and I just kept putting buckets under it. I’d mention the roof was leaking and he’d empathize, address the feelings, make sure I felt heard…. and then I’d completely forget all about the roof. I kid you not, it took me nearly a year to wake up and to say, “No, I really do want the roof fixed, literally.”
That is how powerful it is to listen, that is how you can totally “fix it,” in the sense of bringing comfort and healing to someone without really lifting a finger. Learn how to listen and how to make people feel heard and it can change everything
My husband taught me something about God, about prayer, in that whole process of struggling to communicate. I always trusted that God would hear me and listen, but I never trusted that He could also actually fix it, in the literal sense. I can be such a fatalist, so I am more prone to go, “Well I guess this is just God’s will. Alas, sin is a real thing in the world. Guess we’re going to just have to suffer through it.”
In some 30 years it never occurred to me that I could ask God for anything beyond, “please help me live through this.” It took things getting pretty awful before I simply went boldly before the throne of grace (read hysterically and in a panic,) and spoke to God just like I would speak to my husband, “Lord, this is intolerable, fix it.”
God apparently, really is a man, because first He scared the heck out me by actually answering and then immediately preceding to do just that. To fix it. People wonder why God doesn’t show Himself more often, why He doesn’t always answer us audibly. Well, one reason is because it’s really scary to have close encounter of the God sort, as in fear of God sure puts fear of just about anything else in its proper perspective.
Since then I have been learning how to ask God to fix things and then how to just sit back and rest in His grace. If God says He’ll handle it, than He’ll handle it. I don’t have to lift a finger, although like a good Father, sometimes He does let me help with the easy parts.