A few nights ago as I was putting the finishing decorating touches on our Christmas tree a dear friend and her husband came by. Our house was full of extended family and as they all chatted I continued to wind garland around the tree. Each time I made a pass around the tree I had to squeeze into the corner to place the garland on the back branches. My friend’s husband watched for a few moments as I made my tight orbit around the trunk before he strode across the living room toward me.
“You need to move that tree out from the wall,” he said.
Before I could utter a word he grabbed hold of the tree and lifted it up. As he did so the top part of the tree disconnected from the base. Undaunted, he hastily shoved it back on. Then repositioning his hand for better grip he moved the tree about a foot away from the wall.
I didn’t know what to say, but I’m sure my face revealed more than I wanted it to. After all, he had no idea that I had spent the last twenty minutes partnering with my affable son-in-law in the pursuit of the Christmas tree “sweet spot”. He didn’t know that the tree had already made a 16-foot journey across the room leaving a trail of major furniture adjustments in its wake before landing beautifully in the corner of the room.
He was just trying to help.
But now in the span of about twenty seconds my tree had been shifted from its perfect perch, its ornaments shaken from their special spots.
He was attempting to solve a problem he thought I was having.
I appreciated the thought behind his action, but it made me stop to think how many times I may have done that very same thing to someone else.
Impulsively jumped in and try to solve a problem that I thought existed without ever stopping to ask the person if they needed or even wanted my help. I’ve tried to instantly make something better that needed time on its own to heal.
As a teacher and mother the temptation to step right in and do too much can be a big temptation for me. I think I know the best way, the right answer, the easy fix. And there are times when I try to make it better that I am actually robbing someone else of the satisfaction of figuring it out on their own.
Or even worse, I am trying to fix a problem that only exists in my eyes. Because if the truth be told the real problem is…gulp….me.
Me and my need to control the situation.
Sometimes the best help comes in the form of listening instead of doing.
In whispered prayers and waiting.
And the keen awareness that what I might perceive as a problem, might just be somebody else’s sweet spot.