"If you were a real man, you would be able to fix this. You haven't done enough yet." I'm not sure who said this to me, or when. Maybe it was more than one person. Maybe it was multiple times. Maybe it was never said at all--just inferred, interpreted, or perhaps completely imagined.
Regardless of how it made its way in, that message has found a home in my thought process, bonded itself to my DNA. I find myself automatically thinking, "I have to fix this. I can fix this. I have to do more." As if I've been programmed. Or I suffer from compulsion.
When there's a problem, I have to fix it. I have to do more. When there's a rock in the way, sitting in the middle of the road in front of me, I do everything to remove it.
I brainstorm. I problem solve. I make calculations. I derive solutions. I execute. (Like a boss, I might add.)
Then, the problem goes away. The rock gets tossed aside. That's the way it works. It works for MacGyver, it works for Jack Bauer, and it works for me. I dust off my hands, I eat a sandwich, and I take a victory nap. It's what I do--I fix the problem, and I fix it hard.
All is as God and the universe intends it.
Until I realize the problem is still there. The rock is back in the road. And it's bigger this time--heavier, taller, less prone to budge.
It's okay, though. I'm a man, and men fix things. A little elbow grease should do the trick. I roll up my sleeves and grit my teeth. I push, and I pull. I stomp, and I growl.
The tiny beads of sweat gathering on my forehead start to betray me.
The rock remains, seeming even larger than before. It towers above me now.
Curse words. Balled-up fists. This is an affront to my manliness.
And I begin to do more. Because that is the solution: more effort, more of myself, more bravado.
I grasp the rock with both hands, with ghost-white knuckles, and push until my back and chest burn, and my arms and legs scream until they're shaking like baby pines in a high wind.
I take a step back, square my shoulders, grind the ball of my foot into the ground, and sprint at full-speed toward the rock now. I collide with it. No movement. But I have to fix this. I have to do more. And so I slam into it again, my bone on its unforgiving stone. And I slam into it again. And again. And again.
I sink to my knees in the shadow of this huge rock, having bludgeoned myself almost beyond recognition.
It's there that a voice says to me,
"You can't fix this. There is no more you can do."
Even in my crumpled, bloody state, I don't believe it. My fingers scrape along the surface of the rock to find a hold, and I begin to lift myself to my feet.
But even the rock's shadow has become too heavy for me. I fall to my knees again.
You can't fix this.
There is no more you can do.
There are times in life when we have to dive in and get our hands dirty. We have to problem solve, think of a solution, and take care of the rock in the road before us.
Then there are times when those of us that are stubborn, that are proud, that are too self-reliant need to recognize that we can't fix everything. We can't do everything. Some jobs are God's to handle, or even someone else's to handle, but not ours.
Sometimes, in trying to fix a problem we weren't meant to fix, we break ourselves.
It has taken me a long, long time to understand and accept this simple phrase, to even allow myself to hear the words and let them fall on my heart like a light spring rain:
You can't do anything more.
You have done enough.
You are enough.