People are not problems to be solved

Most of us don’t long to be fixed, we long to be known

People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.
 — Eugene Peterson

I wonder what humanity would look like if we all had this attitude towards our fellow human beings.

Imagine if instead of trying to fix the problems of others, we spent time getting to know them—truly know them—and simply learn to be with them.

I don’t know about you, but I love solutions. I’m drawn to the idea of a quick fix, or five easy steps. I enjoy seeing someone’s problems and feeling that with my wonderful advice, their situation could be quickly turned around.

In other words: I want things to be simple and I want to feel important.

But people aren’t simple. We are not problems that, with a click of our fingers, can suddenly be fixed.

And if I want to be someone who is genuinely supportive to those around me, I need to keep my ego well out of their issues.

Human beings are wonderfully complex beings.

And the truth is that most of us aren’t going through life longing to be fixed; instead we long simply to be known. Or heard. Or understood.

Most of us instinctively know that there are no five-step solutions to the challenges in our life. Some of us understand that there will be things we’ll struggle with our whole lives. What we need is not some promise of an illusory quick fix; instead we need someone who will walk alongside us, no matter what, for better or for worse.

So Eugene Peterson has it exactly right. People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.

I know I need to be reminded of that. Reguarly.


Photo: Aimee Vogelsang

The longing to travel

When time constrains creativity