Pigeon-holed

Written by cycleguy on February 24th, 2014

You’ve seen and so have I:

ONE SIZE FITS ALL!

I don’t wear a “one-size-fits-all” shoe. Nor do I wear a “one-size-fits-all” pair of pants. (You might have trouble with mine). Not even my cycling clothes, helmet, gloves, or bike is a “one-size-fit-all,”

I have noticed (and unfortunately tried to do it) we often do the pigeon-hole exercise, i.e. what works for one will work for another. You and I both know that will not work…and yet…and yet…we try to do it.

First, we do it by judgment. That person is wearing a rainbow shirt so he/she must be (________).  The girl has purple hair or that guy has tats and piercings so he/she must be a rebel. I have a member of the church I pastor who is the General Manager of the Bloomington Harley-Davidson. What does that conjure up in your mind?

By the same case, we tend to pigeon-hole people into “fixes.” What fixes one fixes another. We know that is not and cannot be true. In her book, Not Marked, Mary Demuth quotes Ursula K. La Guin:

A creative child is a child who survived. (p,97)

What she is saying (in relation to Mary’s book) is this: there is no way we can take the “one-size-fits-all” approach to people’s problems. What works for one may not work for another. Raising children is that way. Raise more than one and see if they aren’t different. Tami loved to sit and learn to read. Janna hated it. It was going to be at her own speed. Same parentage. Same womb. Way different girls.

Helping people come to grips with their past (or present) is not a mass market process. Each one is unique and individual.

Giving that God is the one who “fixes” not us, how do you approach helping people “right” their ship?

 

26 Comments so far ↓

  1. the Old Adam says:

    God doesn’t “fix” us.

    He kills us. And starts over. That’s what Romans 6 is all about.

  2. Daniel says:

    As I was trying to deal with my divorce, far too many people got angry with me and told me to just get over it already. It has been many years and I still struggle daily with that loss. In fact, I have turned some people out of my life for their attitudes in this regard.

    • cycleguy says:

      I would probably do the same Daniel (put them out of my life). Some people process differently and no amount of “get over it” makes things any easier. I know we are miles apart and have never met, but I’ll stand with you.

  3. Andy says:

    Great question. I worked for an organization nearly 2 decades that would use a one size fits all approach, and you correctly surmise that results are mixed.

    I think that if you truly want to fix someone the counselor and the counselee need to both fully be invested.

    The counselor must take the time to sit down and do a skills inventory with the individual. When I was in college, I can remember doing SWOT analysis of courses of action. The same is relevant with people
    S: What are this persons strengths?
    W: What are this persons weaknesses?
    O: What Opportunities does this person have?
    T: What threats does this person have?

    Personally, I think its just as important to focus on the good, as the bad. Remember, we will be judged on our talents, skills etc. Each person brings something to the plate in this world.

    So, I kinda feel like half the battle is getting intimate enough to know who the person truly is, seeing their positive attributes, and then trying to connect the dots in ways that the strengths and opportunities can cover or transform the weaknesses and threats.

    • cycleguy says:

      You state what is absolutely correct Andy: part of the battle is getting intimate enough to know the other person. How can we know what makes a person tick unless we take the time to know them? SWOT sounds like a good approach.

  4. Rodney Olsen says:

    I used to think about those “One Size Fits All” t-shirts that one size might fit all … but some will look way more ridiculous in them than others.

    Knowing that we are all different, sometimes subtly and sometimes more obviously, means that we need to slow down and hear what’s really going on for those we’re trying to help. Then we need to really get to know them so that we can lead them towards wholeness and healing. That takes relationship and I think that’s just what God intends … real relationships instead of quick fixes.

    • cycleguy says:

      I had to chuckle with your first paragraph Rodney. The pictures are not good. 🙂 Your “slow down and hear” can stand right up alongside Andy’s “getting to know.” Good to hear from my my Australian friend. Hope the work with Compassion is going well.

  5. I know I can’t fix anyone. All I can do is love someone and let God do the rest.

  6. Eileen says:

    Great topic, Bill. Yes, sometimes it so hard not to think what helped me will help someone else. We all learn differently and have to take that into account. And you make a good point…we are not the ones doing the fixing.

  7. Kari Scare says:

    Listen a lot. This does way more good that trying to give advice that doesn’t fit. It also gives me ideas to fit within my own, unique mixture of what fits. I apply this to health and wellness physically and mentally as well as spiritually. We can apply & use general principles, but we all do so in a unique way. We all struggle, but we all do so uniquely. Get ideas from others, but find your unique path. That’s my “approach.” And yet, don’t we have to be careful that this doesn’t morph into a relative truth approach to all of life? Maybe a totally different topic altogether?

    • cycleguy says:

      You raise a good point Kari. It can develop into a relative truth thing in that “you can believe whatever you want to believe and I will what I want to.” yes, it a topic for a different discussion with more space. 🙂

  8. Betty Draper says:

    We chose the love approach with our son because we had tried that one shoe fits all approach and of course it failed. I can’t wait for Jared to write me out some of the details of when and how God got through to his heart.

    I think going to the mission field was how God really broke me of the one size fits all approach. It was there I realized I just need to get out of the way because God ways were not always the ways I had been taught. Good post.

    • cycleguy says:

      I love that you love your son enough to give him room to return and not force it. I also think mission fields would be a good place to learn diversity of approaches.

  9. floyd says:

    Not only with parenting, but with coaching and managing as well. It gets apparent really quickly how much different people are and the diverse needs each one has. The fact that we notice and care for others on an individual basis is wisdom from our Father who created all of us with differing strengths and weaknesses specifically to fulfill His good will.

    My days of pointing fingers and thinking I can know the heart of a person like God does is behind me…

    • cycleguy says:

      Most def Floyd. I have seen coaches try to coach the athletes the same and fail. They also think what worked one year works the next. Nope. Each athlete and each team is different. Good connection. Thanks. And for your last statement: I found it gets awful tiring trying to be God.

  10. tcavey says:

    God keeps reminding me that He creates us each uniquely. He created us and He knows how to “fix” us.
    I’m learning to seek Him first! Even before I pray for people or offer advice. I must seek Him first and see what He has to say.
    He loves us so much, enough to die, He wants us to be “fixed”. He gave us John 10:10 as a wonderful promise and warning. Satan will try to steal, kill and destroy us, but we have everything we need in Him.

    • cycleguy says:

      Seeking Him first is absolutely essential. I cannot begin to tell how many lives I have messed up by trying to answer or give advice under my own “wisdom.”

  11. Rick Dawson says:

    We’re all broken, but in different ways. God knows the repair work required for all of us, and the best of our human counselors know to suggest – not prescribe – and then get out of the way.

    Just my .02 worth… 🙂

  12. Kevin Bussey says:

    How do we right the ship? We ask God for wisdom & listen to people.

    • cycleguy says:

      Kevin! Dude it is sooo good to hear from you. i checked out your new blog. Looks like you have been at it for about a month again with a blog. Thanks for the words of wisdom and for coming by. I can add you to my Feedly list.

  13. Caleb Suko says:

    So true Bill, this is a huge lesson that my wife and I have also learned in parenting. We have to be so tuned in to our children’s needs because each personality is so different. I think a lot of life is this way, we want to cookie cutter things but we can’t because God wants us to stop and give our individual attention.