Monday, August 24, 2009

Fixing what's broken (by Billy Coffey)

“Dad, can you fix this?”

My son holds out his favorite toy, a super-duper Buzz Lightyear action figure complete with spring-loaded missile and nine (count them, nine) preprogrammed phrases. He strategically places himself between me and the baseball game on television, brazenly demanding immediate attention. I am normally left alone during Yankee games. Not because I require it—I do not—but because I tend to get a tad…involved.

“What’s wrong with it, bud?” I ask, keeping one eye on him and the other on the thing of beauty that is Robinson Cano’s swing.

“Dunno,” he answers. He turns his Buzz around, flips a switch and turns a knob, and shrugs.

Both eyes are on him now. My son is confused and dejected. He doesn’t know what’s wrong with his toy. All he knows is that it’s not what it’s supposed to be.

“Sure I can fix it,” I answer him. “No problem.”

And it isn’t a problem. I know what’s wrong with is toy. And I can make it what it’s supposed to be, too. All I need is a screwdriver, some batteries, and a little time.

He takes a seat beside me on the couch and fidgets. I think it’s because the Yankees have just stranded two runners on base, but I’m wrong. No, he just wants to play. Not iin a few minutes or a little while. Now.

“Hurry up, Daddy,” he says.

“Hang on,” I answer, prying the cover off the battery compartment.

More fidgeting. Then, “Daddy?”


“I don’t think you know what you’re doing.”

I raise my head and offer a look that is half question and half amusement.

“Why’s that?” I asked him.

“Because you’re taking too long. If you knew how to fix it, you’d hurry up.” He sighs and adds, “I’d be playing by now.”

“Just wait and see,” I tell him. “I’ll have it fixed in a minute.”

But my son can’t wait and so doesn’t see. “Never mind,” he says. “I’ll just go fix it myself.” He grabs the Buzz Lightyear from my hand and trudges off to his room carrying it upside down by the right foot.

I shake my head in a fatherly way. Kids are so impatient nowadays, I think to myself. I know what he’ll do. He’ll go back to his room and play with his Buzz Lightyear for a while, substituting the real sounds of laser blasts and Tim Allen’s voice with his own paltry imitations. He’ll flip switches and turn knobs and pretend everything’s working just fine, but it won’t last long. He won’t have the patience for that, either.

I know this because as my son, he carries around inside of himself bits and pieces of me. He has my smile, my eyes, my skin. And there are the deeper things too, like a common desire to put people at ease and a constant craving for ice cream.

And also to be impatient. With everything.

“Father,” I often say to God, “can you fix this? Fix this problem or this situation. Fix this life. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, I just know it’s broken.”

“Sure I can fix it,” God answers. “No problem.”

And it isn’t a problem. God knows what’s wrong. And more, He can fix it. All he needs is a little grace, a little mercy, and a little time.

So I’ll sit beside Him for a while and watch. But then I start to fidget.

“Hurry,” I say.

“Hang on,” He answers.

I fidget more. Time passes, and I begin to wonder if He really knows what He’s doing. If He did, I’d be better by now. I tell him so.

“Wait and see,” He says.

But I can’t wait. And because I can’t wait, I don’t see.

“I’ll just fix it myself,” I finally say. I take my problem back and trudge off, pretending that everything is just fine.

That’s how it is with my son and me. And with me and God, too. But I know this: my son will be back. Imagination can carry one only so far. Pretending is great, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. He’ll realize that fixing what’s broken is worth the wait. Especially when he knows he can’t fix it on his own.

And it’s for those very reasons that God knows I’ll be back, too.

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at What I Learned Today and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Also, for you writerly types in search of an agent, check out this article by Billy on Guide to Literary Agents: How I got my agent.


Anonymous said...

I think this might be one of my 'favorites'. Great post!

Denise said...

Such a wonderful post my friend.

KM Wilsher said...

Okay that's me. Mostly with guys, "Here's one God, fix him."
Ohhh, He says, "But you've got some fixin' needed too." I say, "Oh look at this one, can you fix him?"
All in fun BC, but I really liked this post.
I do take the problem back, and most times pretend I didn't LOL.
(look at that. who made that mess. wasn't me.)
I'm wtih Bridget, I think this is a fav :)

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

I can just see you up on the bed, sitting next to God, your Daddy, with your legs dangling with hurry-it-up patience. And I see your Daddy's smile, kind and sure.

Thanks for this story, reminding me He'll still help me fix my broken parts. 'Cuz He's my Daddy, too.

Very satisfying. Thanks, Billy.

Heather Sunseri said...

Awesome, Billy! I've been a little impatient lately, so thanks for the reminder to "chill out!"

Joanne Sher said...

What a fabulous reminder for impatient me (oh yeah! BIG time!). Great storytelling, as usual, and a lesson we all need to hear.

Mich said...

Great post!

Oh, how I am that impatient kid at times...

sherri said...


Candace Jean July 16 said...

Yes. No. Not yet. He fixes things every time, though. Brilliantly illustrated, Billy!

Sarah Salter said...

It's often been said that I'm like my Biblical namesake--trying to "help" God. And maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem to get any easier to wait on Isaac when there are so many Ishmael's that I could settle for...

Amy Sorrells said...

Love this! And brokenness! And Buzzy!

~Brenda said...

Patience is a virtue, and therefore I must not be a virtuous woman. I like things to be fixed, and I like 'em to be fixed now.

But some things are beyond our control, and God is having His way with me when it comes to giving a bit of patience. This is both comforting and, well ... annoying. :-)

Great post. Thanks for sharing.


Annie K said...

I think that if everything that was broken was fixed in our time (meaning yesterday) we'd never learn a darn thing. Life's biggest lessons are learned while waiting...

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Very effective story. I know I'm impatient.

But I'm confused: Are you saying that God makes us wait because he gets a tad involved in Yankees games?

~*Michelle*~ said...

Bravo! Bravo! What an awesome representation of the loving, compassionate and patient God we serve!

I constantly grab back "my toy" and try to fix it myself.....only to hand it back to God more broken then before.

This was great!

Doug Spurling said...

"But I can’t wait. And because I can’t wait, I don’t see."

How many times have I missed God's blessing because I couldn't wait? Gotten myself into places I didn't want to be because of my impatience?

But...I know God can fix it. I know He can use me as part of the solution to make it the way it's suppose to be.

I know this because as His son, I carry around inside of me bits and pieces of Him.

This was awesome and I needed to hear it. Thanks.

How you take the simplest things I would overlook and turn them into masterpieces is simpy amazing.

April said...

Perhaps I need to work on having more patience...thanks, Billy, for another heart-warmer!

April said...

Perhaps I need to work on having more patience...thanks, Billy, for another heart-warmer!

Billy Coffey said...

Steph - God told me He's a Yankees fan. So if you really want to get on His good side, go buy a Derek Jeter jersey and wear it to church next Sunday. Trust me.

jasonS said...

I knew where you were going with this one and I still loved it so much. It's so true and the truth is powerful. Thanks Billy.

Beth E. said...

Oh, yes...I'm definitely guilty of saying, "Hurry up." I have prayed, "Lord, if you're putting me through this situation to try to teach me something, please help me to hurry and understand it." Telling God to hurry...I'm ashamed!

Another great post, Billy Coffey...
Beth E.

Kenny said...

In addition to being impatient I also like to give God instructions about the best way to fix it.

Laura said...


Please. Get. Off. My. Toes.



I'm so glad we have the ultimate Mr. Fixit, aren't you?

lynnmosher said...

Oh, Billy-boy! You always spin the greatest divine tales! I love each one. I'm so glad I get to read them. Blessings to you!

Stacey said...

Such a great post, Billy. I love these lines:
"He’ll realize that fixing what’s broken is worth the wait. Especially when he knows he can’t fix it on his own."

This really speaks to me. I can't wait to someday see that it was all worth the wait.

Helen said...

Wow. So very true.