Meet Molly, my furry friend of six years! I love her dearly, but she is relentless when she wants my attention. She constantly wants to play and I mean constantly. If I don’t play with her on her timeline, she begins to nag me and nag me. If I continue to ignore her, she goes and gets our clean,mismatched socks from the laundry room and begins to throw them at me. If I ignore this, then she begins to go around the house looking for trouble to get into so that I am sure to pay attention to her. After she has tormented me, I finally get the message and deal with my furry “problem”. After I take care of her needs, she generally sleeps the rest of the day and I wonder why it took me so long to just go throw a ball outside for 10 minutes!
As a general rule, problems don’t go away on their own and they tend to get bigger the longer we ignore them. So what is so stressful about taking care of “problems”? Why don’t we do it sooner? Most of the time, we think we have more time to deal with it “later”. Then, “later” comes and it’s still there, hanging in the balance. Other reasons include fear, the self confidence needed to attack the problem, or we would rather someone else solve our problems for us and thwart our responsibility on to others. Sometimes, we get really spiritual with our problems and say “the Lord will take care of that in time”, when in reality, the Lord has probably already given us the capability or the resources needed to take care of it. It’s just that the changes that have to take place in our life to make it happen seem too hard.
Molly reminds me of some of the other “problems” we encounter in life. Take children for example: I am a fixer and a doer for my family. When my children were little they would sometimes forget their lunches, and I would gladly take the lunch to them. When they would wait to do their homework until 10 p.m., I would stay up with them ’til midnight. When there was a project that got put off, I would sometimes “help” to get it finished. I didn’t see this as a real “problem” when my kids were little, but then when they got bigger, so did the problems. This is when I started telling the Lord that we had problems! I just couldn’t believe that they could “forget” important things. I mean, they were so intelligent and my son never forgot to get himself to his job! My daughter never forgot what time she had to go over to babysit, so what was it about the things I needed them to do around the house and school that was so tough? “Okay Lord”, I said. “What is the real problem?” He told me loud and clear. “YOU!!!!” After I addressed the true problem and did the hard thing, which was to let my children experience the consequence of their mistakes, it didn’t take long for their “problems” and mine to go away. Walah! No more stress. Their responsibility was given back to them and they dealt with it accordingly because they are good kids. Do we still struggle? Of course! Don’t we all? Is it easier now? Yes, it is. I realize the potential pitfalls of my “flesh” nature and I correct faster now. Was it hard? Yes, it was because I never like to see my children fail, be sad or dissappointed. But…that’s part of God’s discipline in this life for all of us and although it is tough for me to watch, it’s a necesary part of life for them to become dependant on the Lord. My love for them had to be tough, because life is tough. I can see the results of letting the Lord take over in the life of my children and it is good!
Here are some things I’ve learned about solving problems, from my “problems”! I hope these things speak to you and help you alleviate some of the stress that life’s problems bring:
- Admit to yourself that there is a problem. Living in denial, accelerates and ecentuates any problem big or small. (This is especially true if you are dealing with a health issue!)
- Realize that the result of a problem is not actually the problem. Dig deep and uncover the layers of consequence to find out what the actual problem is. Example: Molly isn’t a crazy, maniac dog that I need to get rid of. Molly is a high energy creature that needs to be exercised. So, the problem is actually not Molly, but my lack of attention, as a responsible dog owner to a high energy pet. Here are some other examples to think about: A weight “problem” could be a self esteem “problem”, an alcohol “problem” could be a neglected issue of abuse in the past “problem”, an angry husband “problem” could be a disrespectful wife “problem”.
- Seek truth, through God’s Word and prayer for the solution to your problem. Many times, the Lord has already equipped within you with the knowledge you need, but our flesh wants to act selfishly and not do what we know we need to do, according to His truth. John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
- Begin to change yourself, instead of trying to change others to solve the problem. As much as I have tried to change Molly into being a lap dog that loves to cuddle and sleep all day, and even thought about tranquilizers at one time or another, I realize that it’s not who she is and that I must solve the problem by being the solution if I want to have a relationship with Molly that is good and not stressful. So, I begin to change my behavior by penciling in “ball time” on the calendar! James 1:23-24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
- Now is the time to implement a solution, not later. Now is the time, because later brings with it other problems to deal with and we don’t want to become snowballed. Take them, disect them, and solve them as they come and you will have peace of mind. Proverbs 10:5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
- Understand that if relationships are involved in your problem, that relationships will change when you address a problem. Be prepared for those changes and prepare your family and/or friends. My kids didn’t necessarily love it at first when I gave them back their responsibility. The warm, fuzzy feelings came back later when they were successful and felt good about accomplishing those tasks on their own. Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
- Know that when you begin to solve your own problems, you gain wisdom and when you gain wisdom, you can share. When you share from your heart the things that you have been through, you gain influence in the lives of those that need assistance. Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
Maybe this is new to you and you have ignored some big problems in your life for a long time because of “fear of failure”. Do not stress. Be encouraged by the Lord through these scriptures:
- 2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
- Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
So, I just went out today in the cold and threw three balls! Just three and now Molly is all warm, snuggled up on the couch, and very quiet. I’m blogging away without interruption and enjoying “my solution” very much.
For those of you who would like to hear more about problem solving as it relates to family life, please come to Keepers of the Heart and Home at First Baptist Atlanta tomorrow, 1/28, at 10:00 a.m. I will be teaching on this topic tomorrow.