No easy fix for personal problems

We live in an instant society. Everything is a quick and an easy fix. That includes meal preparation (can you believe the microwavable bread, rice, vegetables and meals?). Our instant society also includes transportation, communication and even your vocation. You can earn a degree from home, work from home (in some cases) and even order groceries to be delivered to your home. However, when it comes to some of our “personal” lives and their problems, they are not so easy to fix or dispose of.

It may be that you have a grown son or daughter who is an addict to either drugs or alcohol or maybe even worse: both!

You may have a loved one with mental illness or brain disease. Possibly there is an abusive person in your home or workplace that seems determined to destroy you right along with themselves. Maybe you work in a vocation you loathe! These and many other problems can leave you in much personal pain and anguish. You can, however, ease your burden – you may not be able to solve your proverbial problem – but you can, by God’s grace, learn some practices concerning resilience that will make your life not only bearable, but actually enable you to find joy in your everyday living.

Do not make a god or an “idol” out of your problem. You may discover that this problem has become to you “bigger than life.” You possibly devote most of your time milling this problem through your mind and exhausting most of your energy and time trying to solve or “fix” this problem. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, deserves this kind of place in our lives. The problem may be a part of your life, but it is not or should not be your entire life.

The solution is to make your problem a part of your life, but not the center of everything in your life! My motto in life when life threatens to overwhelm me is simply this: “this too shall pass.” Though your circumstances seem as if nothing will ever change, trust me on this: the only thing constant in life is change! Things have a way of changing in a second of time. Keep hoping that things will not always be so difficult and there will truly be light at the end of your tunnel.

Come to terms with the fact that the only person on the face of this earth that you can change is, get this: you. Yes, that is right. We can beg, plea, pray and sacrifice, but we are only capable of changing ourselves, our outlook, and our thoughts. You see, all people have a free will. If the person can change and won’t, you cannot make them change. Therefore, if your problem is a person, realize that you simply cannot change that person. I am a proverbial “fixer.” We “fixers” exist in homes, workplaces, churches and even the grocery store, and we tend to want to take other people’s problems and make them our own. This is actually counterproductive, however. Many times the old saying about reaping what one’s sows is the best possible outcome for many people in need of “fixing.” When we continually rescue someone on a downward path, we enable them to continue on that path. On the contray, stepping back and allowing them to come face to face with themselves is often the best therapy for that person.

Another way you can keep a problem from taking over your life is by controlling your thought life. I heard once that “mind control is actually mind occupation.” You can only have one thought at a time, and you decide what that thought will be. Personally, I like meditating on scripture or by singing scripture songs. I particularly like the Psalms, and by playing them over and over in my mind, and singing and praying them, my mind and my life is transformed.

Also, allowing the problem to be in all of your conversations is futile. Then, it creeps back in as No. 1 in your life. Yes, there will be times in which you will need to talk about it, but do not allow it to take over your life and your home that should be your haven. Refuse to allow the problem to dominate your conversations and thus your lives.

Count on other people for support. I conduct a grief support and sharing group that allows people to discuss their grief with others who are suffering in a like manner. I’ve also heard of a support group in some cities called S.O.S. It is for the survivors of suicide. Church is an awesome place to find like-minded people to help lighten loads and carry burdens. It is amazing, when you get involved in the hurts and hearts of others, how therapeutic it is to your own self and how much perspective you regain.

If you are caring for a disabled loved one, who requires constant attention, you need to lighten your load by getting someone to “pinch hit” for you. You need respite on a regular basis. Because many of the brain illnesses, such as Alzheimers, Pick’s disease, and Lewy Body Dementia can span two-plus decades, it is imperative that you take care of yourself. Many caregivers die before their loved ones because of the tremendous stress that such an illness creates. Now, I did not tell you that to discourage you, but only to help you see that you need respite care and it is the kindest thing you can do for your loved one and for yourself.

I heard a person say a few weeks ago that sometimes we are trying to shoulder something that God did not intend for us to carry. “The only thing,” he continued, “you can do about it is to give it to God.” Now, if you are like me, you will try to pick it back up from a different perspective or in various ways. But by literally opening my hands and offering my problem to God is the best gift I can give Him. There should only be one God in our lives. Allowing problems, people, or dilemmas to take his place would be idolatry.

Wayne Oates, Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said this: “Pray regularly that God will shed some new light on the situation. Wait and watch, but don’t take it back in your hands to solve.” This will enable you to think about other problems you can do something about. Pray the Serentiy Prayer: “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” To the day’s challenges, respond calmly, doing what you can reasonably do to deal with the situation at hand.

Then consciously enter an act of surrender. Push yourself away, put distance between the problem and you. God has the gift of serenity waiting for you. Begin to accept it. Now.