I love A PROBLEM. I know I am not supposed to, but there you have it. I love a problem because I love problem solving. How can you do that without a problem?
I remember back in math class in school. Most people hated word problems. I loved them. For me they made math come alive. I understood why I needed to do a math problem if Johnny had three oranges, 6 apples 4 pears, and one plum and someone wanted to take away half of them away from him. I fought about that sort of thing with my siblings all of the time. I especially loved the problems where they tried to trick you….where they put in irrelevant information, just to see you squirm. When you realized it was irrelevant, it was like that light bulb going off in your head. You were in on the joke. “No teacher, you’re not catching me on this!” Triumph!
I get that same feeling in life. I admittedly overthink most things. That’s why I usually have an opinion on everything…..my mind has probably gone there at some point. It just takes someone talking on the radio, or an article in a magazine, or a comment on the Internet. It can keep me thinking for hours. I don’t reach resolutions quickly. Often I reach none at all. In some I just mentally surrender. But then I get in a conversation with someone about it, and people throw other opinions in there giving me additional information, the fun begins again.
There’s a reason I often have a muddled mind and sometimes am in my own little world.
When I am traveling, there have been times when my heart has almost stopped over a problem. Like getting lost. You can wander around Statesville and eventually you’ll see something familiar. (Yeah, like I am wandering over Statesville. We know I would most likely be driving. But still lost). My friends and I were in Athens, Greece years ago and we got to wandering. I wasn’t worried. I had both a map and a card with the address for our hotel. At some point we realized we had no clue as to where we were. No problem….I pulled out the map. Well, the road signs were in Greek, the map used the English alphabet. I must say that was the only time I regretted not pledging a sorority in college (they learn the Greek alphabet there. Or at least part of it!) So OK, can’t use the map. Not a problem….we’d get a cab. I had the hotel address. I still don’t know why, but none of the cab drivers we stopped would take us back to our hotel. They’d say “No” and pull away from the curb. We would stand there, utterly confused. It was like a comedy movie. But we were out of options. I figured we’d figure something out, because in the past however lost I had been, I’d eventually gotten home. Every single time. But there was another side of me that wondered if possibly job hunting in Athens may be easier than finding my way there this time.
Since we couldn’t seem to find anyone to help us, we just walked around. I prayed. You know my spiritual eloquence. “God, you know where we are, right? Give us a hand here!” And we kept walking….occasionally asking someone who didn’t help us. Finally I saw something that looked familiar. My friends didn’t believe me at first, but I knew that was our way back. Finally they decided to follow me. Only because they didn’t have any better ideas. I was right. We had passed it before and eventually we got back to our bus stop, and then back to our hotel. Problem solved. High five God! (But I do still hold a bit of a grudge against Athens. Yes…the whole city.)
As much as they bamboozle us, these problems are easy compared to the problems that come up maneuvering through our normal life. Sometimes those problems I can do without. How do we live until our next paycheck in two weeks on the $12 that remains after we pay our bills? Is a friend giving us the cold shoulder because they are mad at us, or is something going on with them? When do we leave a job and when do we stay? What if they fire us or lay us off….how will we pay the bills? How do we deal with an overwhelming work load and not enough hours in the day? How do we help someone we love that is making stupid decisions in our lives? Why is our life disappointing us a bit? Sometimes with these problems the adrenaline gets us in high gear to the point it paralyzes us. We feel like a kid in a spelling bee with no idea how to spell a word. Deer in the headlights.
I think sometimes we need to cede the problem. Go to God like I did in Greece. He knows where you are….and he knows how to get you back on the path. Sometimes we have to open our eyes and look around to see what direction to pursue next. Sometimes we need to ask for help. Sometimes we need to endure a lot of rejection before we find the right person or place. But there’s always a next step we can take, another idea. It takes persistence.
I love a problem because sometimes it brings out my creative side. Sometimes it brings out management skills. Sometimes it causes me to go out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it causes me to ask for help. Always it makes me live life….and it reminds me that however things look at the present, I always get back home.