Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Solve a Lot of Problems

Let's face it: we've got problems.  Then again, so does everybody else.  If you are anything like me, there are days in which you look around and all that you see are problems.

No matter what problems you happen to be facing, you need to be willing to ask yourself two Very Important Questions: 1) what exactly is happening to me?, and 2) how can I make it stop?

For example, let's say that you are experiencing a searing pain in your head. You ask the Two Very Important Questions and realize that 1) what is happening to you is that your head is being gnawed on by a giant, mutant chipmunk, and that 2) you can make it stop by asking your friend to knock the chipmunk off with the aid of an aluminum baseball bat.

See? Problem solved!

Don't you wish it were always that easy? 

But it's not.

That's because there are some problems that--whether we'd like to admit it or not--are actually self-inflicted.  In such cases, we need to be willing not only to realize that 1) what is happening to us is our own fault, but also that 2) in order to make it stop, we must make some actual changes.

Ouch.

With that concept in mind, run your peepers over the following list of ways in which many of the world's pesky problems could be solved.

How to Solve a Lot of Problems:

1. Use things the way that they were intended to be used. If you decide to use a weed whacker any other way than its suggested use, you're in for a world of hurt.  When used correctly, a weed whacker will help you to leave your lawn looking trim and pristine.  When used incorrectly, it may whack your face off.  

The same can be said of the God-given institutions of the church and the family. When biblical principles are applied correctly, the church and family work together to provide a community with spiritual, social, and emotional care while simultaneously building its members and equipping them to meet the needs of those outside.  When principles are applied incorrectly, these two institutions devolve into something God never intended them to be: either as a social club, an enclave, a joke, a waste, or a tool of torment and repression. 

Want to solve a myriad of economic and social ills currently plaguing society? Use things the way that they were intended to be used. Get the church and the family back on track. After all, the church and the family are the foundations of biblically-ordained authority and the tools God intends to use to meet the problems of social justice. 

We cannot expect to maintain well-trimmed lawns painlessly if we insist on holding the weed whacker upside-down, and we cannot expect a painless, well-ordered society if we insist on abandoning or abusing God's basic institutions. 

Want happier kids, less crime, increased creativity, higher self-esteems, and a more stable society? Strengthen the family.1  Want aid for the poor, comfort for the elderly, and empowerment to the downtrodden? Strengthen the church.2 

 2. Clean up after yourself. This is one of the first principles that we learn in preschool, and one that will stand us in good stead throughout all phases of life.  After all, if you never clean up your house, you will wind up in one of those horrifying news stories about people whose homes have basically become glorified trash dumps.3 Fail to clean up after the choices that you make in life, and you will cause an even greater mess.  Although the results won't always be as visually revolting, you will have caused infinitely more pain.

Want to rid the world of a swath of emotional turmoil? Clean up after yourself. Take personal responsibility for your choices, whether they be good or bad.  (But especially when they are bad.) Admit your failings, ask for forgiveness, deal with the consequences, make amends.4

3. Love the life you have. The life that you have is much better than the life that you don't have in this one very important respect: you actually have it.  The life that you do not have may sound alluring, but it is important to remember that that life is not reality. It is fiction.5

You have people in your life. These people may not be perfect, but you have them.  Therefore, it is your job to love them6. There are benefits to being you: you may not fully comprehend what they are, but that does not mean that they do not exist. 

Want to circumvent some of the leading causes of discontentment, loneliness, and depression? Love the life you have! This is especially true if you are a Christ-follower. In that case, you have the added assurance that God intends to work everything in your life toward your good and His glory.7 You were created for a reason, and that reason is to bring glory to your Creator.  If that concept interrupts your very busy schedule of stressing, moping around, and/or bellyaching, all the better. God wants you to be busy letting His joy be your strength. 

So what if you may not be in a position to solve the world's problems.  Cheer up! You can solve some of them.  You can effect change in your own daily life and in the lives of those around you by using things as they were intended, cleaning up after yourself, and learning to love the life that you have.

NOTE: Yes, I understand that this post merely skims the surface of issues and has not taken everything into consideration.  Of course it hasn't. It's a thousand-word blog post that starts off with a rampaging chipmunk as its introduction. However, do not allow the cursory nature of this post to blind you truth of its arguments. 

______________________
1. See?
3.  Um, ew.
5. This is not to encourage fatalism or promote a passive acceptance of situations that can or should be changed. It is an encouragement, however, not to lose sight of the joy your current situation in life has to offer while you are busy pining for something that might come down the road or that God may not intend for you at all.
6. Jn. 13:34-35.Whether or not they love you is not the issue. 
7. Rm. 8:28 - Please note the conditions of this promise. 

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