During a morning walk with my friend, he shared a bit of wisdom, “There’s a clear and simple solution to every problem….and it’s usually wrong!”
A little over two years ago, my wife took our minivan to the dealership and they told her it was going to cost about six hundred dollars just to pull apart the dash to see what was wrong and restore the heat. We were stymied. After all, the “experts” had spoken on the issue and that was that.
Fast forward two years and my wife threw down the gauntlet and said it was time to replace the vehicle. No problem, but I’m the worse salesman in the world and told everyone interested in the van what was wrong with it. I sleep really good at night though :-). However, despite my honesty, we were having a hard time selling the van. Not too many people want a vehicle without heat in the Northeast. Go figure!
Long story short, after many hours of trouble shooting and repeated attempts, I discovered what was wrong and fixed it! The motor that works the mixer door under the dash had died, leaving the flap closed so that no heat could enter the ductwork. The van now has luxurious heat….it’s like sitting in front of a fireplace and it cost me zero dollars to repair. Want to buy it?
I don’t know what challenge or problem you’re facing right now, but I do know one thing. There’s a clear and simple solution to your problem and it’s usually wrong. That’s not to say that some things aren’t easy to figure out. However, long, ongoing issues are evidence that the solution you’re in need of may take some time and wisdom, not to mention repeated attempts. But one thing is for sure, if you do nothing, nothing will change.
Most of us, however, do SOMETHING. The problem is we don’t do enough of something.
We go to the gym….for a week. We date our spouse once a week….for a month. We go back to school….for a semester. The problem is we’re starting and stopping so much that we never follow through with anything. Then a pattern of giving up begins. And it gets easier and easier to keep giving up. Eventually, the least little bit of resistance is enough to ground our dreams and plans. Unfortunately, our kids watch us and catch the disease
Here are just a few thoughts on problem solving.
Walk away from the problem. Not permanently, but temporarily. Take a break. Take a walk. Unplug until you are able to come back to the problem with fresh eyes and a refreshed spirit. My grandfather, a wise old farmer, taught me this trick years ago and trust me, there are plenty of conundrums when you own a farm. So stop doing the same thing over and over and getting worn out. Take a break. Maybe you need to research your problem a bit more. Maybe this challenge is a valuable education in disguise. The knowledge it has to teach you may be helpful for years to come.
Pray. This one ought to come before walking away from the problem. However, if you’re like me, it’s fitting. I can’t count the times I’ve attempted something then prayed. In the words of Jesus’ half-brother James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Pound for pound, there’s a lot of wisdom packed in that verse. Ask God specifically to provide you with a clear and simple solution to your problem.
Wait. Not to work on the problem, but for the solution. Sometimes it’s only a matter of time. I know an innocent guy who spent years in prison before he was finally freed. In the meantime, he used his gifts as best as he could and further developed his character. In the meantime, his patience muscle grew. His name was Joseph and you can read about him in Genesis chapters 37-50. As a pastor, I constantly tell people, “It took you years to get in the mess you’re in and it may take just as long to get things straightened out”. Attending church one Sunday isn’t going to solve all of your problems, stick around for the long haul.
Remember, there’s a clear and simple solution to every problem, and it’s usually wrong.
Simple solutions take the form of flight. It’s much easier to run from the bears in our lives than to attack them….or so it seems. Eventually the bears catch up with us and we still have to face them. It takes a lot less energy to face your problems than to run from them.
You know the story. A man was missing from home for six months! That’s a long time. Finally, his wife heard a knock at the door and she opened it to find her husband standing there in filthy rags. One shoe was missing. “What happened?”, she asked. “Well,” he replied, “I got chased by a bear for two weeks.” “Chased by a bear for two weeks? You’ve been gone for six months! Where were you the rest of the time?” she asked. “Well, I’ve been walking back!”, he answered.
We can run from our problems and to be quite honest, it feels pretty good sometimes. However, most of the time we’re better off committing to solving our problems rather than running from them. In the words of my good friend, “There’s a clear and simple solution to every problem, and it’s usually wrong.”