Challenges

I’d like to say that I’ve been thinking about challenges. I have not. I avoid the thought because I am completely overwhelmed, inundated, and surrounded by challenges. And the list grows by the minute.

The list ranges from, “Will I make odd sounds when I sit down? Will they be even odder when I stand up? Can I even stand up? Is there a plan for my life? Am I even close to the trail? Am I going in the right direction on the trail or have I somehow got turned around?

Alright, maybe I have looked a little at challenges. So what do I do about it, about them?

I could take the time to announce to the world the complexity of my challenge. I have a trick knee. It stops me from running because I never know when I will fall on my face. It is painful and debilitating, I have received compassion from many folks. Even one legged veterans! I can complain… I am allowed to be an idiot.

First, it’s not a bad thing to cover it all in prayer, several prayers. Be careful not to pray for the removal of challenge. It maybe the one thing that you need most. Muscle is not built by relaxation, muscle is built by exercise.

1. So, the first physical thing to address challenges is to show up. Gosh, that sounds so simplistic, but it’s true. Most of us have a natural tendency to react to challenge and stress by simply ignoring it. Make it go away, don’t look at it!

Showing up counters that natural reaction and positions you to take proactive steps.

2. The next thing is partly analysis and partly containment. Any good puzzle solver will tell you, “Find the edges, fill in the border.” This works because of two things, 1. You know where the puzzle stops. 2. It’s easier because the possible solutions are less in number.

I can’t emphasis the importance in finding the edges of any challenge. It contains the problem, gives it shape, and may give you clues to looking at the solution from a different angle.

3. And finally, seek help. Yes, we can often address our challenges on our own, but a deaf, dumb blind girl can also use some help in order to become Helen Keller.

Rethink! Maybe the first thing to remember is the fact that we are never alone. Yes, we can think that we are, and we can act as if we are, but that is not the reality. We are told, that as Christians, the Spirit is always with us. In Greek the term is Paraclete, standing along side, holding us up.

This Passover season I was once again reminded of the Israelites in the desert complaining. “I don’t care if we are free, I want to eat melons! There are melons back in Egypt!”

I have spent years thinking badly about the unfaithful and ungrateful. But here is the thing. They were challenged and they did not have help. In the Tanakh the Spirit existed and fell upon individuals, kings, and prophets and regular folk. The Spirit also left them suddenly without warning. Without the Spirit, they had no chance for help.

That is not the case for today’s Christian. The Spirit is accessible and you are not alone.

This does not suggest that you do not need help from others, or that you are not called to render help to others.

Challenges can be a group effort. Family bonds, friendship and accountability groups are all wonderful tools to assist in the solution. You might find that a rigid and monitored solution is best. You might also find that just a helping hand works wonders.

Know this, that you are not alone. The challenge can be defined and contained. The solution to the challenge is often the choice you make in how to react to the challenge.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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