A friend sent me this quote from the book "Yesterday, Today and Forever" by Maria von Trapp:
"By the way: this word, problem, has only slipped in here. It should really be eliminated from the vocabulary of a Christian. When we look at the first Christian era, we see there were no problems. If something came their way in the line of adversities, they treated it first as an obstacle. An obstacle we have to overcome. We have to do everything in our power to get rid of it. Only after we have tried everything and it still doesn't move, then we know. This is not an obstacle, this is a cross. If obstacles are meant to be overcome, crosses are meant to be borne, and if we can manage at all, borne gladly accordingly to His example. "Problems" are a dangerous hybrid of modern times. They seem to be meant only and solely to be talked about. How often you find when you earnestly try to help somebody with his problems, how often you learn to your own astonishment that he doesn't really want that. He needs problems in order to be able to talk about himself. This is a disease of our time......We shall be astonished when we notice how often the word creeps into our conversation, but we should consciously fight it."
That is a very powerful thought; one that I pondered over for quite some time on Monday. Quite often when adversities come our way, what is the first thing we do? If you're like me, it is to complain. I can't recall too often coming face to face with a small to medium sized "issue" (I'm trying not to say "problem" :) and pondering whether or not it was just an obstacle or if it was a cross to bear. You know, like a house full of crabby kids or a car that won't work when you need it to or an issue with a product that you just purchased. How often those are seen as problems to be complained about - both to myself and to anyone else who cares to listen.
At least with the big issues in my life, I seem to be able to correspond to the available graces better, and I tend to take more time to figure out what it is all about. Take, for example, the loss of a job or business. With something like that I am more apt to take a step back and look at the situation and ask myself whether it is something that God wants me to overcome or something I just need to take a deep breath about and deal with. Again, chalk that all up to grace.
I think this quote needs to be added to the ones I should be copying and posting all over my kitchen to remind me every day not to complain about the many small to medium sized trials. By stopping before I complain, I can decide whether I need to try to overcome them (like putting that crabby kid in his room till he shapes up!) or just realize that they will be my friend for the day and bear them patiently. I know from experience that spending time muttering and complaining about them is not going to get me anywhere good. Pay attention today and see how many times the word "problem" creeps into your thoughts or conversations, and math time doesn't count!