There's a word for people who have no problems … deceased. As long as we live in this world, problems will happen no matter what we do. Most of us end trouble with our relationships, jobs, money … everything we deal with. There is no way to live a life free of setbacks, disappointments, failures, abandonments and betrayals. Solving life problems is all about dealing with them in a way that does not break us but makes us stronger and more tenant.
Relationship Problems: These are some of the most serious issues we'll face. It starts with our parents and siblings and moves on to friends. It's complicated enough just to work things out between two people, but there are never just two people and never just one kind of relationship. Family, friends, parents, children and marriage all seem to require a different you. When you please one, others are upset and offended you did not do the same for them, or just ignored them, or something. Those who have no relationship problems have no relationships, which is a problem.
Problems On The Job: Just when we thought relationship issues were handled, we got a job and discovered a whole new set of complications. There's the pushy boss, the dishonest co-worker, the flirty person of different gender, the flirty person of the same gender (I live in California), the people who think they should have your job and the ones who think you're after their jobs, to name a few common ones. You all spend 8 hours a day in the same play pen, working through projects, deadlines, setbacks, shortcomings, back-stabbings, revolts, threats, audits, and team meetings … and that was just my ministry job. Can you say, "Stress in the workplace?" There's a reason more than 50% of heart attacks happen on Mondays. But, we have to have a job to earn money, at least before Welfare.
Problems With Money: You do not really have trouble until you have money trouble. Now we're talking problem with a capital P. At some time in our lives, we realize we're in competition with others. I noticed it first in 3rd grade when Tommy had Converse All Stars tennis shoes, but my parents could only afford Keds. In third grade, you had to have that star or you were not cool. So, now you're thirty or forty and the star has grown into a 2,500 square foot house, flashy SUV or import sedan, plasma TV, designer clothes, designer vacations and cell phones for the kids, so your seven-year-old can coordinate her social calendar. Somehow the word strapped does not quite say it … maybe hog-tied is a better term. I often counsel people who have money trouble, to add up all their credit card balances and then list the cost of everything they remember buying to get to that number. A precious few might remember half of the stuff that was so important that they went into debt for it. Imagine paying 20 years on Christmas gifts the kids broke within weeks.
One Solution To Life Problems: It's my hope that, like me, you saw yourself in the above paragraphs. These kinds of problems are so universal, they're common themes used in stories, from drama to comedy, even science fiction. Even suffering crimes, disease and abuse is common … everyone gets their share. The unusual thing would be to have few troubles, or none. Some problems are obvious and some hidden, but we've all got 'em, whether we admit it or not. The difference comes in how we deal with these issues and how they affect us. One person buckles down and makes improvements in his life … another becomes depressed and kills himself … why? All problems happen outside of us, but some people bring them inside and give them a home, nurture and feed them until the emotions are overwhelming. This brings us to one solution that works with all life problems … living inside out.
Living inside out means deciding that nothing happening outside of us will be allowed to control us, or our outlook on life. We can not change other people, mean co-workers, diseases, crimes … they just are, and we accept that they are. The rain falls on everyone, good and bad, alike. Based on how they've decided to be, inside, some people curse the rain … others use it productively, to quench thirst, wash, and grow things. Living inside out means using our problems to grow and strengthen ourselves. We can use relationship, job, money and other problems to identify those things inside us that need to improve, and improve them. Instead of cursing the things outside us we can not change, we change the things we can … those things inside us.
Living inside out means we can turn our problems inside out, making them tools with which to build a better life. Think about it! Without relationship problems, we'd be bored with everyone. Without work problems our employers would not need us. Without money problems we would never understand its value. Problems are the texture in the fabric of life, nothing more. Without them, our lives would be flat, lacking exclusion and fulfillment. How can we appreciate being loved if we've never been hated? How can we have the pleasure of success if we never fail? Trouble means we're still in the game! Next time a huge problem hits you, thank God, because it means you're alive and you still have important work to do and room to grow. If you do not have problems, check your pulse.