As ‘problems’ go most of us move through a wide variety of them daily without much fanfare. Who is going to pick up the kids after practice and when do they need to be there? What to toss into the crock pot for dinner tonight or checking the bank account balance before picking up the laundry. Squeezing in a workout while trying to decide where to eat between work and soccer practice for the kids.
Problems come and problems go. Then again, there are those problems that linger. Nagging resentments, annoyingly repetitive behaviors, bad habits, frustrating neighbors, overbearing bosses. These problems nag at us; but, in general, we learn to live with them. We must learn to live with them because more important things overshadow the urgency of addressing these things.
Then there are those significant problems that pound on the door for our attention. These challenges don’t care about whether or not their timing is convenient, nor do they pay attention to whether or not you are ready for them. They are here. You must deal with them. You cannot ignore them. Deal with them, NOW!
This is not to say that we do not try to put them off for a more convenient time or when we feel that we are ready to address them. We workaround them, change our behavior patterns, seek out new relationships or drop old ones. The problem becomes the elephant in the room that we have walked around, ignored, avoided and refused to talk about; but, it is still there, growing, devouring our resources, smelling, making more messes and behaving rudely.
Sometimes delaying action on problems is wise. Indeed, Aaron Burr is credited for contrasting the maxim ‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today’ with ‘Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow.’ While often used derogatorily in reference to the procrastinator’s excuse, his logic was that premature action may cause regret when a better option may have materialized by delay. There is wisdom for timing the intervention.
Nonetheless, in the end, there comes a time when we must deal with our challenges and there are times when we need help. It’s ok. Oftentimes, it is that first dialing of the number of a trusted friend or family member, pastor or counselor that truly indicates that you are moving in the direction of resolution. That first phone call or the first conversation about the problem can be among the healthiest signs of all.