Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Just recently I have had some dealings with a lady who is struggling with a number of issues (and who of us isn’t?). We’ve talked a few times now and one thing that has consistently surfaced is that this person has a problem for every solution.
Her issues are many and varied, and despite the fact that she does not suffer with depression, her demeanor appears to be without hope for any good outcome. No matter what solutions are offered, she has a reason why these do not/will not/cannot work for her. Regardless of whether the issues are physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, whether they are to do with her accommodation, her family, her lifestyle, she is set on the fact that nothing works for her, and nor will it ever.
And yet she’s asking for help with her problems.
Many years ago my husband had a work colleague with a similar malady. No matter what her problem was, or what solutions were provided, this person always had something to complain about. Even good outcomes yielded downsides for her. Nothing really ever worked toward making her happy or satisfied with the results.
One day, as she sat on the other side of Rick’s desk, complaining about another aspect of her work, he said to her: ‘Philomena*, just what would it take to make you satisfied?’ Philomena looked a little startled at the question and thought for a while before finally saying in a candid flash of transparency ‘Actually, I’m not sure that anything would satisfy me.’
Have you heard that little joke about the pessimist and the optimist quarrelling about whether the glass of water was half full or half empty, and while they were arguing, the opportunist drank it?
There are many things in our life that we don’t get any choice about. Good and bad happens to all of us. The only thing we really have any jurisdiction over is our attitude. No one is ever a victim of their own thoughts. It’s true that negative thoughts come unbidden, but once we realise the general direction of our thinking, we get to choose whether or not we will stay and soak in them like a lukewarm bath we just can’t be bothered to get out of, or whether we will deal with them and bring them into line with the direction we want our attitudes to go.
Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart with all diligence, for it determines the course of your life.
No one said that it would be easy to maintain your heart to continue in a good direction. It takes effort, but it can be done, and the more you choose to take control of your thoughts, the easier it is to do. Whatever you allow your thoughts to be will determine the person you become. If you constantly harp on the negative, the broken, the ‘what isn’t’ rather than the ‘what is’, that’s all you can see and ultimately, that’s all you will have.
I recently saw a picture that was just a blank page with a large black spot in the centre of it. Some people are so focused on the black spot that they can’t see the possibilities of that beautiful blank page, so full of potential. What picture could be painted there? What fantastic story could be written? What puzzles could be formed? What patterns could it be shaped into? What business plans could be written on it? What new inventions could be sketched there?
You’ll never know if you’re so taken up with the black spot that you can’t see all the opportunities you have to create something totally new and different. One of the first and greatest things that can be created if you choose it, is a strong, courageous, encouraging, faith filled character.
Regardless of your temperament type, any believer in Christ has the authority in her own life to become an optimist. Why? Because an optimist, in the purest form, is someone whose hope is in Christ and who is sure that no matter what happens, He is able to turn every difficult, painful, sad and problematic situation into something that will not only work out in the end, but will ultimately be able to be turned for good.
Apart from being downright boring, chronic complainers seem to cast a pall of gloom and disappointment over everything they speak of, and those in their circle of influence who don’t want to live like that have to make deliberate choices not to allow those negative perspectives to creep into their own hearts. It’s not easy to be with someone who never sees good in anything. Conversely, it makes your heart lighter and your way easier when you have been with someone who has trained their thoughts and therefore their heart to look for ways to make life work well.
For any serious seeker of a whole and healthy life, getting rid of the habit of complaining will be one of the best things you can do. Those who choose to look for solutions rather than for more problems end up living stronger, laughing more, loving freely.
The capacity to look for a way to make life work, rather than somehow getting a certain secret sort of satisfaction when it doesn’t, is a gift that too few people have. It’s worth the effort to look past the difficulties to find the solutions. The people who do that are the leaders of their worlds, their communities, their families and their own lives. They may not have a title, but they have the will and the wherewithal to bring breakthrough, provide strategies, work miracles even, and in doing so, the lives of everyone around them are improved.
It’s worth the effort to be a solution bringer, rather than a problem finder. That’s what true leadership is about.
*Philomena is not her real name.