As I sit in my flatlet, enjoying the sun filtering through my sliding door and onto my prison-bare courtyard, I reflect on a rather pertinent lesson that I have learned in life:
“Don’t make my problems your problems.”
As humans we are forced out the womb as utter dependants. That wail that you hear on our exit can be roughly translated as ‘MEEEEEeeeee!’
Our problems are other people’s problems at that point because if they did not approach it so, they would land up in prison and we would find ourselves entering through the pearly gates ahead of designated time.
The thing is that we find it rather hard to grow up and to move beyond this mewling state of neediness. Literature says that at roughly the age where we should be progressing away from clingy need (our attachments to our mothers) towards independent, ‘I can do this’ adventure (in the direction of our encouraging fathers), we find our dads have gone fishing, pubbing, TV surfing , or to work (or our mothers keep a tight grip on our hands because they feel that said father is useless and not worthy of our affections) and we are faced with a void.
We find our bicycle tyres flat and no one around to show us how to fix it, so we about-tail and become insecure little beasts who don’t quite know what it is to stand comfortably and self confidently on our own two feet.
We begin to expect the world and those around us to solve our problems; we become accustomed to seeing ourselves as helpless victims of our circumstance.
I see this in my own life on a daily basis. I can spend hours and hours worrying a problem from all angles and doing very little to actually solve it.
It is not often that I immediately sit down when confronted with an issue and think to myself, ‘Now, jean, how are you going to solve this one?’ That would be far too grown up! I prefer my initial reaction of a good, old, inner whinge.
Problems present me with a great opportunity to feel sorry for myself and to invite others to do the same. Why, pray tell, would I pass up such an opening?
One of my mentors relayed to me the story of how she was sitting and fuming at her husband one evening because he had failed to pick up their daughter from a friend in time. He had been caught up with work-related issues.
It took her a good hour of seething before it dawned on her that she actually had another option available to her: pick up car keys, climb in car and go fetch said child herself! I think that we can all be equally slow on the solutions uptake.
Of late, I have been processing high levels of anxiety from which I have wanted to be instantaneously saved. I am learning that God saves us from some of our realities by teaching us to be more responsible in them.
Did you know that anxiety is aggravated by high levels of caffeine intake? (Ja, I did too, but I did not want to believe it.) I now try my hardest to drink decaffeinated filter coffee. *Sob*!
Exercise is an excellent form of stress and anxiety relief but I prefer thinking about exercise more than I enjoy hauling my ass around the neighbourhood behind my doggy friend, Jake.
But if life is about taking responsibility where we can, and learning to be kind to ourselves, then exercise I will. I who have no gym self concept whatsoever have now joined the gym!
I am learning about the Father who won’t present me with a void, but Who won’t necessarily rush on in to smooth things over for me either.
I still have to budget. I still have to get wise about life. I still have to flex those ‘I am an adult who takes responsibility’ muscles and give them better definition.
Life is about cutting our teeth on a harder edge than we would like. While we would like to sink our teeth into cake on a daily basis, God presents us with tougher objects to chew on, knowing that we could all do with some strengthening and the encouragement and energy that come from rising to a challenge.