Wednesday, April 3, 2013
By Micky Wolf
Ask a couple people in our family how to fry an egg and you will likely get as many different responses. Seems simple enough—until you realize each one has a different idea of what that means. Over easy? Sunny side up? Low, medium, high heat? Steam, no steam? The possibilities are endless.
Frying eggs is one thing. But being in relationship with others—spouse, children, friends—will most surely guarantee an even greater diversity of approaches to problem solving or completing the task at hand. Why? When two or more people are present there is a real good possibility the obvious-simple-easy dilemma is going to show up at some point.
What may be obvious to both of us may not be simple or easy in the solution—to one or the other of us. And that includes the stuff that emerges in our ongoing relationship with God.
Obvious and simple
An obvious problem would be a downed tree blocking the street. Or, discovering the checking account is zero minus and counting and the mortgage payment is long past due. Resolution seems simple enough, right? Get the tree out of way and put some money in the bank. Okay. Unless all I have is a wheelbarrow and a pruning saw to move the sprawling tree. Or the primary bread winner hasn’t had a decent paying job for a year.
There is nothing wrong with making the statement, “The problem is obvious, the solution is simple” as long as we remember it is our personal sense of what is obvious and simple and nothing more. Unfortunately, most of us don’t always take time to consider the bigger picture. Just because I believe a problem or task is obvious and the solution seems as simple as the egg on the plate does not mean you hold the same view or understanding of the situation.
Simple and easy
Most of us know one of the surest ways to create friction or stir up an argument with anyone is to assume everyone sees and understands things as we do. Making assumptions is usually dangerous and potentially unloving in any circumstance, let alone believing what seems obvious and appears to be simple is also easy to resolve. Acting upon these thoughts and attitudes often results in the nasty fruit of impatience, or worse, contempt for others.
There are several factors to keep in mind when we find ourselves being tempted to stubbornly adhere to the simple-is-easy line of reasoning:
Personal history—events of the past influence and impact the present moment, negatively or positively, depending upon previous outcomes. Have I been successful in the past in a similar situation? Felt more like a failure? What were the facts of those circumstances and how are they affecting me now? What kind of tasks or problem-solving experiences have proven challenging for me? Why? Conversely, which ones have proven to be easy?
Present circumstance—the state of our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual being can greatly affect our thoughts and feelings. What might seem simple a week ago now seems more like an insurmountable challenge. Our bodies, minds, and souls are in an ongoing state of flux. That is the nature of growing and maturing, living and dying. The simple act of breathing may be easy—or not—if my next breath is dependent upon a sterile piece of equipment sitting next to the bed.
Peace with the unknown—being in control of self is often seen as a virtue in our culture, yet we encounter difficulties in day to day living that seem to defy easy or simple management. When these situations arise, as they inevitably do, we may ‘genuflect’ to our familiar, comfortable, modes of learned response. Some people tend to rely on their own strength and understanding to [quickly] resolve issues while others move more slowly, allowing for every nuance and angle to be cast in a spiritual light. Aspects of both approaches are good, however, when haste consistently prevails and pressures, or hesitation routinely brings things to a screeching halt, neither response is satisfying or effective in the long term.
Validating perspectives creates opportunity for resolution…
For some people, the idea of validating [accepting] another perspective can set off an intense domino effect of thoughts and feelings—everything from a false sense of righteous indignation to more subtle forms of manipulation and sulking, victim type behaviors. Why? Fear. Plain, old fear—not simple, mind you. Or easy to bear, for that matter.
In many ways, our culture has melded being successful with being right to both sides of the same coin. As a result, if we feel our perspective, our understanding, our way of doing something is viewed differently by other people, fear may rears its ugly head. Accepting another way to resolve an issue must surely mean the outcome will be not be as good or effective, it whispers—or in some cases screams—to our sense of who we are as a person.
God’s Truth? Validating one another does not dilute the potential for meaningful and loving resolution to the problems and tasks we face. Rather, it is about taking a step toward one another, an action which creates the environment and atmosphere for the best solution to emerge. Will it be simple? Maybe. But as long as we are committed to seeking a resolution by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can trust God to provide all that we will need.
Most of our problems and tasks are a bit more complex than frying an egg. On the other hand, if it delights the senses, satisfies the hunger, and nourishes the body, does it really matter how it gets to the plate?
What problem or issue is obvious to me?
Is there a simple solution? How do I define simple?
Do I feel my perspective on a particular problem is validated?
Do I tend to equate simple with easy? Why?