The Problem with Problem Management

“God’s purpose for you is greater than problem management.”

I jotted down this quote from Sunday’s message and have been thinking about it ever since. It resonates with me for so many reasons.

I’ve always had a “let’s just get through this without sinking, ok?” kind of mindset.

If I was lost in the woods somewhere with a group of friends, I’d most likely be over with the “survivalists” whose immediate thought was, we have to ration our food and water so we have enough to survive. We have to manage this problem.

If I had been an Israelite wandering out in the desert, I would have been the one trying to store manna that the Lord told us would only be good for one day.

When I was in middle school and high school, I was powerless to control or manage the problem of “mom battling breast cancer”. Instead, I decided to dump all my energy into managing my weight. I exercised excessively and monitored my food intake. I watched the scale dip from 126 pounds down to 88 before reaching out for help. Although my eating and exercising  eventually leveled out again, my tendency to want to manage problems was never addressed.

During my drinking days, I took pride in the fact that I was a functioning alcoholic. My thinking was, if I’m going to have this hidden problem and I’m not willing to let it go, than at least I’ll manage the problem. I know I can do that! I went to extreme measures proving to myself that I could do what I wanted AND still be a productive member in society. I would drink a bottle and half of wine every night of my life and get up at 6am the next morning and go run five miles on the treadmill. It was insane!

And, you know what? It worked for a time. When I finally became willing to admit that “my life had become unmanageable” it wasn’t the physical toll that drove me to my knees in surrender. (I do believe my liver could have continued to take the beating I was giving it for another decade.) Instead, it was the spiritual and emotional toll which caused me to finally “hit bottom” and reach out for help. My heart and my soul were dying.

I surrendered my addiction to alcohol in 2001 yet, unfortunately, this habit of wanting to manage or control situations still rears its ugly head from time to time. When we are in challenging situations, it’s human nature to revert back to what we know and what comes natural to us.

And “let’s just get through this without sinking, ok?” is my comfort zone.

Yet, here’s the problem and why I think I love the quote that was mentioned in our sermon yesterday.

“God’s purpose for you (and me) is greater than problem management.”

God’s purpose

That’s what He was trying to teach the Israelites out in the desert thousands of years ago. That’s what He is still trying to teach me today in 2019.

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