How to have problems and not let problems have you!

John 16:33 New Living Translation (NLT)

33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes, problems in life can seem all-consuming. If you’re like me, it never fails…when everything is going right, that usually means the bottom is about to fall out. One small problem leads to another and another until everything feels like it’s falling apart. What if you could stop problems cold in their tracks before ever reaching you? That’s a nice thought, but rather unattainable. 

Life is messy. It just is, even for Christ followers. The reality is that we are GOING to have problems in life. The verse above doesn’t say IF you have trials & sorrows; it says you WILL. That’s a guarantee that life won’t always be peachy. It is impossible to be prepared enough to avoid every single issue. You can do everything right, and still something wrong WILL come your way. So what can we do?

First, ask yourself:  “Am I part of the problem?” Maybe you didn’t directly cause the problem. You didn’t cause your tire to go flat in the middle of the interstate, but did you notice that it was running low? Next time, can you keep your cool in an argument with your spouse?

“Yeah, but it’s really not my fault!!” You’re right. Sometimes, it’s not. Maybe you didn’t directly cause your problems, but perhaps your attitude IS the problem. Are you should-ing all over yourself? “They shouldn’t have said that. I don’t know why they did that. They shouldn’t feel that way; all I was trying to do was help.” Here are 3 essential guarantees in life:  1) You can’t control what other people think, feel, or do. 2) If you attempt to control what others think, feel, or do, you WILL feel inadequate. You will be angry. You will be depressed and frustrated. 3) You only have control over what you think, feel, and do. You DO get to choose how you respond to others. 

You’ve got to get all that “should” out! Let go of what should happen, and accept things the way they are. Once you can accept it, you can begin to work past it. Don’t trap yourself with stinking thinking; instead, create some boundaries between you and the people who are stuck in faulty cognition, the “Debbie Downers” of life. You may just be perpetuating the problem by allowing toxic people, things, or circumstances rule your life. Positive vibes only ✌️

TAKE ACTION:  So where do I start? Am I not allowed to feel? Have all the feels. Get them out…literally. Write down what you are feeling & look back on each feeling to see what that emotion is REALLY saying… 

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You now have a starting point. Now that you can put words to what is bothering you, you can be proactive in solving those things. Speak to the person who hurt you about what exactly it was (and why) that bothered you. Face your fear of the future head on by doing something today that the old you wouldn’t do…speak to that person in the coffee shop. Pay it forward in the drive-thru line. Take a chance. Make peace with your past, and live in the present. Love yourself.

TAKE FAITH:  Rest in the comfort of the Word & know that all God’s plans are good for you, and He will see them through completion. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version (NIV)

11 "“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”

Philippians 1:6 New International Version (NIV)

6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God’s got you! You may have problems, but problems don’t have to have you! Being happy anyway is about having the wisdom to know that God wants us to enjoy joy, the confidence to know that we CAN actually enjoy joy, and the faith to believe that God is working things out on our behalf behind the scenes.  

“Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren't wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it's not what the world takes away from you that counts; it's what you do with what you have left.” -Marc Chernoff