The Secret to Shrinking Problems

You know how sometimes you say something to someone else and suddenly realize- “Hmm..that is helpful to me.”? Well, that happened to me tonight as I was putting my sons to bed.

All is Well

My eldest had just finished practicing piano and promptly began running around like a wild banshee through the house, swim noodle sword fighting his brother and laughing profusely. As I herded them to their beds, they happily gave and received kisses and hugs and then lay down.

Agony Out of Nowhere

Then it happened. Eli started wailing.

“What’s wrong, Buddy?” I asked as I stood by his door.

“My leg is hurting! It’s growing again!”

Now, had his growing pains suddenly erupted like lightening out of nowhere?

Not likely. He just didn’t realize his leg was hurting until the other, happier things he had been focusing on faded into the background.

Increasing Intensity

I said alright, turned around, and began measuring out the last serving of a bottle of kids Ibuprofen, when he started wailing louder and louder.

“It’s getting worse! It’s getting worse!”

Do You Know Why It’s Getting Worse?

As I turned, medicine in hand and walked to his side, I said gently,

“Do you know why it’s getting worse, Buddy?”

“No, why?” He asked.

“Because you are focusing on it. The more you focus on a problem, the bigger it gets to you. But the more you focus on Jesus, the smaller it will seem.”

With that I tipped the medicine into his mouth, slipped out of his room, and felt the sudden realization that I’d just said something important for me.

Timely Words

I’d just spent a day with underpinning anxiety I hadn’t quite dealt with. A number of projects had been swirling in my mind and growing to a size out of proportion with reality.

I had noticed in my morning shower that I was making myself anxious. Instead of relaxing and enjoying the shower, I had let my mind flutter from project to project, all the while rushing myself to shower faster and get on my way. I had to consciously remind myself to just enjoy the shower and be completely present in that moment without letting my mind run a thousand other places. It was a fight.

The rest of the day had been a struggle, too, with that underlying current of anxious running through my veins.

And so the simple truth I told to my son echoes in my mind even now:

The more you focus on your problems, the bigger they seem. The more you focus on Jesus, the smaller they become.

Turn Your Eyes Upon

I remember another time when this had happened to me. I was talking to the sweet, elderly neighbor who had used to curl my hair and read me Bible stories when I was a small child. She’d held me when I first came home from the doctor, and, even though I’d moved out of town when I was 10, I still came back to visit her. On one such visit, sometime while I was in college or just out of it, she’d listened to what I had to say and promptly started singing:

She was over 90 then, with a strong, vibrato-rich, somewhat warbled tone. She had grown up working the fields as a small child in Arkansas, and she could yodel better than anyone I’ve ever met. (She’d even tried to teach me, but I didn’t catch on). She had used that voice to share the Good News of Jesus with so many in Arkansas and Indiana. She had used it to reprimand her toddlers and commend her adult children. She had used it to make up stories as lessons for my brother an I as children, and then, at a timely moment, she just started singing to me. And I remember tearing up as I am now.

That dear woman is in heaven now. All her problems are faded out, as her focus is on His face continually. I pray I let mine fade just a little more- that I learn from her timely encouragement to me, and my own to my son.

Did This Encourage You?

If it did, please share how in the comments below and pass it on to someone else who might be encouraged by it. My prayer is that this blog encourages people to engage deeply in the things that matter most to them, embrace wholly the relationships they treasure, and delight lavishly in the mundane and momentous of life. Here are some others you might like:

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