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blog: the road from beauty to becoming

Jan 12, 2013

the person with problems

I remember when I was younger--I mean way younger--when I was, say, 12 years old, problems were simpler and fewer.  Like most of us, I suppose, I learned to say to myself, "Get rid of problems as soon as you can."  As I remember those golden days, I sailed through my mornings, afternoons, and evenings without big problems--Mom and Dad would take care of those.  I could occupy myself with small problems like who to play with after school and what to play:  Wiffleball at Donnie's house, or "Kill the man with the ball" in our own backyard.

These days are different.  Problems have multiplied like mushrooms, and not only my own.  These days other people's problems are mine, too--especially those of my wife and our teenage kids.  Now Kim and I are the "Mom and Dad."  Sometimes we look at one another and say with a bit of astonishment, "We're the ones in charge?!" (don't let on with the kids about the astonished part!).  In this season of life it feels like problems are constantly hovering over our heads, day after day.  We have more than our share of good times, too, and yet that boyhood voice that hates problems still lingers and complains over the injustice of it all.

Maybe I need to hear another more grown-up voice, because I better get on with learning to live with problems.  Twentieth Century Jewish prophet Abraham Joshua Heschel (who marched with Martin Luther King at Selma) found a more adult perspective.  He once said:

"Actually, the greatness of a person is that they face problems.  I would judge a person by how many deep problems they are concerned with.  Here stands a person with no problems.  Do you know why? . . . He's an idiot!  Because a person has problems!"

At least we can thank God that we're not idiots.