(This week is the 26thinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about seeing problems as opportunities. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)
Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.
(American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker)
“Okay, you can start on the problems in section 3.4 of your math book. That’s on page 124. Let’s do questions one to . . .” I quickly scanned the questions to see which ones I thought were essential.
“How about questions one to three?” offered Georgia. Such a helpful child. Always wanting to get out of work.
“Georgia, you need to do lots of problems. That’s the only way to get better at math. Listen, everyone.” I just had to make this clear. Hardly anyone understands it.
“Math is like music and sports: it’s all about practice. With knowledge, there are only two parts to learning: understanding and remembering. But with skills, you have to practice. With a little help, you can understand math concepts, but then you have to practice so you can apply the knowledge. The more math problems you practice, the better you’ll remember.
“Sports are the same way. You can watch the NBA or your school team and learn how to play basketball. But you can’t actually play the game until you go out there on the court and practice: dribbling, shooting, passing—all the skills. Once you do that, you realize how tough it is. There are all kinds of problems, especially when you play with other people. They’re always taking your ball! In dealing with these problems, you develop skill and learn to play the game.
“Music is the same. I can show you how to play the clarinet, and you can understand by watching me. But you won’t learn the skills until you practice them yourself. Only when you try to blow the darn clarinet do you realize how tough it is. It’s hard to get all your fingers to cover those little holes, the air keeps leaking out around the mouthpiece, and the reed squeaks. There are all kinds of problems. You have to learn how to deal with all of them.
“That gives me a great idea. On page 124, let’s do all the problems.”
Groans echoed throughout the class. They were not nearly as excited as I was about really practicing math skills.
All of us want to avoid problems. But just like in math, the only way to develop skills is to solve problems. What a paradox. As Jim Rohn said, wish for more skills. Bring on the problems!
We can think of it another way. What stands between the person you are now and the person you want to become? Just problems. That’s all. Solve the problems the person you want to become will have to deal with, and you’ll be that person. Simple, but not easy. So many things in life are like that.
What stands between the person you are now and, say, becoming a saint? Think about it. All the saints had problems, just like we do. They just dealt with their problems differently. We need to start asking ourselves, “How would a saintly person handle this problem?”
Or how about the famous question “What would Jesus do?” You know for sure that Jesus had problems. How would he handle your problems? Okay, put aside walking on water, multiplying the loaves and fishes, and raising friends from the dead. Miracles aside, how would Jesus handle your problems? Why don’t you handle them that way? What’s holding you back?
You see, you can handle your current problems—and even bigger ones. That’s great. Because bigger problems are coming. Yahoo! Welcome problems.
Let’s take stock of where we’re at for a moment. We’re in the practice stage. We are practicing living at a higher state of consciousness. Should we expect problems? Of course. Should we try to avoid them? Never! We need those problems. Problems are what propel us toward our goal, our vision of who we want to become. We cannot avoid problems anyway. If we try to, they will just reappear in our lives until we learn how to deal with them. The other players will keep taking our basketball until we learn how to deal with that problem. Problems are signs that tell us how we need to grow. Albert Einstein is famously reported to have said that problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them. We have to change our consciousness. And that’s exactly what we want to do.
Whether we know it or not, what we truly seek is that state of consciousness Jesus called the kingdom of God. When we become constantly aware of ourselves as spirit, created perfect by God, eternally bathed in his Love, and visualize ourselves graciously handling all the problems this physical life has to offer, we will be in that kingdom. Seek that consciousness first, and everything else will fall into place.
Problems are like the rungs on the ladder of holiness that takes us to the state of consciousness that is heaven. So don’t avoid problems. Welcome them.
Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.