Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Solution or A Distraction, How Can I Tell?

I frequently interact with people who find themselves or their marriages in crisis.  I’m not so naïve to think that I’m stop #1 on their journey to healing, in fact I’m often a last option to ease the conscience so they can say “well, at least we tried pastoral counseling, the church, etc.”.  They will often detail how they’ve tried talking to friends and family, other pastors, counselors, how they’ve read so many books and nothing seems to be working.  I can’t help but wonder why they are now talking to me, do they honestly believe that I am so much wiser and more competent than all those who tried to help them before?  Answer: no.  One of two things is happening.  They are either looking for a magical formula that will fix everything for them or they have become addicted to the distractions of a “new solution”. 

“The rush of a new experience can often overshadow its lack of effectiveness”

When couples find a new counselor or parents read a book with a new parenting strategy there is often an increase in energy and sense of hope that brightens their darkness for a moment.  The rush of a new experience can often overshadow its lack of effectiveness.  Consider the rebound relationship.  A new relationship temporarily distracts from the issues that brought about the demise of my previous one.  A new church or move to a new area gives the feeling of a fresh start when it really only places more urgent needs to the head of the queue for attention, the old ones are still there, just not as noticeable for a time.  How many marriages dissolve once the children move out?  The greatest reason is because the problem areas of the marriage were shuffled out of sight in order to focus on the more pressing issues of raising children.  Once the distraction of raising children was gone, the problem area resurfaces and couples end up throwing away decades of life and relationship

“Is the solution addressing my issue or distracting me from it?"

New advice, new strategies, and new methods easily put the focus on doing something else and can temporarily seem effective without actually addressing the things that truly need fixing.  Fad diets are a great example of this quick easy fix that seems to work for a time only to fail the test of longevity.  Simply shuffling problems to a less noticeable area of ones life is not the same as fixing that problem.  Hiding within the busyness of the new and fresh cheats us out of ever truly growing or developing beyond what caused us to look for a solution in the first place. 

So how can we tell if a solution is working or just distracting?  Ask yourself these questions.  Is this new solution addressing my issue or distracting me from it?  Am I still afraid to think about the problem areas of my life?  If new solutions require me to interact with the problem areas instead of offering me a guilt free way to distract from them then chances are that solution is one worth your time to see through.  People addicted to new solutions tend to run away from real solutions because they don’t want to or aren’t ready to face the hard issues in their lives.  The true challenge is to not quit when I don’t like what a solution is revealing about me.  

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