We spend much of our life trying to avoid problems. The fear of the unknown makes it easier to procrastinate addressing our inevitable issues. Although we typically try to avoid our problems, it is our problems that help us grow mentally and spiritually. Just like our modern day education curriculum embraces tests with challenging problems, the solving of problems helps us create courage and wisdom. As I reflect on the celebration of our Independence Day this July 4th, I am thankful that our founding fathers chose not to take the easy road but instead faced the problems that were in front of them. Ben Franklin was quoted saying, "Those things that hurt, instruct." Scott Peck, author of "The Road Less Traveled", came up with four tools of discipline that will help us embrace our problems. My summation of these four disciplines is as follows:
1) We must treat our problems with deferred gratification. We can enhance our ultimate pleasures by meeting, experiencing and overcoming our problems first.
2) We must accept responsibility for our problems. Although we can always defer responsibility to someone else, we will be blessed much more if we accept the problems in front of us and own them.
3) We must be dedicated to seeing things as they actually are in reality. Our minds do a wonderful job of helping us make justifications and excuses, convincing ourselves that things are not as they appear. But, the more clearly we see the reality of the world, the more equipped we are to deal with the world.
4) We must approach each problem with balance and flexibility. Since each problem is different, we must approach each one with an open mind on how to overcome it.
We are the beneficiaries of our Founding Fathers willingness to defer gratification, own their problem, and understand the reality of their foreign ruler -- They used a flexible approach to overcome the seemingly impossible. Now, we are living proof that their experiment resulted in the greatest nation in the history of mankind. This 4th of July, I thank God for our Founding Fathers willingness to overcome the problems of their day, and I pray that we will be willing to confront and overcome the problems of ours.