How do you solve a problem like ____?

Nuns were singing in my head this morning.
Not warbling some lovely Latin hymn or even the churched-up Sister Act version of My Guy. I woke up with the nuns from The Sound of Music singing “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
If you aren’t familiar with the movie version of the VonTrapp family’s escape from Austria during WWII (Have you been living under a rock? Go rent it!) at the story’s outset, novitiate Maria struggles to adapt herself to the structure and behavior patterns expected of a convent-dweller, and the other nuns struggle to accept Maria. She’s noisy, she’s late, she lacks proper decorum. She doesn’t fit in, and it causes consternation for the nuns and condemnation for Maria.
So the older, wiser nuns come up with a novel idea. They ship her off to play governess to six motherless children with a drill sergeant for a father. Sounds like the makings of a classic romance plot, huh? Yep. One of the most romantic movies of all time, if you ask me, and it’s based on a true story, which makes it even better!
Anyway, these lyrics were running through my brain in that disjointed, fill-in-the-blank style songs-you-don’t-hear-frequently-but-can’t-quite-forget have, well before my head lifted off the pillow, and it got me to thinking about the way we approach our “problems.”
I’m not talking about bad habits (no nun-pun intended) or character issues. Maria wasn’t a bad person, she was just a bad nun. Her heart was full of joy, and praise, and love for her God and for other people, to the point of forgetting things like what time to be at vespers (that’s a fancy word for evening church services, for us non-liturgical folk). Her style of joie de vivre (joy of life) was a mismatch at the convent.
So in our lives, we’ve got some things that don’t quite “fit.” And no matter how hard we try to stuff them into a”habit,” they keep popping out of the nice little frame we’ve created for them. Consider this: If those things don’t fit the frame, are the things the problem, or is the frame the problem?
Artists and photographers will tell you the frame can make all the difference in the value of a work. The right frame makes the picture or photograph more effective. Taking Maria out of the convent frame and putting her in Captain VonTrapp’s household frame made a terribly ineffective nun into a woman whose love and joy transformed an entire household. Did Maria change? No. Not really. But being in the right “frame” changed Maria’s liabilities into assets.
How do you solve a problem like _________?
Maybe all you need is a change of frame!
1. Examine the “problem.” This will require some discernment. Many of the things we consider “problems” in our lives aren’t problems at all, they are our painful attempt to squeeze ourselves into someone else’s habit!
2. If you determine that you DO have a problem (i.e. you are a chronic gossip, or fearful, or an alcoholic or drug addict, for example) then it’s time to face it, repent (which just means to turn around and go the other way), and ask God to help you fix it. You may need a plan, or some wise counsel, or a good old-fashioned dose of grace and mercy from heaven. All are available to you just for the asking.
3. But if your “problem” is just a matter of you trying to fit in the wrong frame, it’s time to start creating a new frame. While that sometimes involves changing jobs, or changing locations, more often than not it just requires a change in perspective – a paradigm shift – in the way you view yourself and what you say about your life. James chapter 3 talks compares the human tongue to the rudder on a ship. The rudder determines the direction, or the course, of the ship. It creates a frame for that ship to take.What direction are your words taking you?
Maybe YOU are not the problem you believe you are… maybe you just need to re-frame your life with some new words!

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4 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like ____?

  1. Amy DeTrempe says:

    Great post and certainly gave me a few things to think about. I love Sound of Music. I costumed the show twice in one year and if I never have to make sure I have 7 matching outfits for at least three different scenes, I will be happy – lol.

  2. Patti Lacy says:

    Wow! LOVED this post. By age seven, my daughter had memorized and could "act out" all of these lyrics.

    How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you hold a moonbeam…in…your hand???!!

    Maybe this'll help with Kai's problem….


  3. Niki Turner says:

    Patti, sounds like there are a lot of us who would list the Sound of Music in our own "these are a few of our favorite things" lists! Glad you enjoyed the post. Now if I could just get those nuns to be quiet for a minute!

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