Long Term Solutions
By Anthony Casperson
I’d just dropped off the last student in my bus, and an alarm began to go off. I knew what it was. It had happened in almost the exact same place the Friday before. And I’d been forced to drive the incessantly beeping bus for the 35-40 minute drive back to base then too. And I was about to suffer the near-insanity-driving event all over again, just a mere 3 days later.
There was something wrong with the coolant system in the bus. I’d brought the bus to the mechanics three times within the previous week and a half for the same issue (including that Friday before). And each time I had to drive the students, I was handed the keys to that same bus. They were telling me that they had fixed the problem, but all that was being done was adding more coolant.
But this day, I was fed up. It was my last week of driving for the school year, and I was not going to drive an overheating bus for the rest of the week. The problem needed to be fixed, not just the symptom. So, when I wrote the note to tell the mechanics what the problem was, I ended the note with, “Just adding more coolant is not a long term solution.” (I had enough sense to not end with stronger punctuation, though I wanted to!!!!)
As I was driving my car home (and had peace and quiet), the thought came to me, “How many times do we come to problems/sins in our spiritual lives and apply short term solutions to long term problems?” (Yeah, that’s the fun of living in my head. I wanted time to stew in my justification for being mad and ended up being convicted.)
We try to handle symptoms when there’s a greater problem. Alarm bells begin to ring just a few days after we think it was fixed because the reservoir’s empty again. And we act out, not only because we have the problem, but because we thought the problem was fixed. Or at least dealt with enough that we didn’t have to think about it for a while.
Many of us here have depression/anxiety problems. (A problem to be dealt with, not a sin, just to be clear.) Some want to escape into our heads, or into bed, or into some other comfortable place. Others will turn to self-medication. And there’s a spectrum between.
Sure, for a while, our escape may make us feel better, but those solutions will not end the psychological turmoil we suffer. It’s better to find a trusted person to talk to about what’s going on. It’s better to discover God’s work in our lives, even amid the struggle. It’s better to make positive changes that will allow us to accomplish whatever it is that’s bringing the lying voices to our heads.
Another example of short term solutions to long term problems could be in our spending. A person has gotten themselves into deep debt because they’ve spent more than they could afford for a long time. The short term solution is to get more money. Sure, more money could help pay off the debt, but the most likely outcome is that they will get even more into debt. The problem isn’t a lack of money, it’s about spending well.
For instance, the indebted person could use a trusted individual to help them look at their spending habits, seeing where the monetary hemorrhage is the greatest. Or they could create their own money-spending system (often called a budget). And in some instances, the person might need a greater income, without adding to their spending.
And the same thing goes for sin in our lives. One example that comes easily to mind is lusting. A person might put certain blocks on their electronic devices. Although, getting through those blocks is not overly difficult in most circumstances. And then, there’s still non-electronic glances of lust.
Some might even think of a very permanent short term solution of getting married to help them deal with their lust. But, as I have been told by those more knowledgeable in this particular endeavor, access to God-ordained sex does not mitigate lustful thoughts. It might even increase them.
Rather, it would be better to have accountability with a trusted person of the same gender. It would be better to ask God to reveal to us what the sin is seeking to satisfy, and find the good that should be utilized in that lack.
When we discover what the alarm bells are sounding off for, we can look for a suitable solution. Often, someone more skilled than we are can help with advice or help install the long term solution.
If we keep hearing the same alarm sound until we’re about to be driven crazy because of it, then we are likely only trying to apply short term solutions, if anything at all. We’re only dealing with symptoms, not the actual problem. Discovering what is actually wrong in the first place is far better than merely alleviating symptoms.
Overcoming a long-lasting problem requires long term solutions.