We had a case of fleas last fall. This is no small thing with 6 cats and a big long-haired dog. It took about 3 months of combing them all, many times a day, and treating them to finally get rid of the fleas. What was interesting about that “time of the infestation” is it gave me a good long period to work on my attitude and my mind. As I combed them, I would say, “Everything is fine and these fleas will be gone soon” or something similarly calming (calming to me that is…the cats did not seem to care one way or the other!).
One day, after about 2 months, I thought I finally had it licked….then I found one on Ben. I remember calling out to Jack, “Oh no, I thought that …….” I stopped mid-sentence. I was making it into a crisis. He said, “What did you say Mary?” …..”Oh, nothing” I said back…took a deep breath and kept combing.
Sometimes I would hit periods of discouragement and think, “Why do we have all of these animals? I am so overwhelmed.” Then I would remember that many years ago, I wrote out a prayer for a “big life” which would include lots of cats, dogs, friends, fun experiences, meaningful work, love, laughter….and I remembered too, the wonderful words of Norman Vincent Peale about “problems”. He would say to people who came into his office complaining, “Do you want to be with some people who have no problems? And he would take them to a graveyard and say here you go. These people do not have any problems to handle”.
I am including his words below. The language is obviously outdated but I still love the “man-sized problems” statement! It really makes me smile. I think he must have been a very funny man as well as wise…I don’t think he really meant to invite problems..I think he was poking fun a bit at our fear of having them…that we think there is something wrong if we have a dilemma/problem to solve, because he would also say that the bigger the “problem” the bigger the opportunity.
“Problems constitute a sign of life. Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest that the more problems you have, the more alive you are. The person who has, let us say, ten good old tough, man-sized problems is, on this basis, twice as alive as the poor, miserable, apathetic character who has only five problems. And if you have no problems at all, I warn you: You are in great jeopardy. You are on the way out and don’t know it. Perhaps what you had better do is immediately go to your room and shut the door and get down on your knees and pray to the Lord, “Lord, please; look don’t you trust me anymore? Give me some problems!” Norman Vincent Peale from his book, You Can if You Think You Can.