Sunday’s Wisdom #140: Small Problems

“It’s so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big at the time.
It’s like a river that’s so wide
It swallows you whole.”
– from “So Small” by Carrie Underwood

This is one of the earlier songs produced by the popular country artist, who has since become an icon within the industry. The lyrics are about how often the troubles of our life, the ones that we think are ready to swallow us whole and destroy us, sometimes aren’t so great. When we’re inside it, it’s all we can see, but that doesn’t make it all there is.

Problems are often smaller than they appear to be from inside them.

The music video for this song uses examples of familial discord, of fighting and arguing with one’s loved ones. A painful thing, to be sure, feeling strife with a parent, a spouse, a family, but it’s not the end of the world. It applies to a number of other situations, though. It could be depression, or unemployment, or a terrible accident, or the loss of a loved one, or the pain of failure in something important to us, or the trauma of being hurt by someone else, or an infinite number of other possibilities. The point remains the same.

There are few pains so great that we can’t live through them.

Where there is life, there is hope.

Where there is love, there is life.

Sometimes all we need is to take a step back, away from the problem. Step outside the river. Take the time to look upriver and downriver, and away from the river. Stop worrying about everything you can’t change, start looking for things you can.

Most of all, remember what is most important. Use that as your compass, and ask yourself what else really matters. Some problems may turn out devastating, and the pain of that is very real. But focus first on what’s most important. Do that, and let all the other problems fall where they will. Do otherwise, and you may well lose the most valuable thing you have in this life, because you were too occupied with something else.

And remember: all troubles will eventually pass. Focus, use your head, keep going, hold onto what’s most important, and eventually you may just find yourself looking back and thinking, “That was not nearly so bad as I thought it was at the time.”

As the refrain says, “Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand.”

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