Photo by mconnors on Morgue File.
Tell us about a time you’d been trying to solve a knotty problem — maybe it was an interpersonal problem, a life problem, a big ol’ problem — and you had a moment of clarity when the solution appeared to you, as though you were struck by lightning.
This is a prompt I can identify with, because it has happened to me an innumerable amount of times. There have been many times throughout my life when I am dealing with something or trying to discern something, and suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, the answer hits me square in the head. Often times, I pray as I am searching for the answer or whatever it may be, and shortly thereafter, the answer comes to me. I always thank God for answering!
In fact, it happened just last week at work. We were working on something that had given us far more difficulty than it was supposed to do. A job that should have taken two to three hours, had taken us almost a full day. Needless to say, in such situations it is easy to become frustrated. The problem with frustration is it causes you not to have the normal clarity you normally would. It clouds your thinking and judgment. It obscures the obvious. It is usually in moments like these I like to take a short break, walk around and take my mind off the problem. I try to clear my head. Say a prayer for help and get back at it.
This was just the situation. I was about at the end of my rope, when I said a prayer that God would reveal to me the answer. I prayed he would clear my mind of my frustration and allow me to see the solution. I had barely finished saying Amen, when the answer dawned on me. It was like a bright light suddenly piercing through a dense fog. With the answer in hand, we finished the job.
It is amazing how in such times, once the answer is realized, it seems so obvious after the fact. You think to yourself, why didn’t I see that before? Why did it take me so long to figure that out? Those moments of clarity, of breakthrough are almost magical. You feel such a release, such freedom from being released from the problem that has you stuck.
Another such instance I remember very well was in grad school. I was taking a class on Wesley and Wesleyianism. I was writing the end of term paper, which counted for a major portion of the final grade. It had been an intensive class the entire semester. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest classes I had my entire graduate career. At the same time, it had been a very rewarding class.
I enjoyed the rigorous nature of the class and the thoroughness of the professor (not all of my classmates did!). I had done very well in the class, through class presentations and exams. Now I was at the finish line, one last assignment . . . one last hurdle to my “A” in the class.
The paper, like the class, was an intensive one. It was fifteen to twenty pages in length with extensive notations. I came to the central point of the paper, an issue of a finer point of Wesley’s theological construct and I was struggling with how exactly to put it onto paper. I felt like I was missing something. There was something to it all that I was not seeing; something I was not quite connecting with for some reason.
I poured over my lecture notes. I scoured through my books (which were several!). I retraced conversations I had with the professor in my mind. I knew something was there, but just out of my grasp. I knew there was a pearl that was just out of sight of my view. But, for the life of me, I could not put my finger on it.
I continued to search notes and books and memory. I read and reread my paper to that point. I asked questions aloud, trying to frame the issue in my mind. I’m sure I prayed countless times. However, unlike other times, I did not experience frustration. I was persistent. I was eager. I knew it was there. I knew it was there to be found, if I remained diligent. I felt almost exuberant. I know it probably sounds nerdy, but it was exciting!
After quite some time of searching, probing, asking, seeking . . . finally, finally the light bulb appeared atop my head and I got it! I saw what I had not been able to see. I had searched and I had found it. The moment of clarity had dawned and a wave of satisfaction rushed over me.
The reward was well worth it.
There are many other times I could mention, but I will spare you!