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Making friends with our problems

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My sister likes to name her physical ailments. For instance, when she developed two fistulas in her abdomen, she appropriately named them Ebb and Flo.

Ebb and Flo have now healed, but now she copes with an outside opening in her intestine, what’s called a stoma, due to having a colostomy. My sis has named this stoma Stella. When she is having problems with her stoma, she’ll say, “Stella acted up this morning,” and we know what she is talking about.

I just assumed my sister was using her sense of humor in a strategy unique to her. But recently I was reading a devotion in the book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Young began by writing “Make friends with the problems in your life.”

She said the best way to make friends with our problems is to thank God for them. After all, 1Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That way, we can look to what might be a blessing coming out of them, since Romans 8:28 tells us about everything working out for good.

Then the devotion writer says, most relevant here, “You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than dread.”

A friend of mine suffered from pain in parts of her body, leading her to say, “The only thing that doesn’t hurt is an eyelash.” She went to a number of doctors, only to have them shrug their shoulders.

Finally, one said, “You have fibromyalgia.” My friend was relieved, glad to at last have a name for her woes. This strategy is certainly a different version of the “name it, claim it” notion that some pastors preach, isn’t it?

I’ve heard older people talk about “Arthur” causing them woes, referring to their arthritis, and this approach usually leads them to smile. Accordingly, I’ve named my new knee “A.K.”— meaning artificial knee. I’ll be glad when he’s not so much of a pain!


Donna Crowe is a minister’s wife.

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