“How do you solve a problem like Maria???”
It’s one of my favorite songs from the iconic musical The Sound of Music.
Sung by the sisters at the convent, the song discusses the ageless question, “What do you do with the girl/woman who isn’t like everybody else?” In this case, her name is Maria and she is different.
For one thing, she sings—-all the time. (Singing was strictly forbidden at the abbey.)
Even worse, she talks too much. She asks too many questions and has too many opinions.
Her highly adventurous spirit causes her to bore easily, wander off into the mountains and forget about things like schedules and responsibilities.
She does scandalous things like wear curlers under her head covering and climb trees.
Even though they all know that she has a good heart, she deeply loves God and people and wants to do what’s right, the fact is that she just isn’t like the other nuns.
And that’s a problem.
Or is it?
As anyone who has seen the musical knows, it turns out that Maria was not the problem after all.
Instead the problem was that she just hadn’t found her God-given purpose and place in life yet.
Turns out that even though she had the best intentions, God’s plan for Maria was not to spend her life as a nun. Instead, she found her passion, her place, and her purpose when the opportunity arose for her to serve as a governess to seven children and their grieving father. In this situation, all of her unique character traits that caused problems at the abbey were exactly what this family needed.
Her sense of adventure, her opinions, her determination, even her singing were the balm that healed their broken, grieving hearts and brought joy and healing back into their lives.
Turns out Maria wasn’t a problem after all; she just needed to find her God-given place so that all of the beautiful character traits God placed inside of her could shine.
Perhaps one of the reasons that I’m so drawn to this particular song is that I can relate. My life never has, and still does not, fit into anyone’s pretty little box. God’s plans for my life have always led me on the road less traveled and I’ve always been a little different. Honestly, it’s not hard for me to imagine a group of well meaning women singing, “How do you solve a problem like Adessa?”
In the earlier years of my life, I struggled with the question of “God, why couldn’t You just make me normal? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else? Why couldn’t my life follow a normal pattern and make more sense?” I struggled with embarrassment, feelings of inadequacy, and shame. I was sure that even if people weren’t bursting out into song about it, they were definitely talking behind my back discussing my failures.
Then I learned a powerful truth: Maybe God didn’t want me to be like everyone else. Perhaps He designed me to be different.
Maybe, like Maria, all of my unique character traits and the very unique path He took my life weren’t a problem, but they were part of His plan.
That’s when things really began to change.
When I stopped hiding my story, stopped being ashamed of the unique path God had for my life, and started opening up, being myself, and sharing my life with others, that’s when God was able to started using my uniqueness to fulfill His plan for my life.
When I stopped looking at the way God led my life as a problem and started embracing His plan, I found that He really did have a purpose, He really had created a unique place for me, and He wanted me to live every day with passion.
Today as I’m looking back on the years that I that I struggled to accept my uniqueness, I wonder how many other women feel this way.
Perhaps today, you feel like you don’t fit in. You wonder why God created you the way He did or allowed you to live the life you’ve lived. You hear that God has a purpose for every woman’s life and think, “Well, maybe not me.”
However, the truth is found in Psalm 139:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand.
No matter what you’ve heard, you are not a mistake. You are the way you are because God created you that way. This includes the things that you do or do not like about yourself. All of it was designed was a purpose in mind.
Today I want you to know that God has a purpose for your life. He created just the way you are so that you can fulfill that purpose. The choice now rests with you: Will you seek God’s will for your life so that He can lead you to your unique purpose?
The truth is that neither you, I or Maria are a problem. We are simply uniquely designed to fulfill God’s unique purpose for our lives.
How do you solve a problem like Maria (or any woman who doesn’t fit into the standard mold?)
Help her find her God-given purpose for her life and watch her flourish!
If you feel like Maria—here’s my best advice: Spend time with Jesus and allow Him to start showing your His unique plan for your life. It may not be what you expect—-but trust me, if it is God’s plan, it is going to be more rewarding, more fulfilling and bring you more joy than you could ever imagine.
Read more about discovering your passion, place, and purpose in
Discovering Your God-Given Passion, Place and Purpose"
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