It’s a hard thing that everyone’s world has been turned upside down. No one is exempt, not even the President himself. Everyone has to keep distance from those around us, and we all are vulnerable to a virus that will spread everywhere we allow. The world is prey, with little defense, to a health disaster.
With so much sickness, death, and rising case counts, is there any hope here?
We are stuck in our homes with limited room for adventure and the normalcy we’re used to in the outside world, and I’m sure many of us are fed up with these limitations, wanting to return to our previous ways. I see many share about the grief of our circumstances and how to cope amidst this suffering.
While many of us are aching for a return to our “real” life, I’d like to pause and challenge our concept of what was so coveted and better about the way things were?
In the last few weeks, I’ve done things I’ve always wanted to do but never prioritized.
I’ve been on several bike rides, taken walks, played games, read books, cooked homemade meals, talked to old friends, written blog posts, and really beheld things in nature.
Many of you are likely having similar, new experiences.
Amid our sternly imposed “stay-at-home” orders and “lockdowns,” some of us may be surprised that these conditions are not forcing, but enabling, and giving us the freedom to invite into our lives things we’ve always craved deep down.
So, I ask again, what are the things about our old, coveted life that we miss?
Most of us have a job whose requirements dictate almost all of the way we plan and organize our life. What time do I have to go to bed to wake up for work? When will I fit in my grocery shopping, cooking, praying, taking kids to school activities, chores, working in the yard, family/friend events, and traveling outside of work? How long will my commute to work be? When will I get a promotion and/or more money?
COVID-19 has minimized many of these questions and worries for those still employed. And it has mostly eliminated them for those who’ve unfortunately lost employment.
For those blessed with ongoing jobs and “remoting” at home, there is a freedom to work without as many constraints. Thus, one has more bandwidth to pour into other areas of life. More bandwidth and time from not commuting to work. No taking kids to school activities. No events to attend. No travel itineraries to plan.
That’s a lot of extra time and energy!
What are you doing with it? I hope you are deciding to bring into your life more of what you truly desire.
As human beings with our good ole’ fleshy nature, we tend to strive for big worldly goals. Prestige. Power. Performance. Profit.
The closer we come to arriving at these goals, however, we learn that they don’t seem to do much for us interiorly. Nor should we expect them to.
I’ll never forget a simple but wise nugget shared by a priest with me recently: “most of us spend our lives chasing what we think we want, but not what our hearts truly desire.”
God tells us that we were created according to His purpose–to love and be loved. The more we align our lives to this core purpose, the closer we come to experiencing joy and fulfillment. When we spend our time doing things that are further away from this purpose, we are instead left to feel anxious, empty, and driven to strive for the next thing.
I realize that I’m not sharing anything earth-shattering here. Most of us are innately aware and wise to these realities. How many times have you heard someone say they would trade everything they have for just one more day with a deceased loved one? Think about that for a second. Someone would forfeit all they own, all their achievements, everything they’ve built in their life, for the opportunity to spend ONE day with someone they loved so dearly.
I would give away everything I have to give my grandfather a big, warm hug right now.
Because love is that powerful. Those we love are that important to us.
Do we always live as though this is true?
I invite myself, and anyone who reads this, to sit still during this hunker downtime, to identify what matters, and how to live what matters.
At the recent Good Friday service aired live from the Vatican with Pope Francis, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa share a jolting but valid warning: “the biggest thing people should fear about the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic is not an economic [recession]…Returning to the way things were is the recession we should fear the most.”
Whoa. We are offered an invitation here, by this priest in this message, and by our creator during these unprecedented times. Do not go back to the way things were. Do it differently in the next round. I’m giving you an opportunity.
These messages suggest that the real health crisis isn’t a respiratory one but a heart one. What good is it for us to have sound health if our hearts are so infected with things other than faith, hope, and love?
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”Mark 8:36
COVID-19 has given us a unique window in time, a pause in our rat races. A place where we can be still and face the things in our hearts that act against faith, hope, and love.
After all, death will come to us all one day. Mortality is a universal given among us. Whether it’s to COVID-19, old age, cancer, accidents, etc., we will one day take our last breath. We are tempted to fear and reject this truth. But we cannot.
Instead of trying to avoid the truth of our mortality, we can make the healthy choice of cultivating a wonderful and beautiful life. I love the invitation by philosopher Peter Kreeft on developing a good story on earth:
God is the universal storyteller. He wants many different stories. And he wants you to thank him for the unique story that comes from your free will and your choices, too. Because your free will and his eternal plan are not two competing things, but two sides of one thing…But in heaven, I think, one of the things we will praise and thank God the most for is how wildly and wonderfully and dangerously he put the driving wheel of our life into our hands—like a parent teaching a young child to drive.
You see, we have to learn that, because the cars are much bigger in heaven. There, we will rule angels and kingdoms.”
I’m not sure I’m quite ready to rule angels and kingdoms in the next life just yet. I definitely have some fine-tuning left to do–BUT–I find so much hope in this message. This call to praise God with a great story of our life.
Let’s not waste these new times, nor these lemons. Let’s live wildly and dangerously and give glory to God with lemonade!