Remember the pace life was travelling at before Covid hit our lives; how it felt? Always feeling the pressure to be at that next meeting with only a half hour to get there? Everyone else was in a rush at the same time, so you were sure to be late and lose face?
Some things are not our fault in life. Just ask the medical professionals trying to grapple with the fallout from Covid. Just ask employees at most any open local store, who’ve had to bare the brunt of a tirade from a customer out of touch with the reality that things have changed, period.
I’ve heard the words “getting back to the way things were” spoken on TV commentaries, radio interviews and in lines pretty much any place. Nostalgic thinking can be fraught with pitfalls if not approached in a healthy manner. On the one hand, looking back can be a desire not to lose what was good, so as to continue on with a vision or purpose. Sounds good right? Well, only if it comes from a really sober approach. If our focus is wanting circumstances to be the way they were, due to loss, or simply because things were the way we liked them, this can be the futile exercise of stubbornness and denial of reality. Change is a function of growth, and growth is an operation of life. Fits and spurts of opposites, challenge the winds and draw up the best of what it needs to flourish. Life changes; without change there is only stagnation. Circumstances change, even people change, and denying this leaves us banging our heads against the progression of time and life itself.
If the look back is to “Gather yea rosebuds, while yea may,” from inside these buds of good principles and resources gathered, new vigorous life, perspective and purpose can grow. It really depends on our internal disposition. Notice within this word the word position. Let’s dissect the word like we did the word circum-stance from last week’s editorial. The prefix dis indicates a separation or removal from an outward physical position, implying an inward location or mental inclination. So, a healthy approach to reality depends upon how we invest ourselves regarding the past, just like it depends upon how we invest ourselves today and in the future.
All of us could learn to treat life a little more sober, enjoying the vitality of community and family, even online. We have a great gift given in our downtime, let’s use it to reflect on and examine our inner life, to pray, if we do, or learn to, and begin to express well the connection we share in this gift of life. Albeit, this has been a larger change than most, on a collective basis, but basically, life has always changed, so we can do this well.
The one thing we’ve had, right now, is time. Yet, some may have used it to avoid thinking. What a waste. Others have been going through it too, so let’s help them help us, be patient and kind, and maybe even helpful. Certainly, a kind word or gesture can go a long way to strengthening a life in the thick of it out there. It’s not about the single thing we are obsessing on. It’s about adjusting to reality and stepping carefully, so we don’t selfishly step on others while trying to satiate our needs or wants. Please remember they are radically different things.
In the book of Genesis, God gave major insight as to the plight of humanity when he said, “sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it,” (Gen 4:7).
So let’s take it in stride and be kind to those who are faithfully serving in the businesses still open. Be nice. This is not just fluff. I mean, give yourself the honest adjustment you’ve needed for a long time; it’s an opportunity. But be patient with yourself, so you don’t get discouraged while your adjusting.
Case in point, the life of a young man in scripture named Joseph. He had every bit of privilege removed from his life, was placed in slavery and later jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. He trusted himself to God’s faithfulness in constantly negative circumstances, even through the betrayal of masters and fellow inmates. You see, though taxing, he knew it was his choice to give himself over to the corruption of fear and insecurity or to give himself over to God’s unwavering care. In all this he stayed open, AKA believed, as God was working to change men’s choices and their circumstances. He was eventually promoted to a position of honour and influence, which he used to help everyone around. Later, when confronted by those who had treated him so unfairly, he had a real “right” to retaliate. But exercising this right would have made him a victim, and diminished him severely. He knew not to give himself to the attitude which had mastered them, or he would have ruined himself as well.
Choosing our “rights” most often makes us wrong.
In an act of favour they didn’t deserve, called grace, he said these astounding words with true forgiveness. “You purposed it for evil, but God worked it for good.” (Gen 50:20) Resonating this truth, he went on to help these now poverty-stricken, self-seeking people, inviting them to live in the region he supervised, so they would be secure. He took into account the real enemy, the attack on their hearts by selfish ambition, and how it had made them victims of their own desires. It was their choice to treat him poorly, but once they gave themselves to it, they became the slaves of it and no longer the masters. In Rom 6:16 (ERV) it says,” Surely you know that you become the slaves of whatever you give yourselves to.” Instead, he listened to God’s instructive words to do what would have been right for all in the first place.
The how is just as important as the what in our doing of things. This is a good reminder for when we are standing in line or waiting for the government to open up things again. They are dealing with the experience of big change as well. Our healthy response is to forge the best reality out of the seeds we have today.
The soil has been purged in all this downtime, not only of much of the good growth we had desired before all of this, but fortunately also of many of the weeds, like disgruntled attitudes, impatience and intolerance. As long as we don’t replant that in our communities but replant good things, we could wind up with a bumper crop from the reciprocity which happens.
In our society, many have become so infected with privilege as our “right” it’s become a new PC word for selfish desire. We need to let go of the idea of others having to serve us, and understand; they choose to because they relate. Turnabout can be better than “fair play” if we respond well from the inside.
Even if it’s tough, you can give yourself a reality check and deal with what the I-want-it-now-impatient-impulse pushes you toward. Really, it’s being nice to yourself, it’s what’s needed. Eventually, as a natural result, it will come out as being nice to others. Who’d a thunk, “What’s good for the goose could be good for the gander.” Now that’s reciprocity!