This week has seen increased discussion, and even some action, around how the world is trying to ease out of this unbelievable pandemic. Locations where the virus started are open for travel and some European countries are reducing restrictions. And, while things have not changed in the United States yet, officials are beginning to outline how people, and businesses, may reenter normalcy as swiftly and safely as possible. In short, there does appear to be a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel — even if it is in the far, far distance.
I’m happy about the progress. Really. I know people are suffering. I want our healthcare workers to feel safe again. I want our business owners to open their doors again. I want our children to see their friends again. I want to hug my Mom. Man, do I really want to hug my Mom. And yet? As the discussions ramp up and the changes begin, I don’t want to be distracted from being present. Or even worse, forget what I’ve learned.
Oh, please. Don’t let me forget.
You see, as hard as it has been, this unprecedented time has also fed my soul and blessed our family in ways we would never have experienced otherwise. “The Great Pause” as some have coined it, has quite literally forced us to live in the reduced busyness and consumerism I always longed for. And, we have discovered joy in living on far less than I ever would have imagined.
It is for this very reason, if I am deeply honest, that my joy at the end of the coronavirus will also be accompanied by a kind of grief. Competing emotions are normal during transitions, even good transitions, and I sense it even now as I see the wave of “freedom” rolling slowly our direction. Because when it arrives, we will not only have the freedom to enjoy the wonderful things, but we will also have to face old temptations again. And, there’s more than a few I’d like to leave behind…
Like the “freedom” to be too busy again. To look in the fridge and go to the store on impulse, rather than with forethought. The freedom to chase the idol of productivity and the identity of accomplishment. The temptation to over-involve our children and the freedom to say yes far too often. To unfairly limit what “normal” looks like and to think “I need” when the truth is “I want”. To buy into the old lies and lose ourselves again in it.
No, I don’t want to forget. Instead, I want to reflect now so I can remember later…
That perfectly fine family meals were created (and money was saved!) from cooperatively staring into the pantry and seeing what we could make up so we didn’t have to go to the store.
That while our children were away from their corporate activities they did not stop growing, they just grew in other beautiful directions.
That I was just as valuable to myself, my friends, my family, and my God when I couldn’t go running around marking off my to-do list.
That I wasn’t stifled by social immobility, rather, it made my mind move in new ways.
That unscheduled time organically gave way to rest, laughter, worship, and reflection.
That so many parts of this time were so, so very hard. But, so many others were beautiful. And those are the ones we want to take with us.
Let this time matter friends. Don’t let the coming wave of freedom and change distract you from the incredible moments that are happening now. And, when it comes, don’t let it make you forget what you learned. This “Great Pause” has meant something for us — it has awakened us. May we stay that way.