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Keeping the Good

Enjoying a slow sunset in the great outdoors. Image: Helena Lopes

There’s so much I’d like to leave behind from this season of our collective lives. But in spite of all of the suffering and pain, dissent and tension, love has a way of sifting out redeeming qualities from all the broken pieces. Crisis has a way of clarifying who we are and what we’re made of, what we want to pick up and what we need to let go. And this year, I’m all for keeping the good.

In the wake of the disruptions in the last 18 months, here are some things I’m hanging onto.

Keeping Time with Loved Ones

Before March 2020, our family had all the time in the world for everyone else and very little time to give to one another. When we were together, we didn’t always know what to do with each other. It was painful to cut all of those other things, but the early months of the pandemic carved out space for us to just be together, and in that space, we began to see each other again, to know each other better, and to rely on each other for love, companionship, laughter, comfort, entertainment, and relief. Our family grew closer. I don’t want to let that go. The pandemic righted my out-of-line priorities.

Keeping Low Profile Activities

The pandemic also taught our family how to be together for longer periods of time without paying for or planning high-impact activities… you know, the elaborate entertainment agendas we felt like we needed to assemble to keep our people from becoming bored for a minute. Our family found great joy exploring local parks, putting together puzzles (or teasing their mom about her puzzle addiction), playing board games together, taking walks around our neighborhood, and more.

A toad hiding in the grass. Image: Slawek

Keeping Boredom

On that same note, I remembered that boredom is fertile ground for creativity. Because we had virtually nothing we could do outside of our property line with lots and lots of time to fill, our family discovered and invested more time in hobbies, like baking and cooking, building forts in the woods, finding toads, reading books, and using our imaginations. Now, when there’s an agenda-free Saturday or Sunday, we remember that these days are given for rest and for Sabbath. It’s okay and actually good to have free time. It looks a lot like the best of the days behind us.

Keeping Close Investment in Our Local Community

In our globally connected world, it’s so easy to experience “crisis fatigue.” Over-exposed to the dramas happening internationally, our hearts and minds can shut down to all of the very real needs. But 2020 exposed the reality of the needs right next door, in our circle of friends, and around our town. In the midst of our universal crisis, there was a real spirit of caring for and loving our neighbors. I don’t want to lose that, even as politics and differences of opinion continue to try to divide us, I want to keep clinging to the reality that we’re all in this together, we need each other, and we can show the love of God by loving others who are in our immediate community.

Keeping Vulnerable

Our small group of friends reached out to each other a LOT in the last year to lament, to check in on each other, to help each other out when we needed it, and to share our frustrations and worries with one another. We found and invested in our close community to make it a safe place to be real with one another, to pray for each other, and to walk together. As we’ve gotten back into former rhythms of work life and home life, we’ve strived to continue texting and talking, gathering and praying, encouraging and lamenting. These are the nuts and bolts of what hold life together, and they are worth keeping.

Keeping Humble Faith in the Face of Uncertainty

The coronavirus has been one of the most universally humbling experiences for humanity in recent history. From schools to work to supply chains to personal health to governments and more, it has created disruption and chaos, sickness and death. With so much uncertainty in all the things, I’ve had to learn again the definition of faith: trusting that God is who he said he is— good and compassionate and patient and merciful and powerful and just—and leaning on that God to comfort me and carry me through all of the uncertainties and sufferings we’re up against. 

I couldn’t manage most of my life last year—pretty much everything was beyond my control. If things become predictable and manageable again, and I fool myself into thinking I’m in any kind of control, I hope I will keep hold of humble faith that reminds me of the dust that I am, how the lilies of the field are here for this moment, just as long as me. Let God hold onto all of my uncertainties; today holds enough worry of its own.

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