During this pandemic each of us in our own way is beginning to understand that change is the only real constant in our life experience. For years now, I've been focusing my growth and development practices on trying to appreciate this, yet this pandemic is proving to be a pretty dramatic object lesson. And it's been really helpful to my daily (and sometimes hourly) quest to live with gratitude and joy regardless of the circumstances and the unexpected twists and turns of life.
For years I've commented to myself and others, "We Plan and God Laughs!" knowing that in my family He gets a chuckle every day! But knowing in my head that life is always going to offer unanticipated barriers, challenges, and opportunities...and embracing these deviations from 'my plans' with joy and a sense of possibility, are two entirely different things. In the "Book of Joy" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama - two faithful individuals who know God well and have experienced more devastation, tragedy and challenge than most of us can even imagine, they spend much time helping readers recognize the impermanence of everything and how to discover the inner joy that enables us to have the strength and inspiration when God's plan can't be entirely understood by us. That's the wisdom for which I pray every day. In Disney's animated film "Frozen" our children learn the song "Let It Go...", yet even as they bellow this song, we adults have a difficult time really letting go, and letting God. We like our habits, our practices and life 'as WE know it.' How often when asked why we do things in a certain way - perhaps inefficiently or ineffectively, are we inclined to respond 'that's just the way we've always done it.' Yikes!
During the past 20 days I've ended a wonderful career after 31 years of service; I've had the privilege of coaching my daughter through a brief labor to welcome my beautiful new grandson into the world when her husband who is working across the country couldn't be safely with them because of COVID-19; I've launched a new business with a new website and Facebook presence, and opened a new office space and retreat center thanks to my Mom whose tireless packing, sorting and tidying is nothing short of miraculous; and like you, I've learned to get groceries and supplies without gracing the store (which I really miss!); I'm learning how to participate and host ZOOM meetings, and attend church on Facebook Live; and I'm learning to celebrate birthdays, funerals, retirements and holidays from a distance with those I love. And there have been several days in the last week, when all this change has led me to snap ruthlessly at those I profess to love the most; I'm clearly a work in process!
I bet if you listed the things you've done that were either unexpected or new for you in the last 20 days, your list would also be long. This pandemic underscores dramatically for us that we must adapt to survive, let alone, thrive...not just as a species, but as individuals. The illusion of stability may bring us comfort, and planning may energize us and help us foster growth and improvement; but one of the secrets to living our best life every day, is being grateful for the good, the bad, the ugly AND the unexpected, and learning to see it all through the lens of possibility and potential.
In future blogs, I'll focus on gratitude as the fuel for joy. For now, let's just spend time reflecting on how this darn pandemic has helped us grow and prepare for an even better tomorrow. Start by asking: What do I know how to do now, that I wouldn't have otherwise tried or understood? Then, be grateful for this opportunity....as difficult as this may be for most of us. Beginning to experience unexpected twists and turns in our life as an opportunity for which we are grateful makes all the difference. I'll be practicing right
along with you!