I’ve spent the last week watching people spiral even more than before on social media over this virus. Do I blame them? Nope, but the question is, what do we do now?
I can’t really say “Forget about everlasting life” because that should be our ultimate focus, but for now, let’s just stop and think about the next few years as our stepping stone to the ultimate.
If we’re not personally devasted by this virus, I’m sure we have people in our lives who are. Hopes and dreams of financial security have been squashed. Health has been affected. People are scared for their loved ones and themselves, etc., etc., etc. I don’t think I really need to list all the negative effects, so, again, let’s just look forward.
We can be at peace again. A big step to that is reopening of Mass and the Sacraments. The Grace from those can do wonders. Looks like many places are starting to open for them, so “Yay!” Like FDR said, “When you’re at the end of you rope, tie a knot and hold on.” Help is on the way or is already right in front of you. I can’t exactly say I grew up with this example so I’ve always had to fight against my Eeyore nature.
I found a great movie on Amazon Prime called Edie. It wasn’t religious in any way, and there were a few profanities in it so be forewarned, but it was delightful and uplifting, especially in times like these. It made me think of all of us who are going through some setbacks in life. It’s hard for us to see sometimes, but these setbacks are likely not permanent unless it involves death. And, for most of us, they are not going to last forever no matter how unpleasant they are. And, news flash! It’s not even likely the worst thing that will happen to us in our lifetimes. Odds are we can rebuild, even if it’s not the same model we had in mind.
I don’t want to give the whole plot away, but this is what I’ll say. The main character, Edie, had a tough life. While some of us have tough days, months, or years, she had about five decades of setbacks. FIVE. We find her life has now taken a turn and she is faced with a decision: she can keep existing or she can start living. She chooses the latter. Just to clarify, she could have ditched out on her responsibilities and vows, and even though she was tempted to, she did not. She was simply now in a place to continue down the same path or choose a new one. She’s presented with more obstacles along the way, which make her question the new choices. That’s all I’m going to say about it because I hate spoilers. I’m sure her life is a life many have lived.
I loved the message, especially during this day and age, that no matter how long you’ve been set back, you can indeed move forward. This isn’t the victim message we receive in these times. We’re told we just have to crumble until the world is made perfect for us and our every whim is met. Certainly, Edie felt she was a victim of circumstances and duties beyond her control, but when the opportunity came to try for happiness, she took it. She didn’t let the past hold her back.
I look back on life and all the numerous setbacks we’ve had. The fact is, we’ve all had them and we will likely have them again. The usual question we had was “WHY?!” but, honestly, hindsight is 20/20. Some of them were great blessings, even though we didn’t know it at the time. Yes, some were not, and that took a huge exercise of faith and trust, but those exercises were also for our benefit. We could have crumbled in the face of adversities, but we were far better for plodding through something we didn’t think we could and getting to “the other side” of them.
I’m not sure how secular people are going to deal with what they think is the loss of all – all they have, all they worked for, etc., etc., etc. – because there are days when I know Our Lord, Our Lady, and our guardian angel were the only thing that kept us from becoming immobilized with fear, worry, or depression. Honestly, if you’re not one to think about God and you’re going through a particularly tough time right now, maybe now’s the time to give Him a second look? Do you really have anything to lose by it? It’s a Pascal’s wager. If I’m wrong, you haven’t lost anything. If I’m right, look what you’ve gained! And no, belief in God doesn’t mean no hard times. Faith is not magic and this earthly life doesn’t compare to everlasting life with God where there will be no more sorrow.
To the faithful who are spiraling, see it for what it is: the devil is using this to get you. Fight him! Make the choice to use the spiritual tools you have available for just such an emergency and TICK. HIM. OFF! This is something we can get through. For some of us it may be a long road and for some very short. We have no way of predicting that. Give yourself the pep talk you’d give to others. It’s so much easier to tell others to put on their big kids pants and keeps a stiff upper lip, but you can, too. Remember, no matter how much you think the weight of the world is on you, that you might be alone, etc., it’s not true. It’s a lie of the devil because we are the Body of Christ.
When this whole thing started, I warned people that they were likely going to feel oppression – physical, material, and spiritual – like they’ve never felt before. I’m not going to get into my weird biography, but I’ve lived this before in similar ways. Good news? Totally survivable if you make the choice to do it. Bad news? Might not be the worst thing you go through. I also say this with experience. One thing that helped me get some perspective was looking at the examples of others who had it rough and came out on the other side. The more you hear peoples’ life journeys, the more you find personal triumphs over what seem to be insurmountable obstacles, because it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone who hasn’t had a setback in life. Obviously, the Saints are great examples, but sometimes it’s nice to find examples a little closer to home (“saints” with a little “s”). Even though we should be striving to be Saints, you never know what the triumphs are of the people on your own blocks. So try to find the uplifting in the time of downers even if it’s just through a movie. Reach out to people. We’re supposed to be a community of believers. Try and find those who have lived through tragedy and learn from them. I think you’ll find you’re not alone and hope is eternal!