Bitter or Better?

Challenging times often bring out the best in us… or not.

Learning to ride a bike did not come naturally to me. I have a memory from my 5th birthday. My dad tried to teach me how to ride a two-wheeler on a Friday evening. I was not getting the hang of it.

I got up very early the next morning and put on my little plaid jacket and went out of the house by myself. I went up and down my sidewalk on my bike until I finally could balance enough to ride. I remember the joy of moving faster than I could run and my dad laughing that I taught myself to ride while they were all sleeping.

I recall thinking I had hit upon a good strategy, being the oldest of three children. If faced with a challenge, get up early and figure it out. Parents are busy people, and it feels so good to learn how to do things yourself!

Well, that was a joyful challenge and a memory made warm recalling my dad’s laughter.

Today we are faced with the challenge of a worldwide pandemic. It will take more than getting up early to meet this challenge. I hope I am not overly optimistic, but I believe there are smart, good people who will help us just the way people have with other difficult problems throughout our history.

What will help us spiritually in this challenge?

Trust God more than we trust even those smart, good people referred to above. When life changes and things are taken away from us, we have a choice, to deepen faith or abandon it. It is God who holds us in life and death and who will see us through this.

Offer compassion and resist judging others. Most people do the best they can. Help them; don’t turn on them. Anger and frustration are emotions which, when expressed with hostility toward others, aren’t helpful and weaken us as a community.

Challenges are the arena in which we can discover resilience in persevering– when times are difficult– and find the ability to bounce back from adversity. In fact, the term ‘grit’ refers to the passion to continue to persevere, regardless of reward or recognition. We may find ourselves isolated socially, perhaps financially stressed, and have lots of reasons to feel anxious and insecure. But even in this crisis– this challenge– faith calls us to our higher purpose: to love and be loved. One moment at a time. One person at a time. Grit shows true strength of character when we have passion for our faith in God and devotion to each other.

If we focus on these, we will come through this time– stronger, kinder, better.