A few months back, we had some visitor at our church from a local outreach called Teen Challenge. Our entire congregation was moved to tears as young (and older) men shared their stories of abuse and neglect and sorrow, stories that were difficult to hear and even comprehend. Of course, many were prompted to sign up to support this group…after the service was over.
A couple decades ago, my daughter had learned in school about the starving kids in Africa and she too was moved beyond words with concern about them, as she came home and talked nonstop about the situation. Her younger brother heard her, too. It was quite something to listen to her share with us what she’d learned about little children and their lack and need of the basics of life.
Fast forward a few months from that visit by those men with incredible stories, and life has happened, a pandemic has swept the world, and time has gone by. Those stories are becoming a distant memory and my heart that was stirred to tears is now stirred by other things. No longer are those stories in the forefront of my mind, because other things have moved them back in the recesses…
Fast forward just a few days from my daughter and her reaction to the starving children, we were out shopping for clothes. She piled up more than a dozen outfits to try on, and her younger brother once again observed. He came over to me and whispered in my ear, “I guess she’s forgotten all about the starving children in Africa.” It was so funny…but not.
My point in relaying those two stories is to note how in a day or two, a week or a month, we forget the stirring that happens in our hearts. It’s why we need reminders, notes, calendars, and all sorts of things to remind us of the important. This all made me wonder how long it will be, once this pandemic is passed, before we are all right back to our “normal” life and the fear of being in public will be behind us. Or will it?
I also wondered how long pain or trauma has to last before it makes a lifetime impact on our actions and reactions? If the pandemic was over in two weeks, like we all hoped it would be in the beginning, I’m pretty sure life would have resumed and nothing would have changed. But the longer the isolation and prohibitions, will we be changed forever?
Will be more cautious in the future, giving up our usual shaking of hands?
Will we avoid crowds from now on, keeping our faces covered indefinitely?
I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know one thing. Hard times are for learning lessons. And if we don’t learn the lessons, we might have more hard times of the same kind. I’m not quoting any scripture here. I’m just noting the obvious. Any parent knows that a one word “No!” doesn’t keep a child from doing wrong. It usually takes several reprimands, loss of a privilege, taking away pleasures, and modeling of the right way to act, before a child even wants to consider changing for the good.
I’m curious to see how this plays out, when our nation resumes work fully, takes to the crowded highways once again, and frequents all of the pleasure places we have missed so much.
Will family connection still be a priority, with games and outings and pure clean fun?
Will rest and relaxation now be duly noted as a necessity in order to survive and thrive?
I don’t have the answers, and only time will tell. But I really hope we don’t load our arms with piles of purchases and forget…and I really hope that the tears that flowed will still flow…as we repent, pray, and look forward to a great reaction of good that lasts…more than a day or two.