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Called to be more than we were

Mama always said, “When a person goes through a hard time, they will come out of the darkness one of two ways. 

Some will become angry and resentful for their travels through difficulty and stay in darkness. Others will come through the night with more strength, more humility, and compassion, remaining in the light.”

Often in our lives, we are faced with a decision as to how we will handle tomorrow. Even during devastation, we try to look toward a new day, a way of coping, or a spark of light telling us to push through.  

I have heard many folks discuss during these days of social distancing and isolation, about how they long to touch the face of a grandchild, have a small dinner party, or travel to see their friends.  

Never in a million years did we believe such simple things would be entirely out of reach or unattainable. 

Who would have dreamed we couldn’t attend a wedding or a funeral because of a worldwide virus? 

Or, be able to walk into an emergency room or doctor’s office? Who would have imagined sports would be over, playgrounds closed, schools shuttered and New York City, silent? Who would have thought our world could change in mere weeks?

A few months ago, I wanted to return to where I was born and put flowers on my family’s graves. 

For some reason, it was bothering me, and besides, I could visit some relatives I longed to see. One of my cousins was ill, and even though we had not been extremely close in previous years, I relished the thought of revisiting him.  

I wanted to tell him about getting the old family Bible restored, about some data I learned about our heritage through research.

 I was looking forward to describing to him how I ran into an old friend of his through one of my columns. 

“I’ll wait until spring when the weather is better,” I said to myself as I put off that trip.

Jack died the other day while I was sitting in the isolation of my office, looking out my window watching a deadly virus sweep through spring. 

Sometimes, there is no tomorrow.

Sometimes there is no time left to make amends, or tell someone they are loved, or to say thank you.  Sometimes, time runs out. 

I have spent the last few days thinking about Jack, and all those whom I put off by my time. Those I haven’t told how much they mean to me and how I cherish their existence. Is there enough time to do all those things, plus rid my dirty closets of those pesky skeletons? I doubt it, but I’ll try. 

Every difficulty or hardship I have gone through, I wound up seeing the light at the end of a tunnel. During my darkest days of clinical depression, when suicide was such a viable option, I inevitably would see a ray of sun.  Afterward, I became more determined and filled with faith. Each dark journey was a stepping stone to better understanding and hope. I pushed to fight harder, shared more, and was less fearful. Some days I failed, but that ray of light kept after me until blue skies were over my head. 

There is a purpose for each and everything we go through if we only look for it. It is what we do within the darkness that creates those clear sun-filled skies. 

When tragedy teaches us to become more thankful, more aware of others because we now understand pain, we become better human beings. We open our minds to God’s idea of the best we can be.

We are more appreciative of that child’s face, or relishing someone’s birthday, or more excited about visiting our old friend. 

Love of life is indeed found in the appreciation of its every little detail. Shoot, as much as I once hated Atlanta’s traffic, I hate the empty streets more.  As much as I deplore waiting at the doctor’s office, I wish now they were open. As much as I despise the candidate’s political ads, I find myself longing to hear one, so I can display my temper.

We all long for normalcy, and we can’t seem to find it.

We are collectively stuck in uncertainty, in the darkness, in the middle of a glorious spring. Yet, a hand of hope is reaching through for us, encouraging us to emerge from the abyss with clearer insight. 

God is calling us to become better than we were. 

Are we up to the task? 

I believe we are, but only if we see the light.