Updated: Jul 30, 2020
My blog last week—7 Steps to Fight Fatalism—suggested digging deeper as a measure to combat discouragement while Covid...and everything else... seems to take a turn for the worst or at least, the worrisome. We Americans are largely more comfortable and complacent than average, and we like our solutions microwave safe and magically mastered. Catastrophe--including global pandemics, racial strife, political conflict, and the assorted side-effects thereof—has a way of penetrating our indifference, defying our skilled management, and messing with our timeline. Me three!! I want what I want and I want it now! Nope. Diving deeper into the subject of digging deeper sounds like a fine idea about now.
Four months ago, I was brimming with hope. Pre-Corona, the kids were on a fun and restful spring break. After a thoughtful hiatus, I was exploring another run at MightyLytes, the reboot of my old business, with fresh energy and prospects. I was job-hunting with verve and getting a bunch of interesting opportunities. I’d finally mustered the courage to file for divorce, an important personal growth milestone after years of struggle. Plus, plus, plus. Overnight, Coronavirus rolled in, a thundercloud of stormy weather, raining uncertainty on my hopeful plans. Maybe you can relate.
Years of overcoming has indeed built my spiritual muscle and I kind of thrive in a crisis, so I soldiered on. I felt sunny and faith-filled that God was up to something good. I parlayed my optimism into 34 episodes of 4 O’Clock Faith, a gift that encouraged others and me. The kids were doing surprisingly well and we were enjoying each other. I was inspired to write more. Opportunity was still flowing. I had unexpectedly hopeful personal prospects that filled me joyful anticipation. I launched the MightyLytes campaign, looking good and promising despite the circumstances. I got a wonderful writing project. The quarantine was ending. We were seeing humans again. Life would soon return to normal, maybe a new normal, maybe more grateful, more caring, better than before. Not. Or not yet.
Florida and many other states are backsliding. Covid is spreading rapidly, hospitals are being overrun. Will the kids ever go back to school? Will jobs ever come back? Will toilet paper and other paper goods ever be abundantly in stock again? Personally, all the beacons of light have gone dim. Suddenly the sure things, or at least, positive projections, don’t look so certain anymore. But even as I write this, I’m sobered by the math: Four months, 16 weeks. Not four years or 16 months. I’m encouraged by the facts: Today, the bills are paid, there’s money in the bank, Covid death rates are declining. God is still large and in charge. Now isn’t the time to pull the shades and weep in despair. Now is the time to dig a little deeper on all fronts.
My son Isaac is taking swim lessons. We spend a lot of time in the water, so I want him to be a really confident swimmer. He can swim to save his life but still hesitates, especially in the deep end of the pool. Like a lot of kids, he’ll swim across the shallow end no problem, but he clings to the side for dear life in the deep end of the pool or Gulf. I feel a bit that way in the ocean, once the sea floor disappears beneath my feet and I can’t see the bottom. It’s the closest thing I have to a phobia.
There’s just something about the deep; the lack of security, the unknown, the potential vastness and what lurks there. I still swim in the deep ocean but with less ease. Scary.
At Isaac’s swim school, each lesson begins in the shallow end and ends at the deep end. The kids have to make their way across the length of the pool, with little learning exercises, obstacles, and inflatable rest stops along the way. Help is always close at hand, as are the other students, and before they know it, they reach the safety of the other side.
Swimming in the deep is no different than swimming in the shallow. And sometimes, it’s the only way to get where we want to go.
Any challenge is indeed an opportunity to dig deeper. I find it usually involves digging deeper to unearth important truths, to plumb our reserves of strength and perseverance, and to draw closer to God. I have found God essential to handling the first two dives well.
F.ace E.verything A.nd Recover - 4 O'Clock Faith, April 2020
It’s been my experience that tough times can squeeze the truth out of us. Perhaps much more so when coupled with the isolation and scaled down activity we’re dealing with now. Absent our usual distractions, long-buried feelings can surface. Relational problems we’d been trying to avoid become unavoidable in close quarters. Regrets, dare I say sins, suddenly become more threatening. Maybe our usual coping mechanisms like eating or drinking get out of hand.
Feeling our feelings or facing hard facts can be overwhelming. Departing from the safety of our current circumstances however dysfunctional to explore the unpredictable unknown can be scary. Being pressed into it unexpectedly by a dastardly virus decimating our lifestyle underscores our powerlessness.
No fun. No fun at all.
But what if this is a golden opportunity rather than the beginning of a death spiral? What if this is an engraved invitation to deal with something long overdue? To right a wrong? To take a different, better path? Whether it’s a troubled marriage, professional misery, a difficult child, a destructive pattern of behavior, or even an addiction?
Nearly 19 years ago to the day, my dad died, I left the corporate world, I had my heart broken, and I quit drinking along with the related social life, all on a dime. It was downright traumatic having my pseudo-security blankets wrenched out of my hands. I simply didn’t know how much I’d depended on a long list of externals to define myself. I went into a bit of a nose-dive. But rather than slamming into the ground face first, I had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and found a path to recovery.
Whether your current situation is a prompt for honest soul-searching, an overhaul, therapy or recovery, you’ll need to tap into emotional reserves to…
Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t come out of Fräulein Mutter ripped and rippling. Nobody wants a hunk of coal adorning their platinum band. Steel and iron are tempered by heat. Glass is formed from common sand subjected to outrageous heat--1700°C (3090°F). Marble masterpieces emerge from relentless hammering and chiseling. Wood’s beauty is revealed by sanding and even burning. Marines don’t train on the sofa. Astronauts are prepped by exposure to increasingly stressful and complex challenges to build their ability to handle the demands of space travel.
Intense heat, pressure, effort, pain and stress are not only inherent to life on earth but can be the very things that enable us to become all we can be.
Women often tell me how strong, resilient and energetic I am. Yep. It’s true. I can own that. But like Ahn-nold, none of it happened overnight. And all of it happened as the direct result of facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, pressing through, and I must say, loads of discomfort and considerable pain over agonizing stretches of time. (I know, that’s not much of a sales pitch). HOWEVER, I faced none of it alone and all of it was filtered through the gentle, loving, ever-present hands of a God who knows me intimately and really, really likes me. Anyway.
The results are worth it.
I’m going to break this section down into a few helpful, admittedly extreme, sections. You can self-identify or cobble together a definition of your own.
Maybe you’re a passionate believer. Maybe your faith is unwavering. You are absolutely confident that we will weather this storm. That God has a good plan. That he will provide and sort things out in good time. You just know precisely what to do and when. Or how to sit peacefully and wait, certain that God’s timing is perfect. You’re chilling, sure all is well.
I’m so very happy for you.
That is not me.
Maybe, yes, you are a passionate believer. In my case, Christian. Maybe, like me, you know a lot of Bible verses, have done loads of study, spiritual seeking, and talk to God all day long. Maybe you have extended periods of joyous serenity--confident, easy. And then, stuff happens. Or doesn’t. And then maybe you go through short or long spells of wondering.
What’s God doing? Is this going to work out? Can he fix all this? Does he need my help? How about I try this to move things along? How about this? Oops, that didn’t work. What????? Sit still and wait?! For how long? 7 minutes has passed. Or four months. Finger-drumming. Pacing. Panting. Wheezing. Nix the wheezing, lest I get quarantined.
OH, OK. I’ll stop now. And just be. In the moment. Mostly OK and serene. Some of the time.
Maybe you’re the type who has a God you really like. He comes in handy on holidays and when the house is on fire. You enjoy occasional chats. Apart from that, you got this, thanks.
Maybe that model isn’t working so well anymore.
Maybe you can concede there’s some force. Like The Force of Star Wars fame. Or nature. Possibly intelligent. Likely remote. Something.
The thought of something omnipotent and decidedly smart is a bit disconcerting about now.
Seems unlikely, but maybe some of you are atheists and landed here by accident. Because it couldn’t be more than that. You believe in you. Science. Self and societal improvement. The inherent good or undeniable bad of humanity. You’ve read this far for kicks or curiosity. Doubtful. Wary. Maybe even full of disdain.
That’s OK. You’re welcome here.
Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, I submit it’s hard to deny we need to dig deeper and concede the possibility of seeking help from some power greater than ourselves. I believe we need this help both personally and globally, as the best and brightest are befuddled by the current state of affairs.
Hardship is where our faith chops are tested and proven. Faith, is after all, the assurance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1).
I have no idea what will happen with MightyLytes, if the kids will go back to school, when I’ll get a job or if God will open some other door, etc., etc. etc. But I know who does.
God has all the power, wisdom and enduring hope I lack.
Now is a uniquely appropriate time to get honest, test your metal and draw closer to God.
Go deeper to get to the other side.
Love and hugs in a hazmat,
P.S. Please like, comment, post and share this blog. Also, tune in to this week's Unfiltered vlog of the same topic for more info on this juicy and timely topic.