Three Important Questions to Ask Ourselves
We’ve had our lives tossed upside down like a trailer in a tornado. Which way is up, where is the exit? How do I get off this crazy ride? Disheveled and desperately craving carbs, we crawled out of the rubble to see what was left standing.
As our country begins its long-awaited reopening, we dust ourselves off and look around at what the world has become. This feeling of displacement is unwelcome and uncomfortable. For those of us who struggle with change, it has been a downward spiral of emotions. Squinting in a black hole for the tiniest glimmer of light to find our way back to normal. We’ve all had our momentary breakdowns these last few months, some, not so momentary.
Turns out though, we are more resilient than we gave ourselves credit. That still small voice has been whispering to us, it will be ok; we will get through this. We start taking walks again, listening to the songs around us, the birds, the waves, the crickets at night. We look for explanations, and though they are few, we are reminded that the answer has always been right there in front of us, and even inside us.
The Lord has been speaking to us this whole time. Often, we were too distracted, scared, worried, hungry, despondent, or bored, to hear Him. Instead, we turned on the news and filled out heads with the noise of the day. Guilty. It was easier, it was somehow comforting to share this huge grief with the rest of the world, it was the only thing that made us feel connected. The communal grief, pain, and fear, brought us together and kept us from feeling like we were floating at sea alone.
Before we can answer this question, I believe we need to ask, “what did I learn?” What did I learn about the world? What did I learn about myself? What do I now cherish that before I took for granted? How has this changed me? How has this changed my marriage and how I parent my children? How different is my friend circle now?
I would encourage you to look in a mirror and ask yourself these three things:
What have I lost that I will miss?
Grieve the losses that broke your heart. Let yourself feel that pain and ask the Father to fill that emptiness with His peace. Let Him heal the broken and wounded parts of us that only He sees.
Also, consider that some of what is lost brought a freedom we didn’t realize we so desperately needed. Ask yourself, what is now gone that needed to go?
2. What coping mechanisms did I turn to?
We crave comfort and grasp at whatever promises peace, if only momentarily. You are not alone, and there is no judgment here, this is about redemption. This is a good time for confession. If we open our hearts, it can be sacred time for repentance and restoration. Lean into His rhythms of grace. He trades forgiveness for confession and pours out peace for our anxiety.
Our relationship with the Father and example of Jesus is the only way to truly fill the emptiness and void that all the vices have promised to fill.
3. What changes do I want to make in me from this day forward?
This is most important. Don’t make promises. Don’t make resolutions. Instead, pray for wisdom about the needed changes that will bring transformation. I believe that, like me, you want to be a better human, you want to contribute in a positive way to this world. That begins by looking in a mirror, examining our hearts, and choosing to transform and grow. Growth comes naturally when given the proper environment. What elements of your environment are contributing to growth and what elements are hindering it? What needs to change? Further weeding may be needed.
Transformation doesn’t happen overnight; it is a journey. We are all on a path, each one unique to the daily decisions we make. If I want to travel to Texas to see my daughter, I don’t start driving in any direction that sounds good at the time, I set my GPS to her address and I follow the map. I can stop along the way, enjoy the ride, take in the scenery, but eventually I get there. However, if I take a turn East and keep driving towards the Atlantic, I’ll never see my daughter.
The question we must ask ourselves is, “where do I want to end up?” These destinations are short and long term. I may have a desire to be more patient with my family, and at the same time, a goal of starting a new business. Each of these is going to require daily disciplines, and both will result in transformation if I stay the course.
I would encourage you to write down where you want to be. This week, this month, this year, and even what you hope your legacy would be. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t have a plan to get there.
Note the changes you will need to make on this journey to get to your destination.
Author Wendell Berry said:
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.”
Maybe the blessing of this past few months is that we now see the real work that needs to be done. We can’t do this alone. It takes faith. Faith in God and faith in the people He brings to our journey. He loves us and speaks to us through these people. Look hard and listen well.
So, what now?