Reasons to Be Positive

Just another run of the mill day. The sun was out for a season tease of warmer weather to come. As I type I can hear my kids jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. Their rambunctious sounds fill me with joy. With so much loss and suffering in the world during this crisis, it is the little things that are giving me delight the last several weeks.

Earlier in the day, I posed a question to my wife and children. What is a positive thing that you’ve learned or experienced during this stay at home lock-down the past 5 weeks?

As I reflected on this myself, a few thoughts came up. The main positive for me has been the quality of time that I have been able to spend with my wife and my children. I mentioned to my wife that I don’t think we have spent this much continuous time together in our seventeen year marriage since we were dating. I also remarked to my children, that this is the most time I’ve been able to spend with each of them since they were born. As tough as this situation has been, I am grateful for that. I never spent a complete month uninterrupted with my mother or father that I can remember, and it has been an unforgettable experience getting to know a little bit more about my wife and children.

I really love hearing about their concerns, dreams, aspirations, goals, anxieties, and just to feel their closeness. I know that not everyone is having the same experience and for some it is an utterly heartbreaking ordeal. That realization makes my time with my family all the more cherished.

Throughout all of this I have also contemplated on just how fragile life is and the indiscriminate nature of this virus. It doesn’t care if you are conservative or liberal, or if you think you’re healthy or not. One minute we can be fine and well, and the next we are gone. Love the people in your life and let them know you love them. Time is short. Time is fleeting. What is a hundred years in eternity? What is hundred years on earth? A speck of time and place in the vastness of the universe. Just enjoy it while you can, at least that is what I keep repeating and reminding myself.

I’ve also learned to better communicate with far away family members. My mother traveled back to a Haiti a few weeks before the coronavirus started in the U.S. and is now stuck there. The horrific news was coming from China and Europe and I advised her not to go during all of this. At first I was upset with her for such a foolish decision, especially since she is high risk due to her age. I’ve come to realize that the same way I let my kids learn from their decisions, I have to do the same with my mother, and respect her decisions, not matter what I think. I’ve been talking to her almost daily through Whatsapp and have really appreciated the in-depth discussions we’re having that probably never would’ve happened with my former busy/hectic schedule. I was always too busy for long phone calls, and now I cherish them and call too frequently. It’s sad that it took a pandemic for me to change.

Lastly, the other wonderful thing that I’ve learned is that I can do things that I always thought I couldn’t. I’ve always liked to write, but always made excuses for not taking the time to do so. Work, family, meetings, responsibilities, and excuse after excuse after excuse. It’s really a cathartic exercise and a way to express how I’m feeling. I think for a lot of people, they’ve looked at this pandemic and subsequent shutdown as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, try something new, or just simply start something that they have planned on doing for a long time. Before this I never had a blog of any sort.

Again, it took a pandemic to get me to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time. Despite the difficulty and the suffering all around us, there are rays of light, and reasons to be positive.

Gratitude In Isolation With 5 Young Kids

As I read the headlines about the Coronavirus death toll in New York and all over the world, I say a silent prayer. Language can’t describe, and others can’t comprehend the agony of loved ones left in a wake of despair and grief. So many words not said, and so many lights dimmed too soon. It is a challenging time for our relatively young species, and we are all being tested in many ways. It contrast, it is beautiful to see many people rising to the challenge as they become the heroes they never knew they were.

As I contemplate on the many stories I read, I feel a profound sense of gratitude for my young, beautiful, bright, children, and my kind and loving wife. I thought it would be difficult to be in isolation all day, every day, with five young kids, and no ability for them to leave to play with friends. It has truly been a special experience, as I’m usually gone at work for many hours, and rarely see them during the day. I get to enjoy my time with them in a way I don’t normally get to. There are many discussions had where I teach, uplift, but most importantly I listen. Surprisingly as we discuss the severity of what is happening all around us, each child, even my youngest, understands and recognizes how fortunate we are.

If we are able to live and breathe for another day, it is a blessing. If we can see the sun and the faces of those we love, it is a blessing. If we can hear the sounds of nature, and the voices of those close to us, it is a blessing. Even if we are alone, but recognize that with God, we are never alone, it is a blessing.

As tough as it is around the world right now we have much to be thankful for. When I was nineteen and serving as a missionary in Africa I lost a close friend to a senseless murder. Even in that time of pain and darkness, I still recognized there was still much to be thankful for including the time I had with my deceased friend.

In everything we go through, we can decide how we react. As Viktor Frankl taught in Man’s Search For Meaning, between stimuli and reaction there is always a space. In that space we can choose how we react. We can choose to be bitter and spiteful, or we can choose to be grateful and hopeful. In a world with enough pain, suffering and anguish for many lifetimes, I choose the latter.