Okay for just a minute can you put aside your political opinions, medical theories and personal preferences? I know, it’s a big request. Seems like the world is running on opinions, theories and preferences right now!
I have a simple question, Are you ready to get back to normal? I don’t know when it will be…apparently no one else does either. Here are a few headlines about normal
Vermont Gov Phil Scott Our state will be back to normal by July
Bill Gates The world will be back to normal by end of 2022
Texas Gov Greg Abbott We are lifting all restrictions and re-opened the state 100%
South Dakota has developed a Back to Normal Plan
We have been living on Zoom meetings. Doing much of our working, schooling, family gathering and worshiping on a screen at home. We've been living in a pandemic world for over a year now, and for better or worse, many of us are used to our new social routines.
But as vaccinations ramp up and restrictions begin to loosen across the country, the new question is: Are we ready? After so much time apart, do we remember normal? Should we go back to normal?
We haven't returned to "normal" yet, but it feels like things are beginning to shift: We can almost hear the backyard barbecues; the cubicle-to-cubicle chatter; those awkward conversations and even see the funny looks people have been making under their masks.
As normal gets closer, it seems like it would be a good idea to pause. We have been through a lot. Many people actually went through the 5 stages of grief even though they didn’t lose a love one. Of course those who did felt it even more pointedly.
We all had moments of doubting this stuff, angry at losing things, concerns for children and wondering about masks, vaccines and getting sick (or not).
Here is my point, it would be crazy to live through something like this and not learn from it. Most experts agree we haven’t seen anything like this in 100 years and hopefully won’t see anything like it again in our future.
In that vein I have two questions for your to consider. And I hope you really will, don’t just read past them. Take a minute, think about it. Come up with your own answer. I will give you mine but they are my answers. Your answers will be much better for you.
1) What do you want to leave behind?
There is nothing like losing things to help you gain clarity. Some of the things you lost you had taken for granted and it really got your attention when you had to do without it. Like sending your kids to school!
Some of the things we lost we complained about but realized they weren’t really all that important. Not commuting to work every day felt like a win! Most of these you had no say. But what about the areas where you get to decide?
What has the last year taught you about what you can do without? Are there things, attitudes, possessions, habits, schedules you now realize would be better to leave behind as we get closer to normal?
I can think of one. Division can die with the pandemic as far as I am concerned. I know it won’t and I am not becoming wishy washy and giving up my convictions or faith in the least. What I do want to leave behind is the arguing, demonizing, finger pointing, wild claims, and the temptation to politicize Every. Single. Thing. It is old and hurtful.
Who benefits when all we do is tear at each other? I know this will continue out in the world but for me and for Mt Ridge Church. It shouldn’t and it can’t.
We have more important things to do. It is hard to love God with all I have and love my neighbor as myself when I am looking for any missed step to pounce, correct and criticize.
There was a church once in Corinth that struggled with division. The instructions to them were clear in 1 Corinthians 1:10:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
There is only one way for that to happen. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t make anyone do anything. I can choose to leave all the division as I get back to normal.
2) What do you want to hold on to?
Believe it or not some great things happened. Babies were born, couples were married, people graduated, new believers put their trust in Christ, churches found new ways to serve their communities and in many ways life slowed down last year.
It wasn’t all bad. Maybe you connected more deeply as a family when you weren’t running in 17 directions all at the same time. Did you find yourself sleeping better? Were you more present with people? My guess is you can find something good about this last season.
What do you want to take with you as we go back to normal? For me it is slowing down with people. I know my schedule will be full…and that is ok. What I don’t want to do is blow by people on my schedule.
I am going to “walk slowly through the crowd”. Meeting people’s eyes with my own. Giving people space who want it, letting other people go first. Giving the gift of patient listening instead of thinking about my answer. Not because of fear of the virus, it is a better more considerate way to live. Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be about me…at all!
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
I never thought I would find the pandemic pointing me to Philippians but here it is.
The temptation when things get back to normal is for you to go back to normal. Please don’t! Allow the hard times you have experience to mature you, to mold you and make you into more of what you were created to be. You learned some things, take advantage of that.
Believe me there are few things I am looking forward to when there are no restrictions anywhere. There is also at least one thing I am leaving behind and one thing I am going to be sure to take with me.
What about you?
Leave behind what can so easily entangle you and press forward to take hold of what Christ has ahead of you. I am rooting for you. Mt Ridge is for you, God is for you. Let's do this together!
Hey if any of your leave behind or hang onto thoughts were around relationships, you will want to join us this Sunday in person or online for our new series. Relationship Goals. Check out the video below to get a preview.
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