Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode where today, as always, I’m here to help us consider how we can experience more joy in our relationships.
Are you tired of all the coronavirus news? Almost all of which is depressing and negative. Some of which is conflicting information. One week it’s the average person on the street should not be wearing masks when they’re out and about, and then two weeks later it’s all of us SHOULD be wearing masks.
It’s like columnist Peggy Noonan’s comment from episode 57 that I mentioned a few weeks back: “We’re all just feeling our way through this, and it’s going to be a mess.”
At the risk of adding to the information overload about the coronavirus, today I want to offer one simple but useful perspective I’m almost certain you haven’t heard elsewhere. I know I haven’t. I’m convinced it could make these difficult times not only more bearable for us, but actually enriching. So keep listening.
I can sum up this perspective on the Covid-19 crisis in three words:
Let’s Create Something!
Let’s use our current coronavirus problem as an opportunity to create something. When this crisis is over and done with, we may not have the unique opportunity to create something as we do now. One of these days we’ll be back to our place of employment with our co-workers, the kids will return to school, and the routine we followed before the virus hit will soon dominate our lives. The disruption in all this now gives us an opportunity to enrich the relationships in our life.
Genesis 1 tells us all people are created in the image of God. Because God is a creator, when we create something we are reflecting the character of God. When we create something, it’s one way we connect in our relationship with God. We become his image bearers when we create.
So let’s create something.
I suggest three ways we can create. The first is
I have been working on de-cluttering my office. What used to be a dinning room table in our last house is now my desk in our down-sized new house. The act of getting rid of stuff that accumulated on top of it, is freeing my mind for new possibilities. It’s like airing out the house the first time it gets warm after a long cold winter.
On a larger scale, we can remove a distraction in our life so we can focus on what’s important in our relationships. We can intentionally remove a dysfunctional pattern of behavior in how we relate to people. Sometimes creation starts with elimination. We can start from scratch.
We have the option to remove activities in our life that keep us from relationships. Free ourselves up for relationships with people, by removing that which only serves to keep us busy.
It’s energizing to create some void in our life, some space, so God can fill it with something more fulfilling than what we discard. I think of sports at the moment. There’s a void there at the moment. Nothing much from the sports world on TV now, except things like the 1993 State of Montana High School Girls Volleyball Tournament. Let’s use this forced-upon-us void in the spring of 2020 to fill with something new, and good. Something that’s creative for us.
So remove something. That’s the first way we can create. The second way to create is
Here’s a real simple example:
The other day Janet made bread with a bread maker we haven’t used in years. Took a loaf to two different neighbors. Both grateful. One returned several days later with a plate of homemade cookies, and a card. The front of the card was a quote from Samuel Johnson (18th century English writer) that read
“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which all enterprise and labor tends.”
On the inside our neighbor wrote a thank you note for the bread and said she loved Janet’s idea of baking something to give to a neighbor, and that she was doing the same. What a great way to create something, not just baked goods, but to use what is created to create a slightly strong connection with a neighbor.
Janet also made a batch of cookies. Took them to a friends house for their 3 young kids, the oldest of which is in 1st grade.
We called before we came, and put them on their porch while we waited for them in our car for them to come out. The parents chatted with us from the appropriate distances. Kids grabbed the cookies and went inside, while we talked with mom and dad.
The kids’ mom told us their daughter’s teacher encouraged her 1st grade students to stay connected with each other by writing letters to one another during this stay-at-home period.
Mom told us their oldest, Naomi, didn’t want to go back to school. She loved her teacher and learning, but she said she would miss the letters that her classmates were sending back and forth to each other. Many of them just left in mailboxes, others through the postal service.
The next day I mailed note to the kids. I asked if they write a story for me. A story about a deer. A feather. And a birthday cake.
Why did we do all this?
For us, it was an act of creation. It was to add an experience to our home-bound life by driving to our friends’ house to connect with them. Hadn’t seen them in weeks. And we missed them.
Connecting ourselves with this couple through something very important to them – their children.
“When you love my baby you love me.”
With regard to the note I mailed to the kids, it was to create maybe 5- 10 minutes of respite for Mom while the kids worked on the book project.
At the time of this podcast production, the kids had written the story, and were just getting started on the illustrations. Mom said they will mail it to us when they finish. I can’t wait to see what they came up with. What they created.
One way to create is to make something. Make a loaf of bread. Make a batch of cookies. Make an experience. Or a million other things. And then use what you make to foster a relationship.
The third way we can create is to
Janet created a connection with our neighbor by sharing what she made, which our neighbor reciprocated. That deepened our connection with her and her husband.
Then we connected with the young couple I mentioned with the 3 young kids, through the cookies Janet made, and through the experience I created for their children for the story I asked them to write.
Creating enhanced connections like these remind us during these very difficult times we are not going through them alone.
Another connection we can make that is helpful during times like this is to connect our current situation with the past, with what has happened before. To consider our relationship with time. To connect with the past. To put the present in the context of the past.
You may heard variations of comments like this from the news media
“These are unprecedented times. We are in uncharted waters. We’ve never been through anything like this before.”
In a sense that’s true. The specifics of the events of the Covid-19 pandemic are things we haven’t experienced before.
However, if we take the time connect the current with the past, statements like the above are not true. Our national health has been endangered before, just as it is now.
The polio scare of the early and mid 1950’s altered my childhood. We were afraid then, as we are now. But we made it through it.
Before that, there was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. It infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world's population at the time. Anywhere from 17 to 50 million people died, and possibly as high as 100 million. But we survived as a nation, though we were afraid then, too.
In last week’s episode, no. 58, I mentioned Martin Luther’s response to the Bubonic Plague, the Black Plague of the 16th century, one fourth of Europe died because of the plague, but Europe survived and they survived too.
Back here in the US, during the later part of the ’50’s we didn’t have active shooters in school like sometimes happen today. Instead we had atom bomb drills where we sat in the hallways with arms over our head for protection. We were afraid then, too. But we all made it.
In 1962 we thought it was all over with the Cuban Missile Crisis and A-bombs would be headed our way in any moment. We were really, really afraid then. Afraid of Nikita Khrushchev, premier of the Soviet Union at the time, who once got so angry at the United States in addressing the United Nations Assembly he took off his shoe and banged it on the podium where he was speaking. On another occasion he said of western nations, “We will bury you!” But we all made it through that.
A year later JFK, one of the most loved presidents in our history was gunned down. We were afraid then too, and deeply grieving. But we all made it.
In April of ’68 Martin Luther King jr. was assassinated , followed by the slaying of presidential hopeful, Bobby Kennedy 2 months later. But we all made it through that national turmoil too. Afraid, but we made it.
We’re afraid now, but just like before we’ll make it through this too.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
The difficult times we are in can be eased, and even enriched, when as people of faith we look for ways to reflect the character of God. And one way is to create, because God created. We can create by removing something. Making something. Connecting something.
Here’s what you can do in response to today’s show.
What can you connect our present times with in your own personal history?What have you learned from past difficulties in your life, that you can draw upon to deal with today’s problems? What can you make to share with someone? A photograph? A batch of cookies?
What can you remove from your life to create more open space, which in turn helps create peace. Empty space in your garage? Your basement? Maybe even your care. We can all create. And when we do, we make God smile because he creates too.
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Now for Our Relationship Quote of the Week
I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights. I live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God. The kingdom is not in trouble and neither am I. ~ James Bryan Smith, author
That’s all for today. See you next week. Good Bye for now.