At the beginning of this week, we packed up our masks and a whole lot of food and moved our social distancing party to a quiet, beach condo for a few days. It was a much needed “break” from our current reality.
Unless you never turn on any news . . . like never ever . . . you likely know that Texas is currently one of the hottest hot spots for COVID in the United States. Oh my goodness y’all, the fighting and the tension and the ugliness. The questions (arguments . . . straight up throw downs . . . ) about what we should do . . . should we start school? . . . what about sports? . . . camps? . . . church? . . . so many questions, and honestly, almost no answers.
And as we were driving home today, I was thinking about and processing everything that’s going on and maybe . . . kind sort of . . . okay, most definitely . . . had quite a pity party going on in my head. I was bummed our only vacation this summer is a few short days at the beach, and I was also lamenting the fact that after cancelling a weekend getaway for Patrick and myself in March, we ended up cancelling our anniversary getaway as well. Even the possibility of a short date is off the table for the moment. Never mind, that we, as a family and as a couple, have been some amazing places in the past and will, I’m sure, have ample opportunity to travel in the future. Never mind, that we were very blessed to be able to take off for even a short amount of time to the beach. Never mind that there are people fighting for their lives right now and any number of essential workers sacrificing so much to keep us safe and healthy. Never mind any of that. Yep, quite the pathetic pity party was being thrown.
Then one of my kids said something that struck me as a little entitled, and I immediately set to work setting said child straight on that particular issue (kids will be kids after all). But as I was giving this stellar lecture (I’m so good at lectures), the Holy Spirit brought to my attention that my thoughts, had they been verbalized, sounded very much like those of an entitled brat. Because the truth is, none of these things we’re giving up . . . trips . . . parties . . . entertainment . . . even going to church in person (no one is stopping us from worshipping . . . no one is turning off the almost constant media stream of church services and teachings) . . . are not truly sacrifices . . . they’re inconveniences, but they’re not true sacrifices. Not in light of what people, Christians, suffer the world over.
If you know me, you know that, in general, all the COVID stay at home stuff hasn’t really bothered me because I am very much a homebody, but we do love to travel. And we do take our kids out to eat and to do fun things periodically (pre-‘rona, of course). However, it often seems like we idolize both entertainment and the subsequent emotional happiness to a fault in our society, and I’ve always felt like I have a God-given obligation to teach my kids that life isn’t solely about them having every little thing they want nor is it primarily about them being happy.
Hear me now before I go any further, I do want my kids to be truly happy and fulfilled. Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” If you’ve ever been to our home, you know my kids are not lacking for much of anything, and believe me, they get plenty of good gifts (like the actual material kind . . . they have all the things so calm yourself down). But I also know that happiness as an emotion can be very subjective, and the things we think will bring us happiness often leave us empty, hollow, and wanting more.
Ultimately, I think the greatest gift I can give my kids is to help them learn that true fulfillment . . . true happiness . . . true joy . . . come not from being selfish and chasing after every want and whim that comes into our heads but from being selfless . . . these things come first, from loving and serving God, and second, from loving and serving others. And I can look at this time, this pandemic, as a curse (which I fully believe the sickness itself comes straight from satan), or I can see it as an opportunity to teach my kids that even when nothing seems to be going your way, you can still choose to love and embrace the life God has given you. The truth is, we’re all a little weary right now. We’re all kind of sick of this “stupid coronavirus”, as my 7 year old calls it. But the bottom line is, I have to walk out what I want for my children and remember that I am here to set the precedent for them. If I’m acting like an entitled brat then how can I expect them to act any better? And the Word of God is so good and it always speaks to whatever it is we’re facing (not just the coronavirus, but every single challenge we come against) . . .
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:8-9
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of crooked and perverse generation, among who you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15
That’s not to say, I’ll never have another pity party or meltdown, but it is to say that I’ll trust God to bring it to my attention and keep me in check when I do. And I’ll keep “fighting the good fight” because as the saying goes “this too shall pass”, but I have no doubt that as long as we’re walking this earth there will always be challenges to face and overcome.
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