I am sure that some of you are familiar with the Byrds’ song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which was released 55 years ago next week! Ha, I was just a kid. The song, written by Pete Seeger, was an adaption of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...” This Bible verse then goes on to describe 28 contrasting events, i.e., “a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap,…” covering, for the most part, everything pertinent to life. It is a true statement–for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven!
I know that I am not alone in feeling like we have been enduring a very stressful, heart wrenching season – one which feels like it is never going to end. A serious pandemic, economic stress, unimaginable political strife and polarization, social unrest, out-right hostility and contempt for others, and a never ending assault on our hopes and dreams has violated everyone’s sense of stability. Fear and anxiety are at all-time highs, ranking right at the top with distrust and lack of confidence. It is not a pretty picture. But it is not forever; it is just a season that will pass!
When? None of us have any idea. Yet, there exists the opportunity for each of us to begin to stir up the winds of change that will precede the dawn of a new Season. I believe there are seven things that each of us can and must do to bring about a positive change.
Being forthright, I am writing this to help me to reframe my thinking and get back on track. I am guilty of becoming so obsessed with the “cares and concerns of the world” that my vision has become blurred, and I’ve been distracted from my mission and ministry. And I know that I am not alone in this!
The first thing that we all need to do is to stop, take a deep breath and move our thoughts out of the immediate, and transfer them into the future, the imaginative, the hopeful. There is a powerful truth in the proverb that says without vision people will perish. We each need to refresh our vision. What is it that we are hoping for? What changes do we want to see happen, and what role can each of us take in accomplishing that? We can stop being paralyzed by the crisis du jour by creating a vision of a New Season.
Next, take stock of everything good in our lives. Whatever is a blessing, pleasant, lovely, treasured and beautiful – dwell on these things. When we are able to stand back and take a thoughtful look at our lives, there is so much to be thankful for. Our family, relationships, work, home, freedoms, and more blessing far overshadow and overwhelm the negative if you will just let it.
Another action necessary to bring about change is to dial back our emotional intensity. I’m not saying that we don’t need to be passionate or driven. But we must stop allowing our emotions to control us and learn instead, to control them. Be it politics, religious beliefs, social injustice or diverse philosophies, we need to learn how to agree to disagree! Appreciate that we have different perspectives and don’t become angry or hostile towards another’s point of view. It’s all about tolerance, and not allowing ourselves to reach our boiling point and erupt like Mount Vesuvius.
Fourth--and maybe one of the most difficult--seek for unity and to be at peace with everyone. I often muse over the phrase “the United States of America.” Right now, it doesn’t feel all that “united.” There is so much division, polarization, distrust and even hatred. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We all have similar needs, desires and hopes. The biggest obstacle to unity and peace is selfishness! At the risk of sounding cliché or trite, we need to live the Golden Rule. By treating others as you would like to be treated, and making the effort to live this way, coupled with forgiveness and compassion, we can go a long way towards ushering in a new attitude, maybe even an appreciation and a better understanding of others.
I can say one thing good about this pandemic, it has no bias. This virus fervently seeks a host in which to replicate itself, and it makes no difference if you are rich, poor, old, young, male, female, et cetera, if it can and it will attack you. Similarly, we need to value every person the same and show no partiality, prejudice, differentiation whatsoever.
Next, and I cannot say this enough, we all need to be kind to one another, to show compassion, empathy and concern for one another’s wellbeing. If every one of us went out of our way on a regular basis to show kindness, or just friendliness, wow, what a positive impact that could have. We need to move past differences and embrace the fact that we are all living together, and need each other to have a healthy persona, community and society. Nothing overcomes anger and hostility as does the power of kindness and genuine caring.
Sixth, it is essential that each of us learn to be introspective and contrite. Another way of putting this, we need to be humble and not think more of ourselves than we deserve! I see a lot of self-righteousness and haughtiness manifest within our society today. We are all guilty of it to some degree. If we honestly assess our shortcomings and flaws, it is very helpful for setting our minds free and giving us a healthy perspective of how we fit into the whole of society. Asking for forgiveness is cathartic. As we dream about our New Season, about a better future, it won’t happen if we are stuck in self-centered me-ism. We must become other-centered and pursue the common good for all.
Finally, and most importantly, let us never forget the power of love. I think there is no better definition of love than this: “Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails!” Oh, that we could all live our lives like this – we should never stop trying.
During this Holiday Season, where charity, giving, caring and compassion generally dictate much of our behavior and activity, let’s agree to make an effort to keep that spirit and attitude alive, and do everything within our power to usher in a New Season. It’s time to move out of the uncomfortable darkness of this epoch of history. If we each do our part, we’ll be off to a great start!
To begin your journey in making a positive change in our world, donate to FCNI to help ensure that local families impacted by trauma have a positive holiday experience. Click here to donate now!