When The Story Becomes Personal

Out of curiosity, how many times has life caught you off guard this week? Maybe this month?

‘Kay, if we’re being honest, this whole year has pretty much caught me off guard. 2020 will definitely be one for the personal history book.

But even so. We still have grand aspirations, don’t we?

I think most of us know that type of response we’d like to have to all this change – at least theoretically. One that’s controlled. Courageous. Wise.

Theoretically, being strong is the obvious choice. 

Theoretically, it’s easy to respond rather than to react. To control our self-talk and thoughts. To be the sort of leader or follower we ought to be in any given situation.

But when the theoretical becomes the personal?

Ugh. A lot less easy.

Sometimes we get advance warning about life changes. But oftentimes, we don’t. One day, life is normal. The next, everything has changed – sometimes forever. And with the rapid-fire change of events brought around by the coronavirus, many, many lives have changed.

Some short-term. Some long-term. Some in minor ways. Some in major ones. Some with warning. Some without a hint.

And wow, it’s making me think this week. So many times, I take life for granted. I take my normal for granted.

I wonder if I appreciate it, truly, for the gift it is?

And if I see—truly see—those whose normal has changed forever? Do they know they matter?

Do I listen?

Or am I too busy skipping along in my own little normal to notice?  

While I may not personally have a high risk for severe infection, I – like so many others – do have family members who are. Dearest friends and family who are working, day-in and day-out, in our hospitals and streets and businesses to keep us safe and healthy – so that the rest of us can stay safely at home. But at the end of the day, they’re still okay, and they’re still healthy, and suddenly I can’t take that for granted anymore.

Work changed a lot for me this week, as it has for so many, and brought with it many big questions I’ll have to figure out for the summer. But at the end of the day, I still have some work, and I still have options available, and suddenly I can’t take those for granted anymore.

But what about those who don’t have a job anymore, period? Or those who don’t have great options available to them? Or whose grandparents, or immediate family, or dear friends, are the ones who are sick or battling for life?

 Actually – strange as it may sound – I’m glad that COVID-19 didn’t leave me entirely unscathed. Because when the theoretical becomes personal, it reminds us of a deep-rooted human need – one for love and for care and for being seen.

It reminds us to seize today and live it for all it’s worth, taking neither its gifts nor the people we love for granted.

It reminds us that courage is played out in the living, not in the anticipating.

So whether your “normal” stays constant or changes tomorrow—or indeed has already changed, maybe forever—know that there are people in your life who see you. Who get you. Who know you and who care, so so much.  

And people who need to be seen by you.

Who need to be known and cared for. Who need to be reminded that they’re loved, and that even if their “normal” has been shattered, it’s going to be okay.

When the theoretical becomes personal to us, may we be better, stronger, braver people for it.

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