Our youngest daughter and her husband navigated a recent decision in a backward fashion. A series of unplanned events led her to text me this phrase:
“Sometimes I stumble backward into clover”
I had to chuckle because it’s an accidental but often true system of decision making in her life. She tends to stumble into a lot of things that end up being lovely, good and nourishing to her soul. In fact, as a family we often shake our heads at how challenges for her become gold. It frustrates the 3 of us firstborns who like life to be a series of planned decisions leading to perfect outcomes.
But her comment had me thinking about the pandemic and how it’s redefined our personal lives in unexpected ways. Maybe you’re tolerating all the restrictions, knowing that in the end you’ll return to the life you had pre-pandemic. Essential workers of all kinds are still keeping schedules outside of their homes. Many people are simply biding their time.
But for the many who have been laid off, let go, cut back, ill, and especially teachers and students, life has taken a stumble backwards and we’re wondering if it will ever be the same again.
How many times have I stumbled backward in life?!
Too many to count. Homeschooling was one of the endeavors I stumbled into. It felt thorny at first, there were plenty of tears and even some yelling. But there was also uninterrupted time together. Books read around the breakfast table that will always be remembered. The end of year dumping of math texts and practice pages then shopping and lunch to celebrate. Both girls have found their professional callings and are settled in them, they serve the public in meaningful ways. It blesses and satisfies me to know they love what they do.
Several of our relocations were backward stumbles, sooo backward! Yet they’ve enriched our lives with unexpected experiences. Churches, jobs, provision, home equity that we could leverage as needed. And all the people…
They are the sweetest clover for me
My retail years were a bit of a backward stumble. All I hoped to do was get out of the house a bit, have a nice discount and enjoy some time doing something for myself. Instead, I ended up making a salary, providing benefits in between jobs, even ran my own store. Our girls enjoyed a relationship with their dad that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. He stepped in to parent them on weekends, took them shopping, coached their college choices and taught them about adult life. Many times a meal turned into a life discussion on faith, politics and “not datable” guys.
Our move to Chicago wasn’t a stumble, it was an intentional decision. But being laid off in a pandemic is turning into one! As we’ve navigated this season, we’ve played out various scenarios about the future. And as we continue to navigate things, new or unexpected details arise to confirm the next decision. Sometimes hourly! For a couple of control freaks, it’s a test of our patience. So is the clover in the final outcome, or is it in the journey?
I hope it’s both
As we look back on this year from the future, what will stand out? Will it be all the inconveniences? The frustrations? The social unrest? Joblessness? The politics (oh Lordy)? Or will we remember that clover grows in the most unlikely places?
What will the clover be from this backward stumble?
One of the things that I think has reared it’s ugly little head in our populace, is how much Americans are in an idolatrous relationship with convenience. We love life to be stress free. Worry free. Easy. Comfortable. We feel that our rights are violated when we have to abide by restrictions we deem unnecessary.
Take the outright rage against wearing a mask. Bruce recently calmed a drive through window worker because she’d been verbally assaulted by a customer who told her she didn’t need to wear a mask (even though IL will fine her company heavily if she doesn’t). Poor girl was in tears when he pulled up. When he got home all he could say was,
“What is wrong with people!”
Yes wearing a mask is inconvenient, I make them and I hate wearing them. The general science is for it, but there are others who say it doesn’t help. But here is my question – What does it cost you to wear one? How does it hurt you? Even if the eventual science is debunked one day, how has it harmed you to follow the mandate or suggestion at this time?
Convenience is something Americans have long enjoyed and invented. Going all the way back to Edison (and even before him), we’ve been innovators in convenience technology. Imagine your life without electricity.
But the root of a love-in with convenience is ME. MY life is easier, better, more comfortable and convenient when I possess all the technology that makes it so. Convenience itself isn’t bad, but the behaviors that result from it’s absence are telling.
Especially for Christians
When I see believers demanding, accusatory and shaming each other because of a perceived lack of faith and courage in the face of our times, I want to cry. Where is the love and grace that we are called to extend to each other? Where is the care that says “my liberty isn’t as important as respecting your restrictions?”
Over something as benign as a mask…
The ability to determine what is inconvenient vs what is truly persecution is a skill the American church needs to develop. All we need to do is look to other countries where true persecution is rampant and realize that right now, a pandemic isn’t our problem. Nor is the local government which is trying to protect the citizenry from it’s own worst behaviors.
We need to stumble backward a little
Learn to ‘take one on the chin’ so to speak and refuse to insist on our rights as they pertain to our personal freedoms. If we do this I wonder what will happen?
Maybe the world will see that we aren’t the ideological bricks they’ve assumed we are. Maybe they will see that we love each other enough to set aside our differences and that we act like a family that bands together in tough times. Maybe the world will see that we are all about THEE vs all about ME…