“How are you doing?”
When I’m presented with that question my response these past months has been, “Keeping my head above water…” A reference to the theme song of Good Times. I really cannot think of a better image for how I’m handling all that is happening in the world and in my own personal and professional life. I’m not a great swimmer, but I love the water. So the image of myself, in an adult sized life vest, in the middle of an ocean ebbing and flowing between calm and thrashing waves pretty much sums up my socio-emotional well-being. Can you relate?
Over these months I feel like I have learned to expect the unexpected. There has been so much out of my control that the idea of having a set plan seems futile. People continue to lose loved ones to this devastating virus. One week schools are in hybrid, another week they are virtual, only to be followed by hybrid again. To say that the Presidential election was a roller-coaster would be a huge understatement as people sat and wondered how the next four years of their life, and beyond, would play out. Even though my scrolls through Instagram and Facebook are met with baby photos, engagement announcements, and perfectly plated meals—I still scroll with trepidation. I am fearful of another name preceded by a hashtag, fearful of another video.
How can I prepare for anything in this state of mind? Then I read “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Then I remember that it is Advent. I realize that I can prepare because I know exactly what is going to happen…Jesus will be born. I can prepare because I know exactly what Jesus will bring—redemption, comfort, healing, peace, understanding, love, joy and justice. This is one event that is completely out of my control, this is one event that will highly benefit my soul.
I want to close by sharing a text exchange between myself and my friend Lauren:
Lauren: I have to keep reminding myself that the pandemic doesn’t magically end on Christmas because we waited four dark weeks. I have Disney princess brain.
Me: Lol. Pandemic won’t end but hopefully Grace is felt a little deeper and Hope a little stronger.
Lauren: Amen. I was reading that the enemy can’t emulate the fruits of the spirit, so as we experience patience, we should rejoice instead of groan since it’s a fruit. A true gift!
I encourage us to take advantage of the chance to rejoice this season!
And as I wrote this reflection, I received a picture of one of my best friend’s second child! Welcome to the world John James Dougherty VIII, I dedicate this reflection to you.
Justin T. White is a theology teacher at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland.