“My hope is that you will harness your education, your creativity and your valor, your voice, your vote — reflecting on all that you’ve witnessed and hungered for, all that you know to be true — and use it to create more equity, more justice and more joy in the world.” – Oprah Winfrey
We are halfway through 2020, a good time to reflect on how the year is going. I doubt that anyone would say the year is turning out as they expected. It has been nothing like what I expected.
Back in January, I had chosen the word “Tranquility” as my guiding word for 2020. So far, I don’t feel even close to tranquil. Recently, I reached out to my life coach, Rachell, because I’ve been struggling with anxiety and felt stuck. I wanted to write a blog post about the death of George Floyd but couldn’t get started. Prayer hadn’t help me to move forward, except to nudge me to call Rachell, who I hadn’t had a session with since January.
The killing of George Floyd was a rude awakening for me. In discussing it with my coach, I saw that part of my reluctance to write about it was due to the many negative and inflammatory comments I see on social media. If I wrote something, would people react against me? I’ve seen people get defensive and angry when others tried to educate them on racial issues. People might unfollow my blog. And what if, in my ignorance, I said something incorrectly and caused offense without meaning to?
Rachell encouraged me to think about why I did want to write the post. I realized I’d feel worse if I kept silent. My purpose is to create a life-giving world, and writing is one of my talents. I need to speak out as part of my effort to be a Woman Making Strides—to be someone who uses her God-given talents to better the world, even if people disagree with me. When I thought about the blog post in those terms, it felt exciting, rather than a dreaded chore. I hope this post will spark some thoughts or conversation. Maybe we can all try to learn more about racism.
In the last few minutes of his life, George Floyd repeatedly said, “Please, please I can’t breathe.” This was a man, calling for his mama as his life was drained from him. The police officer kept his knee pressed against George’s neck for eight minutes—even after he became unresponsive. We would not tolerate an animal being treated like that. George Floyd was a person, a human being that God created. And this was not an isolated incident.
I am not saying all or even most police officers are racist and brutal. By far, they are not, and many risk their lives to keep us safe. But there are racist people in law enforcement as well as scattered throughout our population. I am old enough to remember the race protests and riots in the late 60s. That’s what was most eye-opening about this for me. I realized we have made little or no progress in eliminating racism since the 1960s. Too many of us have kept silent, not trying to understand our part in it. Unfortunately, this allows racism to continue.
I live in a primarily white world and don’t often think about what it’s like to be a minority, what it’s like to be born into poverty with few opportunities, what it’s like to face discrimination on a daily basis. That is part of my white privilege, and I am working to gain more knowledge about systemic racism and how I can help to combat it. I hope everyone makes an effort to do the same.
This recent unrest has occurred while we also face a global pandemic. That also has made 2020 different than I expected. I’ve been acting like my life is on hold, but I’m realizing I need to find a new normal for now. I can’t keep waiting for the pandemic to go away or for a vaccine to be available. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. I am not going to pretend the pandemic doesn’t exist, go to parties, or refuse to wear a mask. Rather, I need to learn how to live and enjoy life while taking safety precautions for the sake of those around me and for myself.
Part of my “new normal” may include getting back to my ministry of being church librarian. The library is not open, so this might be a good time for me to go there and catch up. Nature is so soothing for me that I could enjoy it more often besides my daily walks and gardening. I can sit outside and read, pray, or check emails. I have also recently started spending a few minutes a day on my mystery novel. That is only a baby step, but baby steps are far better than nothing. I am trying to see writing as a pleasure and to be more lighthearted, rather than feeling pressured and anxious. That also seems like a good way to live life, even life in these troubled times.
One of the things I miss the most during this pandemic is going to outdoor concerts. In the past, my husband Ken and I went to concerts twice a week all summer long. Some of those concerts are now being live streamed. So Ken and I take a laptop to the backyard, plug in an Ethernet cable, and add a speaker. We sit on lawn chairs and drink a glass of wine. I forget my worries, forget my do list, and enjoy the music. It almost feels like we are at the concert, and it helps me to be in the present.
What about you? How are you doing? We are dealing with a global pandemic, racial unrest, and divisive politics. If you’re not functioning at full capacity, that’s OK. But this time in history is still our life. Let’s make the best of it.
How can you create more joy in your life during these troubled times? How can you create more joy in the world for people who could use support?