The other day, after a deluge of personal bad news (even after the bad News on TV and in the media), my heart was moved to pity when my husband asked for maybe the 10th time that day “What’s wrong?” With anxiety raining down around us, I confess I have deeper lines in my forehead and between my eyes. And he has a habit of looking at my face in concern for what is concerning me. I was thinking about how I could lighten up and lessen his worry, and came up with a tiny plan.
The next morning while brushing my teeth, my husband watched me with my again- furrowed brow (this has become my go-to expression for thinking, festering and whatnot) and once more asked “What’s wrong?” I looked up, (finished brushing) smiled and said “What’s RIGHT? Quick! Name three things!” He proceeded to list three things (two of which were very funny) and my little scheme worked.
This idea of turning a question on its ear, was a seed planted by the cashier at the grocery the day before. Behind her plexiglass and required mask she asked me how I was doing while she weighed my small bunch of cilantro. “Ok,” I started, in my Water Mitty-esque vacant way, “and you?”
“Good!” She answered perkily, telling me about how she is constantly asked by her little girl to read stories, since Covid has them home so much. She then paused and added how she thought that was actually a gift, and she was grateful. Then she asked me a question that stopped my sulking for a moment and made me wake up and think.
“What are some of the good things that you surprisingly have enjoyed since this Covid thing has started?”
Wow. Thinking about my joys stopped my pity train and turned my thoughts in the opposite direction.
I slowly started listing things.
“Gosh, I guess I have been enjoying planting flowers, organizing things, clearing out clutter…” For a moment, I forgot the litany of whining I had been singing to myself and God lately; feeling deprived of other things that I haven’t had time to do—like write, draw, and paint—but the fact is that my family is constantly together. And although I am always in the kitchen (like a summer break that never ends) and I can’t keep up with the dishes, I know that where God has me now is intentional. I am becoming more attentive to the needs of those in my midst. Perhaps this is something that I have been neglectful of in the past, as I strived to satiate my own personal creative needs.
I feel as though God is doing something new everywhere and for everyone. My stepmom and I talked about how it feels like a 1950’s kind of a world now, where the store shelves are low on flour, canned beans, and as she noticed, “all of the best yarn and much of the fabric was sold out as people drag out their sewing machines again!”
We cook more, clean more, play games together more, build a fire more and look into each other’s eyes more. Maybe there is a mask hiding beneath those eyes, but it doesn’t take away the truth, which is that we still belong to each other through God. My heart melted in this realization one day as I overheard one woman say to another at the store through her mask, “I am smiling at you under here.”
A friend told me that her pastor said to everyone at church one day that he could see the sadness in their eyes. He could see the heaviness in their shoulders. He encourage everyone to remember that they are blessed and free and it’s ok to spend a few minutes saying hello and chatting with each other. That truth seem to break all kinds of sadness off the people.
Let’s wake up each morning, remembering that perhaps tomorrow, we could even say that today was one of the best days of our lives, and we don’t know what surprising little joys God will show us. At the end of the day take a little inventory and ask ourselves “What’s right?”