Change is difficult.
Even when we plan for change, or choose change, or embrace change – becoming or accepting or being “different” is a challenging reality.
Across recent weeks, people and places all around our world have been faced with (and even forced into) change. With little (or sometimes no) warning or choice or preparation time, our personal and professional routines and habits have been interrupted or upended.
Instead of going to school or work or engaging in public activities, we are now encouraged or implored or lawfully directed to “practice social distancing” or “shelter in place” or “self-quarantine” – and simply #StayHome. Community conventions and personal practices that may have seemed mundane or obligatory just days or weeks ago are suddenly missed and sought-after rituals and securities, as we collectively endeavor to protect ourselves and our loved ones and our neighbors and our world from a non-discriminating and invasive virus.
In addition to change, we – as individuals and communities – are dealing with the cumulative stress of unknowns, and with the frustrations of limited control and choices and resources, and with the very real fear of losses – loss of life, or of livelihood, or of little comforts that make a mega-difference in daily life. We are weighted with considerations and revolutionary shifts that touch so many aspects of our living and be’ing – social and emotional, financial and physical, medical and moral, spiritual and logistical, and more…
Indeed, change is difficult.
And the reason for the recent and sudden personal and global changes that we are facing is scary, for each of us, and for all of us.
As “Mama Peace” – I wish I could offer some bit of “Mattie-wisdom” or something of my own “beach chair philosophy” that would calm the heart and mind and spirit of humanity. I ache to guarantee all of my local and global neighbors – each child and leader, each learner and adult, each person and place – that this will end well, for each of us and for all of us. But I cannot…
However, I can and will say – with hope and without hesitation – that someday, and somehow, we will be okay.
I cannot promise that we will be okay with each and all of the realities we are facing, or those that will unfold across the coming days or months ahead.
I cannot promise that we will be okay with each and all of the changes or the inevitable shifts in how we live as individuals and as communities.
Yet, while I do not know the “which day” or “which how” of such a truth, I do believe – with hope, and without hesitation – that we can and will be “okay” with who and how we are as people and places. I believe this because we – each of us and all of us – are created of love and with purpose and for community, and I have witnessed, time and time (and time and time and time) again, the best of humanity during some of the worst of happenings – in my life, and in our world.
And so, I can and do promise each and every person and place that #HopeIsReal.
Hope is not wishful thinking or reaching for some elusive star that ever-and-forever will be just beyond our fingertips.
Hope is not denying burdens or wearing rose-colored glasses or turning a blind eye to frustrations and devastations.
Instead, hope is an energy that strengthens the heart and mind and spirit. And, when rooted in faith, when grounded in goodness and purpose, the truth and energy of hope can move us from “this moment” into “some next moment.”
Perhaps that next moment will be as miserable or momentous or mundane as this one. But “that moment” is a new moment. And every moment, like every person, has the potential for goodness and for purpose. The truth of a person, or of a moment, need not be limited to or defined by tragic or triumphant or trivial facts, but celebrated and amplified by potential – and faith, and the power of hope and humanity.
Change… by chance or by choice, by freewill or by force, is difficult. And the current changes will – at least for a while longer – continue to be thrust into and onto our lives, welcomed or not, as we sift and sort and shift and shuffle how we live and “be” in ways that will help minimize the spread of a pandemic and deadly and resource-consuming virus.
We cannot choose our feelings, but we do have a choice in our attitudes. And while we cannot always choose the facts of a situation, we can choose how we reflect on, and respond to, and ultimately – someday and somehow – reach out beyond a situation.
Someday, somehow, I hope that we will look back on this time of change and stress and frustration and fear and not only number the lessons learned, but also count the blessings beheld, even as we mourn the inevitable losses and unsought changes.
My very real hopes for today and for our week(s) ahead:
• That we each and all choose to be well – protecting ourselves by washing our hands before touching our faces and protecting others by washing our hands after touching our faces.
• That we each and all choose to be safe – practicing “social distancing” even as we hold ourselves together and maintain connections and purposefully communicate with and tend to so many people and places in need of social and emotional and financial and physical and medical and moral and spiritual and logistical support.
• That we each and all choose to be informed – checking reliable sources of news and confirming accuracy in facts so that we can remain calm in a chaotic and changing situation.
• That we each and all choose to be considerate – collecting what we need for ourselves and for our families and for our friends while also tending to the needs of our local and global neighbors, especially those in most need of our generosity and support, and our gifts of self and community rooted in hope.
• That we each and all choose to be – hopeful and peaceful, reflecting the goodness and purpose in our world even amid chaos and change, responding to chaos and change with kindness and patience and perseverance and care, and reaching out with a champion spirit that demonstrates the best of humanity – even during the hardest of times.
I believe that we – each of us and all of us – will be forever changed by the current pandemic that is impacting our world. And while change is difficult, change also allows us to grow, as individuals and as communities.
My hope, and my prayer, and my belief, is that we grow – within and with others – exploring and amplifying tips for peace and evolving and advancing tools for technology.
My hope and my prayer and my belief is that we someday, and somehow, move “forthward” as Mattie would say – with purpose and choice, balancing blessings and burdens, privileges and responsibilities, and needs and wants.
My hope, prayer, and belief is that out of chaos and change, we somehow embrace and accept opportunities to refigure and revitalize the infrastructure of society, so that someday, we truly rebuild and rejuvenate the mosaic of humanity.
My hope, prayer, and belief is in humanity – each of us, and all of us.
Jeni Stepanek, PhD