Yesterday, I said that just because something is declared non-essential right now, that doesn't mean we don't need it. Even if we don't need it to live, we might need it to thrive. And the truth is that many of us are finding out right now exactly what is essential for us.
And it's not the things you would have thought.
We're finding out that the things we thought we needed were not what we actually needed at all. We thought we needed more time, if there were just a few more hours in the day. Well, now, we have all the time in the world. And you know what? It's not all that we thought it would be. Actually, it's a little too much. Most of us are stuck now trying to find ways to kill time, to get it to pass quickly and without much notice because there just seems to be so much of it. We're finding that what we were missing all along, what's actually essential for us, is the fullness of our time. Perhaps, then, when we get it back, we will find ourselves wasting less of it. That's what is actually essential for us.
We thought we needed more money, if we just had a couple more dollars in the bank. If only we could afford a little more of this or that, that little thing that makes life special for us. Well, now, we have a little less money (sometimes, a lot less money). And you know what? It was never going to be that extra little consumer good that made life special. We're finding that our lives are pretty special just the way that we're living them - together. With friends and family and neighbors and community and the little simple treasures that we already have around us. We're discovering that it was never name-brand macaroni and cheese that made our dinner table special; it was the persons we shared it with. We're discovering that it's okay to drive an older car for a few more years, as long as it gets us from point A to point B because nobody's actually looking the way that we always feared they were. Perhaps when we get our money back, we'll remember that it never had anything to do with the richness of our lives. That's essential, too.
We thought that we needed our kids to be more self-sufficient, that we needed them to be out of our hair more. We sent them to school and to after-school programs and to daycare and to summer camp and all of this to make sure that they had something to do besides bother us while we did our important, adult things. Well, now, we're all stuck at home with our kids. And you know what? We're finding out just how much they enrich our lives. We're finding out what wonderful little persons they are, how fascinating and amazing they are. We're loving the chance to love on them again. We're finding out that they were never an inconvenience to our lives; they are a wellspring of it that we were missing out on. Perhaps when we have all of our important, adult things to do again, we'll remember the simple joys of children, of our children. It's essential.
We're finding something essential in all the simple joys, in all the little things that we take for granted in the shadows of our big, important lives. Music, art, nature, connection. Shaking hands with someone. Going for that hug. Snuggling up on the couch together. Petting the dog. Throwing a ball or a frisbee. Jumping rope. Being content with what we have. Defining our lives by something that doesn't fit on a spreadsheet.
That's not to diminish at all, not in the very least, the reality that these are difficult times for many. That we're struggling in ways that we've never had to struggle before, or perhaps in ways we thought we'd finally put behind us. That we have real concerns over our ability to provide for ourselves and our families, to weather this storm, to make it through this crisis. That mental health issues are skyrocketing for many of us. That we're facing dragons we never knew existed. That some of this is just. plain. hard. I don't want to diminish that at all.
But even in our brokenness and our struggling, we are coming face-to-face with our own needs. Even in the hard places, we're finding out what is essential for us. And in most cases, it's less than we ever though it would be and more than we ever knew we had to begin with. In our poverty, we're finding the richness of life all over again in a bunch of places we never thought to look. We're learning what's essential.
And it's a lot of things we never thought about before.