Progress is a trade

It’s easy to imagine that over there, just a few steps ahead, our problems will disappear.

Pessimists, of course, are sure that instead of disappearing, tomorrow will make things worse.

The truth is pretty simple: All we do, all we ever do, is trade one set of problems for another.

Problems are a feature. They’re the opportunity to see how we can productively move forward. Not to a world with no problems at all, but to a situation with different problems, ones that are worth dancing with.[Seth Godin, July 28, 2021]

In my sermons this past four months I’ve noted that some of us are thinking about “getting back to normal” or “back to before.”  Maybe “before” wasn’t nearly as good as we think it was or as meaningful as “right now” is or tomorrow might be.  I don’t consider myself an optimist. Some might call me a pessimist.  I think I’m a realists, but let’s quibble over labels another day.

Covid-19 forced most of us into situations we never wanted to be in, and decisions we never wanted to make.  It presented us (me) with opportunities to reflect on how I am living.  Where did I spend my time and to what or whom did I give my attention.  Was that good for me? Was that good for my family, friends, and my following Jesus?

The coronavirus did the same thing to the institutions, myths, and stories we rely upon, support, and participate in that act as a compass for our lives.  It continues to do so. It’s the hardest thing: to decide what problems are opportunities worthy of attention and which ones just distract and nag, willingly or not, from meaningful living and helping our neighbors.

One thing that Covid-19 has made clearer for me is that being super busy doesn’t mean one is successful. It may mean we are over functioning or are workaholics or are fearful of idle time.  It may mean that one doesn’t have the clarity to say “no” to the less important or the filters to sift important from unimportant in the short term and long term. And, it could be that one has focused on the very important for their lives and kicked into hyperdrive.

I don’t know if church, youth group, Christianity, or following Jesus, any or all, are important for you.  They may be problems worth dancing with.

May God’s shalom find you and may you live in God’s shalom.