Starting in my late 30’s I began the practice of theming my years. This year has been one of great significance as it represents a milestone. I turned 50 in January! It truly is a new decade for me. In addition, anyone that knows me well knows that fashion wise, I adore the style and glamour of the 1920’s. I absolutely love a classy beaded black flapper dress and the sophistication and timelessness of a pearl necklace...the more the better!
I would say to myself, “I am going to honor God and live at a standard deserving to be called 'The Roaring 20’s'." Also known as The Jazz Age (I love jazz), this time was characterized by new freedoms in cultural, economic, and social aspects of life. The 1920’s gave birth to the flowering of a new identity, independence, racial pride, and culture in African-American people known as the Harlem Renaissance!
The 1920’s was not all glitz glamour, dancing, and living freely. The 1920’s saw a re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan, with membership peaking at over 4 million people during this time. Despite the growing prosperity, more than 60 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line. Another stunning parallel regarding the 1920’ s is the first outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic. Here we are 2020, 100 years later with the re-emergence of white supremacist organizations and at the start of another pandemic.
I had determined that in my 50’s I was going to live unapologetically as long as my living is aligned with my values as a follower of Christ. I am not going to live in fear, but live fearlessly. I have to be honest...I do not yet fully know what that means, but what I do know is that God did not give me the spirit of fear "...but of power, and of love, of a sound mind.”
There is good and bad in most things. Through what lens are we viewing our current situation?
“My people perish for lack of vision.” - Proverbs 29:18
It is well known that 20/20 is considered perfect vision. I began my new year praying for perfect vision. I struggled a few months about turning 50 and feeling like I have not accomplished much. We live in a culture that values “doing”. This mindset has caused a great amount of stress for me, “I don’t teach at a local university. I don’t have a group practice. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t DO enough.” The state of doing is reassuring and validating as the more we do the more we have. Doing keeps us occupied. It is quantifiable. It is self-gratifying as we see the results of our “doing”. The world values doing!
What about being? Being is viewed as passive. Some may even see it as lazy and unproductive! Being demands that we exist in the present moment. The only evidence for engaging in “being” is a sense of peace and contentment. Being is fueled by our spirit; it is a direct and intimate experience with the present. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines being as:
The quality or state of having existence
The totality of existing things
Conscious existence: life
The qualities that constitute an existent thing : ESSENCE
We as a society, evidence a lack in “being”. I feel that we have lost view of who we are. Not knowing who one is can cause a great deal of anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression among other stress inducing aliments. Mental health therapists, psychiatrists, and clinics around the country have caseloads of clients struggling with “being”. I feel that we have lost view of who we are. This not knowing skews our vision of ourselves and the world.
What do you see? This time in our lived history is an opportunity to refocus our vision. What has your focus been on? If in the presence of the current global situation you have found that most of what we have been focused on is trivial, inane, and useless, what changes are you willing to make to refocus? This pandemic gives us a unique opportunity to “be” to adjust our vision as we sharpen our conscious existence to “do” better.
We are quick to move to “do”. Some without a plan. As said in our header, we perish for lack of vision (a plan, knowledge). Engage any media platform long enough and you will find plenty of evidence of people and governments moving without a vision. Lack of vision creates chaos and can cause harm. What harm have you caused yourself, and others, moving without a vision or the proper knowledge?
Reevaluate, Reflect, Revise, and Redirect
What are you looking at? If we want this time to be purposeful and productive, we have to take a collective and individual inventory of our lives. Stop complaining about where we are; it is what it is and it does not look like it will change any time soon. Recognize the blessing in spite of the hardship. Reflect on your thoughts and behaviors. Are they aligned with your beliefs and values? Clarify your standards. Are you living a life in accordance with them? What changes need to take place? Once all this is addressed, prayed over, and meditated upon, make a plan and then “do”.
My 2020 is about perfect vision. Being still until God’s will is clear to me. I am using this time to reevaluate, reflect, revise, and redirect my focus. I want to work on “being” so that I am purposeful and effective at what I am “doing”. The current circumstances have given us all pause. How will you utilize this pause to seek perfect vision?
African proverb, “When you pray move your feet.”