Release, Recover, Revise. But no Reset

Pay attention to your grieving.

As we move together through the Covid-19 pandemic, I have pondered
LOSS, GRIEF, and HOPE. Many — understandably — are saying, “I wish we could turn the clock back three weeks. I hope we will soon get back to the way we were.” But based on my experience, I would say: “Attend to your grieving process — it will be healthy if you lament your losses.

As a retired minister, like older Levites,
(Numbers 8:24) I try to support young leaders. Now as a “sequestered septuagenarian,” I want to pass along wisdom from ministry after a natural disaster. The Coronavirus pandemic differs from my 1992 hurricane experience, but there are lessons.

A hurricane is not a global pandemic but a regional disaster. “Category 5” winds can
compress people into closer community. But the “vector” of Covid-19 infection does the opposite. To care for our neighbors, we must keep “social distance.” What will be the longterm impact on society, groups, churches, or communities? We don't yet know.

But
I did receive wisdom that is transferable — first taught to me by disaster veterans, then personally confirmed in a long recovery process. Wisdom first taught — then caught.

I'm grateful for those who counseled Florida ministers based on their own hurricane experiences. They forewarned us that pre-disaster
fractures in marriages, churches, businesses, or organizations might become destructive fissures. But others would grow and become stronger, humbled and tempered by recovery.

And we were told what to expect. We would personally experience, and would need to walk with others through the “stages of grief.” Though we said, “I survived” and “I will rebuild,” we all had to go through grieving our painful losses — in a process of fits and starts. Then our hope could be restored.

So
pay attention to your grieving process. The stages are not always sequential or linear, but they are unavoidable. A friend shared an excellent article: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief. We may experience denial (I will survive), anger (who can I blame? My leaders? God?), depression (how do I move on?), bargaining (what does this mean?) and acceptance (I will never 'get over' this, but what new doors may open to me?). Remember Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who mourn.”

On the far side of grief is RECOVERY, RENEWAL, and RE-VISION. But
not a RE-SET! Things will not go back to the way things were — personally, economically, or socially. One day, we and our children will retell our stories — “before” and “after” the coronavirus. But our perceived reality, our “gestalt,” will have totally changed. But God is at work and will be present in our new beginnings!

My son shared our family’s “hurricane disaster story” with a colleague who just lost a job; how we now remember many good things that came out of our real losses. Similarly, an educator friend has told a school about growing out of that “disaster experience.”

I recommend a recent
Virtual Veritas Forum on YouTube. Andy Crouch notes, “lament is the seed of creativity,” and “lament holds together grief and hope.” New York Times columnist David Brooks observes, “suffering only hurts you if you can’t attach it to a narrative of redemption.” God’s people can learn to be a “creative minority.” (view especially between the 00:50 — 1:10 min. mark).

As we move forward, and we
limp into the future, let us grieve well. We must first release our losses. Ahead of us, in the weeks and months ahead, is recovery, renewal, and re-vision. But not a reset.