I have never been more focused on the future than when I have needed time to pass.
Ten more minutes until I’m done with this run.
Two more hours and we’ll be out of the car.
Four days and these cold sores will be gone.
Three weeks and this report will be filed.
When fall arrives, the house will have sold.
When spring is here, my heart will be healing.
Next Christmas, I will have found someone to love.
In times of pain, fatigue, anxiety, mourning and longing, a knowingness that time will pass – that circumstances will change – has buoyed me. I’m an optimistic person, though, with plenty of reasons to believe that if life isn’t so great right this second, it will be momentarily.
I have very generous and supportive parents.
I live in a place with plenty of resources and access to them.
I am healthy.
And I have thoughtful, creative and fiercely loyal friends who – for the most part – also have good families, good health, and live in strong communities.
What if I didn’t?
Take away one of those factors – family, community, health, friendship – and what would happen in a time of peril? Take away more than one. Take them all away. Where would I be?
How would I handle divorce?
Losing my job?
Problems with my child?
Something simple like a leaky roof?
A lack of sleep?
I am thinking about people I know, have known, who I love, who have lost their reasons to trust the future.
My grandmother is one.
She lives in a very small town in rural Alabama on a lakeside golf course retreat where the two primary forms of activity and social engagement are no longer available to her. Even if she felt physically capable of golfing or boating (and not since breast cancer almost a decade ago has this been the case), most of her friends and loved ones in the town (including her mother, her husband, and her best friends – a married couple) have died.
But even without the physical or social activity, my grandmother was sustaining herself through intellectual and charitable stimulation by maintaining serious commitments to the Presbyterian church in town. She served on its boards. She sang in its choir. Every Christmas, she spent hundreds of dollars to decorate the altar in dozens of poinsettias, which she donated in her parents’ names.
But her church has been going through a split recently, with my grandmother among those who have felt chased out and disavowed. Why? Because she supported a minister the others thought was too liberal.
It seems to me that in their worried pondering about the nature of God, they may be overlooking the nature of people.
We will all go through difficult times. I know it as certainly as I know there’s another hour, another season, another year of goodness that will follow – IF we have reasons to believe.
We have to be each other’s reasons.