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107 Forever Changed

April 12, 2020

People can’t wait to go back to where we were before the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is, we can’t, and we shouldn’t. In this episode of By Your Life, we’ll talk about how instead of trying to hold onto what was, we should be forever changed for the better.

Easter Sunday – April 12, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and seventh episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know in times like these our routines have been thrown out the window. Everything we do is by choice, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. (Cycle A) It is kind of hard for me to believe that two years ago, on Easter Sunday, I released the first episode of By Your Life. I’ve learned a lot since that first episode. I’ve learned a lot about podcasting, a lot about Scripture, and about living our faith in the marketplace. I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about others, and a lot about life in general. I’d never want to go back to where I was two years ago.

Longing to get back to normal

Even as I write these words, however, I find myself wanting to go back to where I was two months ago. I miss getting up early and walking before dawn. I miss going to daily Mass and receiving Jesus sacramentally. I miss meeting with clients and socializing with friends. I miss just being able to go to the store without wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a scarf around my face.

And I’m not alone. These days we hear a lot of people asking when things will get back to normal. They can’t wait to go back to where we were before the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is, we can’t, and we shouldn’t. There is no going back to where we were before the #coronavirus #pandemic. So, we have a choice. As C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

Overcoming Obstacles

I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to hold on to being an ordinary, decent egg. And, I’ve allowed the changes that have been imposed because of the pandemic be an obstacle to moving forward, or worse, I’ve allowed them to be an excuse. What’s the difference? An obstacle is something that gets in your way. An excuse is an obstacle that you don’t try to find a solution for. There is always more than one solution to every obstacle, so if you can’t find one, you’re choosing to allow the obstacle to become an excuse for your inaction or your failure. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Then, on Good Friday, I received two messages that knocked me out of my backward-longing and got me to start thinking differently. I’ve always said that if it is important, God tells me twice. Well, on that morning, he told me twice, first through my daughter and then through a colleague.

If it is important, God tells me twice!Click to Tweet

My daughter sent me a picture of the “garden” they set up in their house to spiritually accompany Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. In the center of her garden was a computer with virtual Eucharistic Adoration. While I had been longing for the beautiful Last Supper of the Lord we normally celebrate on Holy Thursday and lamenting not being able to process to the “garden” for Eucharistic adoration, my daughter and her housemates created a beautiful environment to stay with him and pray a while. While I was trying to hold onto the old way, they created a new way.

The second message I got was from a colleague who shared inspiration from Simon Sinek titled, “These are not unprecedented times.” The YouTube video is recording of one of Sinek’s company “Huddles” and it provides an optimistic view of the situation we are all in. I watched it and was again convicted by my current attitude toward this virus and my longing to get back to the way things used to be.

These are not unprecedented times

In the six-minute video, Simon Sinek reminds his team that these are not unprecedented times for businesses. There have been many times when change or something unexpected has put many companies out of business and has made others come out stronger and reinvent themselves. The internet put many companies out of business when they could not reinvent themselves but instead doubled down on the old way they did business. Every video rental store is out of business because they didn’t reinvent themselves with the advent of streaming. Ride sharing companies are putting taxis out of business, because taxi companies refuse to change. Sinek acknowledged that while our current situation has been more sudden and more shocking, it is not unprecedented in business.

So where is the optimism in his message? He said there will be companies who come through this stronger because instead of being in survival mode, they are in reinvention mode. The mindset is the difference. Instead of asking “How are we going to get through this?, they ask, “How are we going to change to get through this?” “What will we be?”, not “How do we preserve what we had?”

Adopting a new mindset

Both these messages convicted me.  I realized that I am one who is trying to get through this and preserve what I had. Since that isn’t going to happen, I need to adopt a new mindset.

Adopting a new mindset was the message St. Paul had for the Colossians in our second reading this Easter Sunday. He encouraged them to adopt the new mindset that comes with being raised with Christ. He said, “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” (Col 3:2) In other words, stop going back to who you were, concerned about the same things you were concerned about before you knew Christ as the source of your salvation. Instead, look forward, look above.

In John 20:17, we read about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and when she recognized him, she embraced his feet (Mt 28:9), but “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.’” (Jn 20:17) The disciples didn’t understand “that he had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9), and he did not rise from the dead to go on living as before, only to die again like Lazarus. Christ overcame death, and “is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1) and he is inviting us to follow him.

Throughout the 40 days of Lent, we have been preparing ourselves to follow him. We have engaged in prayer, fasting, and helping others. The pandemic has only accentuated this. We’ve turned to the Father in prayer more than ever. We’ve been forced to fast from the things we worship on earth – sports, entertainment, work, money – and people have been reaching out to help each other by offering encouragement, making masks, donating food, even giving away toilet paper.

And now, Easter is here. The tomb is empty, and we have been raised with Christ. We should not go back to living as we were. After this pandemic has waned, we shouldn’t go back to business-as-usual either. We may not understand how we’re going to come out of this, but we will come out of this, and we should be forever changed.

Simon Sinek wrote a book called “The Infinite Game” in which he describes the difference between leaders who embrace an infinite mindset from those who don’t. They build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. The people in these companies trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future because they don’t worry about what they do, they worry about why they do it. The “what” and “how” will always be changing. They focus on “the why” and reinvent how.

In a similar way, Jesus calls us to adopt an eternal mindset. There is no sense in trying to hold on to what was. All these things will pass and in the scheme of eternity, what’s important? When you adopt an eternal mindset, you will find that you can better deal with your earthly problems. You’ll find that you are less stressed, less anxious, and able to think more clearly. An eternal perspective helps you prioritize what is important and let go of the small stuff. In short, it is a better way to live. More importantly, when you seek what is above always, “when Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) And that’s a forever that’s worth changing for.

Let’s pray for God to help us.

Lord, help us to realize afresh today what your death and resurrection mean for us. Forgiveness, freedom, and the ability to walk with you through this fallen world into eternity. May we always find our satisfaction in you and your willingness to offer yourself to us. In turn, may we live our lives as witnesses to your glory. We ask this through Christ our Risen Lord, Amen.

May God bless you abundantly this Easter season and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

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