One of the lessons my father taught me is the value of seeing setbacks as opportunities. This is not a “pie in the sky” philosophy he read in a book, but one that has developed out of the difficulties of his own life.
His father (my grandfather) was the town drunk. His older sister took her own life. And my dad was sexually abused until he was strong enough to defend himself as a thirteen-year-old. He has every reason not to be positive about life.
And yet because of his Christian faith he chooses to care deeply about people, have a good sense of humor, enjoy life, work hard at his ministry, and see setbacks as opportunities. He has built this into my life, and so when the quarantine hit, I can’t help but aim to approach it this way too.
A few years ago, he even got a speeding ticket and had to go to traffic school for a full Saturday. I will never forget him telling my wife and I that it was going to be a great day because he was going to learn a ton about becoming a better driver. Seriously. To my dad, the glass is 99% full.
This is not to say the quarantine isn’t difficult for me and my family. Of course, it is. I have had (at least) two months of speaking engagements cancelled, which is a significant part of my livelihood. I miss not being face-to-face with my students. And I certainly mourn for the people who have suffered far more than me.
I simply want to encourage you to try and see the silver lining in this tragedy. There are opportunities if you will look around for ways to love and serve others in need.
Opportunities all around
As a professor at Biola, this forces me to learn some new tools for digital education. This takes time, and is a hassle, but will only make me a better teacher.
As a speaker, my calendar is now clear the next few months, which enables me to think about creative ways to communicate. As a result, I started a TikTok account that has totally gone viral (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but check it out anyways). I have wanted to do this for a while, and the quarantine gave me that extra “push.”
As a parent, I now have more time with my kids. I love being with them, and always try to minimize time on the road so I can maximize time with them at home. But I have never had two months off in spring to work from home and spend such focused time with them. Silver lining? Absolutely.
As a neighbor, my son and I reached out to a single woman on our street to see if she needed help. The quarantine gave us a unique opportunity to love her in a time of considerable need and she was deeply grateful for it.
Seize the opportunity
I don’t know what this looks like for you. Yet, my hope is simply that you can see the current predicament as an opportunity to grow, learn, and better love those around you.
Don’t miss this opportunity.
We may not be able to control our situation, but we can control our response.