Three Things I have learned during Times of Crisis
COVID-19; Worldwide pandemic
If I didn’t know better I would think we were watching a Hollywood blockbuster from the 1970’s sort of like one of the other disaster flicks made then. Any minute now we may see Ernest Borgnine or Charlton Heston run through the door with a solution to all of our problems.
Alas, that is not our current situation and we are not in a controlled environment such as a movie set. This is real life and we either need to pull together or we will all fall apart.
My life of almost 61 years has had many, many high points, but it has also had its share of low points that were mired in crises of varying types. My intent today is to share some perspective that will hopefully aid you as you cope with the current issues surrounding us. In addition, my prayers go out for all of you. I can think of nothing more powerful than prayer at this time.
Here are three crisis times and what I gained from each:
1. Death of my father and my mother at an early age. For those of you who read what I write, it will come as no surprise when I share once again the fact that my dad died when I was 23 and my mom died just 2.5 years later. While this could have been much more tragic had I been a toddler or teen, the fact that I had very little adult contact or discussion with my parents is something I think about more as I have sons in their 30’s who are raising families. My hope as their parent is to guide and suggest and not be directive or overbearing. Occasionally, I say or do something stupid to make us all laugh. Even now in our pandemic days, a little laughter helps lighten the load. One thing that I did learn from the early loss of my parents was to draw closer to my in-laws, Lamon & Sue Lovett. They became two of my best friends and Sue became my go-to spiritual adviser until we lost her almost 12 months ago. Change requires adaptation and losing my parents required me to lean on others who helped in ways I could have never imagined.
2. Thyroid Cancer at age 30. I often tell others that if you ever had to choose a cancer to have, you might consider the type of thyroid cancer I had. Not to diminish the stress this caused, but looking back at this episode I see where things could have been much more difficult, even terminal. Here is the rest of the story. During a routine physical in 1989 my doctor found a nodule on my thyroid. After biopsies they determined the best course of action would be to remove my right thyroid lobe and then do a section to see if it was cancerous. At that time it appeared benign, but one week later they reversed their decision and provided me with a few courses of action. I chose to have outpatient radiation with I-131, but we first wanted to move forward with having our second child rather than doing so after the irradiating. As a result, we were fortunate to conceive Matthew and I then had my radiation treatment. There were multiple things I learned from this crisis. One has to do with the fact that medical opinions often are drawn solely from the expertise of the professional. Surgeons want to cut while radiologists want to irradiate. I think you see the picture. Also, I clearly saw God’s hand in this as we were able to quickly have our second child and not delay my follow up treatment. Options always are available, but God’s plan will always be clear.
3. Financial downturn from 2008-2010. You would have to be pretty young to not have felt the pain we experienced a little over 10 years ago. Some of it reminds me of now, but our family situation was much different. I had entered self-employment in 2006 as our oldest son entered Vanderbilt University. Our second son began classes at Auburn University in 2008, so we had two in college with little financial aid while I was self-employed and my spouse worked part time. In 2009 the bottom fell out of our business and we learned very quickly what was a need and what wants were. We were never more leveraged in our lives than during this time, but God provided once again and we began to pull out of this in 2011 and were completely out of debt by 2012 except for our home mortgage. Many of the lessons I learned then are things I think about every day now. One has to do with the value, the importance of liquidity. We were cash poor in 2009-2010 and it was painful. I have been more focused on keeping cash available and also living efficiently, not cheaply, but not extravagantly, since then. I also again learned the value of prayer, both in good times and bad, and rarely miss a day when I don’t begin with quiet time and prayer. Of all the valuable lessons I have learned, this quiet time and prayer is by far the most important.
All of us love smooth sailing, but sailors are born from high winds and rough seas. The days ahead may be challenging, but don’t be afraid to trust and confide in others and also keep a constant prayer life going. Nothing else makes as much difference as this.