They were the worst of times. Someday I hope I say they were also the best of times. As March spilled into April, and April into May I felt a sinking loss. It was different from the losses that had toppled through the shockwave of a global pandemic jumping our borders. Something very familiar was slipping through the cracks in my heart. 


I thought I had it before COVID. But let’s be clear; this pandemic didn’t steal our control; it revealed how little we actually had. Our carefully crafted western illusion of control dropped to zero when we asked our neighbors for toilet paper, struggled to tutor our kids, just wanted to enjoy a burrito at our favorite restaurant and had to see if a friend was okay being with us. 
The words from the book of James in The Message nailed me; Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” Nailed it. We’ve been squeezed. This insulation is gone. Our faith, or lack thereof, was forced into the open. I’ve had moments this year that were not pretty. You with me?
Maybe we should start by just acknowledging we’ve been squeezed. We’ve survived. COVID has been a humbling, refining, reevaluating season. Those are all hard in the short game, but needed in the long game. 
And can we also step back for a moment and realize the gift we’ve been given? If you came to the end of yourself, grew, changed, morphed in any way I hope you’ll learn to receive it as a gift like I have. I have some grounding and humility I didn’t have when 2020 arrived. 
Can I invite you to do one more thing? Can we just tell the truth about how we’re doing? Actually doing. People want to hear the truth because they want to feel safe to tell the truth. People aren’t looking for happy leaders right now; they’re looking for whole leaders. Ones who can cry and laugh and grieve and tell others they’re not okay. This makes them feel safe, and we desperately need to extend safety to those around us. 
Somehow, this awful loss of control has been a sweet gift.