Difficult times can lead to growth

A couple of months ago I wrote a column about how businesses should look for opportunities among the hardships caused by being shut down due to the coronavirus.

I got some good feedback from it. However, I also got more feedback from individual employees about how they are suffering and looking for opportunities because they have to. I get that. I have been there in my life — a number of times.

More than once lately I have heard people say they are more afraid of the loss of their job than they are of the chance of getting infected by the virus. I suppose that depends on a lot of different factors.

I am sympathetic with everyone who has these fears, especially those who are challenged and/or are trying to support a family. I know what that is like. But, I believe, there is God and everything does happen for a reason. I also know that.

In these times many people will have to shift, change and possibly reinvent themselves in completely new ways to meet a new day and survive within it. Just know that this always has been the way of life. You are not alone in your hardship; millions of people have had to survive these kinds of hardships.

Those who have survived terrible protracted losses like the Great Depression and epidemics and war have had to start all over again. Many had to totally and completely walk away from what they did before like many educated Cubans who fled Cuba in the 1960s to come to America to pick fruit, do janitorial work and whatever else they could find to make a buck. Many had to leave family members behind forever. They were not met here in America with open arms, hugs and kisses — for the most part.

They, like millions of Great Depression survivors, had to grab onto God and look ahead. Most survived; some thrived but all were changed in some way. Such is life.

Here and now we have a culture that is trying to help by doling out money to help everyone along. That is a relatively new thing. But the real benefit of it is that it might give many a bit of time to try to figure out how to forge ahead to a better life.

Maybe getting your old job back could do no more than to hold you in a place where you were not using your talents. Maybe by taking this time to think things through you could rise to heights by taking some risk, working harder to improve yourself and better your life. Maybe you can insist on trying to do something more akin to what you really love.

It might mean going further in school; usually it does. Just remember that going for bettering yourself is never going to be easy; everything carries a price, but honestly consider the alternatives.

Going into a business for yourself also is an option for some. I did that and it has made all the difference. It isn’t for everyone but I know there are unemployed folks out there who could successfully use their talents within their business initiative. Half the businesses in America are small businesses — started and developed by individuals who believed they could to it, then learned from their mistakes to gain and grow. Maybe you could, too.

Most people reading this will likely simply be able to return to work — somewhere — and happily (gratefully) go on their way. I believe our economy will eventually come around. I also believe it will take a year or two to settle in to the new normal.

Beyond our financial concerns, we should carefully watch and study the larger political consequences of what has happened. We have time now to tune in and drop in.

We must be wiser than ever about our individual and collective realities. This is not a time for fear; rather, for courage, clear thinking, community, Christ and commitment.