Katie Ribbens — Staff Writer
Life is good. We’ve all heard the brand name. Some of us may be sipping from one of their coffee mugs or sporting their cheeky shirts right at this very moment. But do we believe it? The phrase is something we can get behind…most days. I recently came across one of their newer shirts that made me come up short. It read, “Life is not easy. Life is not perfect. Life is good.” As Christians, I feel like this is something we should broadcast more frequently.
Now, I’ll admit I’m an optimist. But I think that regardless of our optimistic or pessimistic tendencies, we should always view our days as good, because they’ve been lovingly handed out by a good, sovereign God. I can’t help but wonder, especially in these present times, if we confuse “life is good” with “life is controlled.” It’s so easy to kid ourselves into thinking we’re in control of our own spheres of life. After all, don’t we make our schedules for the day? We decide when we eat, when we take the dog for a walk, and how long we procrastinate on our homework.
And then BAM all of a sudden, the rug has been swept out from under us. Restrictions are put in place: we can’t leave our house, we can’t see our friends, and we can’t travel. Borders are closing between countries, vacations re-planned, even weddings postponed. Our carefully scheduled lives are now thrown into chaos and uncertainty. It’s easy to complain and gripe. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stew in the anger and anxiety that’s been brought on in our current situation.
But how many hidden blessings have we seen come from this? All of the freedoms I’ve taken for granted now seem precious. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I can personally affirm that. Complaints about the Midwest weather and terribly long lab days are rendered moot as I was suddenly kicked off of campus. I would gladly take it all back, dissections and all. Yet…I am equally thankful to be spending this time at home with my family. My siblings are back home together, my parents are working from home, and I’ve never seen my dog so happy. She hasn’t been put in her crate for seven weeks. She gets walked every day. We get to have family dinners, family games, and family movie marathons. I’ve seen my community come together in the best way we can while following social distancing rules. We’ve found little ways to cheer one another. Gathering together in parking lots for a socially-distanced chat, giving up toilet paper, shopping for each other…these little things can mean the world to someone.
People have completed projects that have been abandoned for years. The neighborhood trails in the foothills have never been fuller as people embrace the wondrous spring weather and exercise. In order to meet up with friends, we drove to the empty apocalypse-style mall parking lot and sat on our cars, six feet apart. Think of the stories we can tell one day! Yeah. I sat on my car in an empty parking lot. For fun. I’ll never again complain of boredom.
I don’t want to appear callous to the legitimate stress and sorrow of what’s going on in the world right now. I’m scared for those I care about that fall into the vulnerable population. I have plenty of family working in the medical field that are on the front lines. I miss the people at Dordt that I never got to say good-bye to when I left for spring break and never came back. I feel the economic stress as companies are laying off and not bringing on students for the summers. But I am thankful. I am thankful that I have a loving shepherd walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death. Even now I get to sit in my backyard and watch the sun set over the mountains. I can hear the quail coo, the hawks call, and the owls hoot. I get to teach my autistic student tomorrow with my horse. I get to breathe in the fresh air while I hike, walk, rollerblade, and ride. I get to sit in my quiet house on late nights after my parents have gone to bed, listening to music, sipping coffee, and working on a new art piece. These quiet moments, once scarce, are in abundant supply, but still precious. In different circumstances, it would be paradise. But it is life. And life is good.