A recent Buzzfeed article got me thinking about how the pandemic has really wrecked our sense of time. I think it’s safe to say most everyone who answered the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” back in 2015 fell far short of their expectations.
As a Type-A personality with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, planning and being in control are two things that are very important to me, for better or for worse. Life had already begun teaching me that those things are unattainable even on a good day…and then Covid-19 drove that message home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
The Future Isn’t A Guarantee
This summer, I was selling my handmade jewelry at a local farmer’s market and started talking to a lady at a booth next to me. She was handing out brochures for her financial planning services. Specifically, she helps people get their affairs in order to prepare for retirement. I’d guess she appeared to be around my mother’s age, so definitely not part of my generation.
When she asked me about my own plans for retirement, I tried to fight back a laugh: freelance writers don’t get retirement! Especially when you’re a freelancer with a few thousand dollars of student loan debt (yes, I know and accept that grad school was a mistake).
Without going into a ton of detail, I explained that retirement wasn’t really a concern at the moment. Not when Josh and I finally got back on our feet again with his new job, allowing us to stop living paycheck by paycheck and start building a savings account again. We had, and still have, more immediate concerns than something that is thirty, forty years down the road.
And among our friends, we’re the lucky ones: many people I know have had to make the agonizing choice between paying a bill or having groceries for the week. We had our families help us when things got really tight, but not everyone has that social support. For this financially screwed-over generation, even the hope of retirement is downright laughable.
I could tell that my abbreviated story baffled the woman quite a bit, and I probably came off as flighty and irresponsible, neglecting to consider my future in that way.
Sanctification In The Unknowing
Forgive me for sounding like a youth pastor who’s trying too hard to be relevant, but…you know who else struggled with not having enough to get by on a daily basis? That’s right, the ancient Israelites (you can stop your eye rolls now)! In all seriousness, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have “our daily bread” and nothing more – only what we need to get by, because of a future that hangs in the balance for oh so many reasons. For all of us, one such reason is Covid: will we be able to have that vacation? Plan that wedding? See the new baby? No one knows anymore. We simply can’t know, and that’s the most frustrating part.
You know how I explained in my last book that God takes crap and makes fertilizer? Here’s what that doesn’t mean: “everything happens for a reason,” or some unhelpful platitude like that. No, it means that God can take our hard, uncertain things and redeem them, either by using them for our sanctification or for creating new, fertile ground for other things to grow.
Right now, my sanctification process looks like a daily surrendering of control. It looks like making plans with the wisdom that nothing is a guarantee. I have no idea if I will have a retirement, or even live long enough to see one. I will be here, until one day I am not. That is the only sure thing I can count on – that, and my eternal destiny.
When Christ returns and makes all things new, nothing else will matter. Nothing else is certain or secure.