For most of us, this year was going as we planned it. Our jobs were secure, our finances were strong, and we were doing what we always do. Then, in one moment, it all changed. Here, Jason Webb, a pastor, entrepreneur and public speaker from Milwaukee, discusses the current crisis and what to do to make the best out of the situation we are in.
Recently, life flipped upside down. A pandemic forced us inside, into a moment we never thought we would face.
At first, we wanted it to end quickly. “When will we be able to get back to normal?” each of us said in some way or another. But as the days have stretched into weeks and the weeks have stretched into months, we are now forced into a reality many of us don’t know what to do with, how to respond, how to wait.
It’s in this moment that the words of a mentor of mine ring loudly in my ears.
I was facing a particularly challenging crisis in my work and I told him, “I just want to get through this.” He turned to me and said, “Jason, don’t just wish to get through it. Seek out what this moment is teaching you. Stay in it, don’t rush through it. The worst thing you could do is get through it but not learn from it.”
And then he said words I’ll never forget: “Never waste a crisis.”
As we face a crisis of global proportions, we cannot afford to waste this crisis. We cannot afford to waste it as a nation, learning from what it has to teach us regarding our health care systems and how we care for each other, especially the most vulnerable. We cannot afford to waste this as communities, learning how our connection to and dependence on each other is so much more vital than we ever imagined.
And we cannot waste this crisis as individuals.
So instead of looking for ways on how to cope with isolation, we should address several questions that this crisis forces us to ask.
- What have I learned about myself during this time?
- What has this crisis taught me about what I value most?
- If I am a person of faith, how has this crisis changed or solidified my dependence on God?
- How has this crisis shown me how I spend my time? What needs to change?
- In the midst of this health crisis, how do I care for myself physically? What needs to change in my diet, my workout regiment (or lack thereof), and my general self-care?
- What emotions have I experienced during this time? What are they trying to tell me? How am I addressing them?
- What new rhythms have I developed during this crisis that I want to continue after them? What old rhythms do I want to let go of?
- What has this taught me about my need for connection with other people?
- How have I been able to connect better with people in my life since the crisis?
- What issues has this raised about troubles in my relationships?
- What has living closely and constantly with other family members taught me?
- What relationships have I desperately missed during the quarantine?
- How has this made me examine the time I give to relationships? What needs to change?
- What have I learned about relationships that need to end?
- How has this crisis made me view my career differently?
- If I run an organization, what changes have I implemented that should be kept in place once this crisis is over?
- If I have lost my job during this crisis, what do I want to pursue now for a career?
- What has this crisis taught me about how many hours I spend working?
- What rhythms need to change in my work life in order for me to pay attention to the things I have learned matter most?
- How has this crisis changed my view as to what I need financially to survive? How might that change how I approach my career?
- Is there an old dream that I had put on the backburner that this crisis has allowed me to pursue again? Is there a new dream that I now have?
As we answer these questions and more like them, we allow this crisis to teach us things we could not have learned otherwise.
I hope this crisis ends soon. I hope nobody else has to suffer. I hope we can go out in public and resume normal social interaction.
But I also hope we just don’t go back to normal. If we did, this all would have been a waste.