Written by Craig Tubiolo-Syracusa.
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shelter-in-place-COVID19The new normal is approaching and I can no longer hide from it or “shelter in place.” The world has changed. I need to adjust to the future.

I’m not referring to stocking up on toilet paper or raising chickens. Yes, I thought about both, but my perspective and belief system was based on a pre-pandemic mindset and we are now living in a post-pandemic world. Let’s call it the good old days. I always wanted to say that! But were the old days really good or were we just comfortable and used to living one day after another?

Most of us are so distracted by being busy or operating in a state of busyness that we forgot to stop and smell the roses. No matter how many times we would read those catchy wooden signs over the fireplace, the words never sunk in.

Then time stopped and it was like we were all living in the film “Ground Hog Day,” except it wasn’t a cute little town.  It was four walls and no comfort food from the town diner.  Suddenly our lives were filled with time. They say time is the most valuable commodity, but they also say you can’t buy time. We’ve all heard stories of elderly people living in regret because they squandered time. But, like any kid, we need to find out for ourselves.  We need to touch the flame on the stove to see how hot it really is.

Like most people, I was overwhelmed and over-extended between work, obligations and responsibilities. Somehow, I survived. I thought I was sacrificing because I was working and supporting my family like a man should do. I told myself that my son would thank me when he gets older and my wife needs to understand that I’m doing this for our family. I often told myself that while watching my son cry as I left for another business trip or work function. I often told myself that while saying “Good Night” over the phone or missing another family function.

It’s easy to justify your actions when you’ve convinced yourself of the sacrifice. The word gets used so often. We should look into it a little before using it. Was I really sacrificing or was my family when my son didn’t have his daddy there to put him to bed or read him a story or hold his hand when he was afraid? Is it sacrificing when you’re at a work function having a glass of wine socializing while your wife explains to your kids that daddy is working late?

We need to be honest about who is really making the sacrifice. Is it us or is it our loved ones who are sacrificing the bond and relationship of having a dad and a husband.

It took a Pandemic for me to realize that what I disguised as a sacrifice was really me chasing my dreams and desires. It was no longer a sacrifice.  It was selfish.   This pandemic exposed a lot of things to a lot of people – from our own sin and mortality to how we spend our time and what we idolized, to our relationship with friends and family, lack of control, empathy, our foundation of faith, and how selfish or loving we can be.

Some of us experienced all of those in the first week. God blessed me and exposed some of my sin immediately.  I spent several weeks reflecting and praying for God’s Grace and guidance. I guess it helped that I had the opportunity to interview dozens of people who were also affected by the Pandemic.  They helped shape my position.

I often asked the question of what happens when life gets back to normal. Will you still have this new sense of clarity or wisdom and appreciation for life?  Or will you go back to your old habits and put God back in the box until you need Him again to through another tough time?

I would often say God is not a friend whom you call to help you move a couch.  He wants to build a relationship with you. I tried my best to remind people every day that we need to build a relationship with Christ. We need to discover what God is calling us to do before life gets back to normal.  We cannot morph back into our old habits because they were comfortable and familiar.  I pray that we don’t stop growing and don’t stop developing when we are comfortable or complacent.

I personally have changed a lot due to this pandemic.  It has opened my eyes, sort of like an awakening. I have realized what is truly important and that building a relationship with God is my number one priority because, without that, every area in my life will be incomplete. I can’t have a good marriage or be a good father or be filled with joy, if I don’t have a relationship with Christ. I need to show my heavenly father that I love Him and that I want Him in my life daily not just when tragedy strikes or on Sundays.  I need him every day.  Through that relationship and through His Word, I can start to handle and understand life much better. I always thought I had a relationship.  But you can make all your sacraments and attend church every Sunday and still not know who Jesus is.

This time for me has brought me closer to my faith, closer to an understanding that God loves me, no matter what I’ve done in the past and no matter what I do in the future. That love and His mercy is something that we all need to experience. I hope that this pandemic has revealed that to you, as it has done for me.

We all are on a journey.  Some of us are further along than others.  Some of us are just getting started. I urge you to ask yourself a few questions:

–       When I grow old, will I live with regret?

–       Have I discovered my true purpose?

–       Is my sacrifice worth my family?

–       Am I happy?

–       Do I really know who Jesus is?

If most of your answers are “No,” it’s time to reevaluate your life, your priorities, your choices and your relationship with your family and your God.

I thank God for revealing this to me while I still have time to change.  Every crisis provides an opportunity.  It could be an opportunity for wealth.  It could be an opportunity for growth or an opportunity for change.

Don’t let the opportunity go to waste.

 

Craig Tubiolo-Syracusa
Walk in Faith/Gods Plan Productions
Godplanproductions.com