I Want to Survive Today
“I don’t know what I want to do today . . . [pause] . . . I want to survive today.”
That was the matter-of-fact statement shared with me recently by a middle schooler. And it is an important reminder that even as we enjoy the transition to summer weather and schedules, we are all at different places in our lives.
Some people are excited by the warmer weather and the return of more traditional activities as vaccine rates have increased. While other people are facing many challenges during this same time. And making things more complicated, some of the challenges people face are related to the pandemic and others are not.
The reality is that all of us face good days and bad days. Yet often we interact with others like our experience is the same as everyone else’s. If I am having a good day, then everyone should be having a good day. If I am having a bad day, then everyone should be having a bad day.
This is not how reality works. Each of us is a unique individual with our own emotions and perspectives on the world. Which means that sometimes (probably even often) when an event is experienced you have a different reaction than I have. This does not mean we did different things or that one of us is right while the other is automatically wrong. Instead, it means that we are each in a different place.
Our family experiences this regularly when we are in the car together and a song comes on the radio. Often someone will be singing along with the music, someone will be trying to figure out what song is playing, and at least one person will be rolling their eyes because it is such an awful song. All from the same song on the radio.
We need to allow space for each other to authentically experience each day in our own way. When we find that we encounter tension between what we are experiencing and what someone else is experiencing, rather than dismissing their experience or deciding that our experience is the right experience, let us listen to each other.
When we allow time to be in conversation and learn what the other person is experiencing, we learn new things about each other. Maybe the reason they are singing along to the song is that it reminds them of a loved one who has passed away or a fun field trip during school. Maybe they are rolling their eyes because of a traumatic event in their life that has become linked to the song. And sometimes it is as simple as they can not believe that Dad is singing along with that “old” music again.
Whether your day is filled with amazing new things or you just want to survive today, may the peace of Christ be with you today and every day.
Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois