‘Let it go!’ – of course, it’s the Frozen movie anthem, but it’s also a great line from the iconic the Vogel’s bread advert ‘New Zealanders overseas’: ‘It was a year ago, okay Michael? Let it go!’
Let it go. A good statement to think about in a Covid-19 world.
As I write, we’re in Level 3 Lockdown in New Zealand. Not much different from Level 4, maybe one more person in our Covid-19 ‘bubbles’, but we’re still keeping our distance from most.
As we eventually reach Level 1 and come out the other side of this pandemic into a ‘new normal’, what should we keep and what should we let go? What is treasure and what is just junk?
The Problem of Pain
In his book ‘The Problem of Pain’, C.S. Lewis offers some thoughts that are especially relevant to our world today. He reflected on such things as suffering in wartime, but also from illness and bereavement.
From painful disruption to our regular lives, Lewis argued we can awaken to what matters most – including our need for God.
‘My own experience is something like this,’ he wrote. ‘I am progressing along the path of life … absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends … or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.
‘At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.’
Amongst all the difficult challenges of living in Covid-19 lockdown, we have become more aware of who and what really counts in life. Many of us have also become more acutely aware of God’s nearness.
Perhaps we almost wish we could remain in this time of true perspective. Not the pain and anxiety of it, but in our heightened sensitivity to what is true treasure, and what is just toys.
What to lose and what to retain?
As many have pointed out, we now have the opportunity, as citizens of this planet, to move on from our destructive ways of existing, to create something more equitable and sustainable for us and our planet.
Individually, we can redeem a dark time of death and trauma, loss and fear by saying ‘let it go’ to some of those old toys that used to preoccupy and distract us. Or to at least restrict them to their rightful place.
Some of the things we have hopefully put down, we should not pick up again. They have not been good for us. Bad habits, negative attitudes, selfish ways of spending our time, resentments, jealousies and petty grievances … let them go!
Covid-19 will have forced you to release some things you were holding tightly and perhaps could not imagine doing without. Ask God to help you decide which of these things you really need to pick up again.
At the same time, you’ve probably adopted a few practices you’ll be wise to retain. Perhaps new habits of exercise, a fresh appreciation of loved ones, balance where work once dominated, a renewed relationship with God. Don’t let these things slip away; make them part of your ‘new normal.’
Even as we gradually return to a life with more freedom and some of our old securities, let’s not lose sight of the good lessons learnt from this bad time.
Christina Tyson has been a Salvation Army officer (minister) for almost 30 years.For 16 years she was involved in Salvation Army communications, and now works with her husband as pastors of a Salvation Army church and community centre in Newtown, Wellington.