“E cubed is greater than F cubed” is the equation I am using to navigate through the current COVID-19 crisis. You may not be a person who gets highly excited about mathematical equations, but this is one I believe is worth considering. If fact, I think it might help you.
Here is how it goes. It starts with EVALUATE … this is a great time for us to be evaluating ourselves – our lifestyles, attitudes, actions and interactions. Then comes EDUCATE … first continually educating myself, both in areas where I am deficient and, also, in my strength areas – and then educating others, sharing with them what I have learned about myself. The third E is for ENJOY … there is no reason to feel we must abstain from finding joy – ever (i.e. as sad as I am to hear of Al Kaline’s death, I have truly enjoyed reading all the articles about him and his life).
This E3 has been very successful in minimizing the F3 I find all around (and within, as well): FEAR, FRUSTRATION, FOOLISHNESS.
During my morning prayers each day I pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51.10-11) This prayer flows from an honest evaluation that produces the brutal truth of how inadequate I am at living in, and reflecting, the love of God in Christ. The other day I was led back to some educating words of Jesus. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15.5) I will tell you more of what I have learned about myself later. And who can ever forget those Spirit-inspired words of Saint Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; again, I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4.4)
These three are a powerful combination in the fight again the fear, frustration and foolishness we see in our world and (if we are honest in our evaluations), in ourselves.
Fear happens to be the least of my problems these days. I am confident that God is accomplishing a great good through this time. However, one thing that I have noticed about myself, is that my lack of fear under these circumstances easily leads to foolish behavior on my part! And my foolish behavior (like my reluctance to wear a face mask, as just one example) both increases risk around me and educates people with the wrong message.
Initially the illustration of this time we are experiencing, in my mind, was that of a coffee maker. I felt as though this pandemic was taking us from Keurig (30 seconds), past Mr. Coffee (10 minutes), to percolators (half hour) in our lifestyles – you know, slowing us down a little. But, after further evaluation and education, the picture in my head is a compost pile.
A compost pile is not very attractive … in sight or in smell … to put things mildly. New garbage is thrown into it on almost a daily basis. And the time it takes to transform trash into treasure is measured in months, not minutes. Some fine dining precedes every banana peel and eggshell that is tossed in … and, ultimately, nothing else transforms like its end-product.
I am not quite sure how my mind traveled from mathematics to gardening today, but I am sure of both the equation and the illustration. Fear, frustration and foolishness can be minimized by evaluation, education and enjoyment. But it is going to take time … with more garbage yet to be added … before the benefits will be ready … a story about God @ Work if I ever heard one!