Fairly recently I was having a discussion with a friend, and she said, “I will always remember 2017 as the year the entire world went crazy.” This statement was made, not only in the context of our current national and international affairs, but in the context of her actual life, which is in an undeniable valley.
Because I tended to agree with her, I took a purposeful step back from the things that had me in a tailspin; namely, the news, my facebook feed, my smart phone addiction since the inauguration. I found, around the time of this conversation, that I could hardly take a solid breath because I was overloading myself on information that I couldn’t possibly change. I was waging battles in my mind when I wasn’t even in the fight. So I stepped back, turned off the television, turned off my phone, and focused on the problems that were right in front of me, and over which I had even the slightest bit of control.
Here is what I found. I discovered, slightly to my dismay, that my generation is meeting middle age, and with that particular shift come many shocking realities. For not only has our nation recently entered an extraordinarily turbulent and unpredictable time, but my people, my friends and family, are likewise entering a major shift in their lifestyles, priorities, and in many cases family structure. It’s an interesting place to be.
The carefree, childless days of our twenties are behind us. Late nights at the bars worrying over who picks up the tab are long gone. Now are the days of parenthood, marriages that succeed or fail, mortgage payments, and aging bodies. I can hear my friends on a daily basis looking at their country, looking at their lives, and wondering what happened.
Wondering why the whole world has suddenly gone crazy.
I have friends who have recently battled childhood cancer. I know of several families who have lost their children to cancer, and are coping with the aftermath. A friend I went to college with recently lost his wife to cancer. I have friends who have children with developmental or learning delays, and are involved in the daily struggle to help their children grow and mature.
I have friends who are themselves battling cancer, even as they try to raise young children and maintain a sense of normalcy. I have friends whose marriages are either falling apart or have already fallen, who feel stuck in the trenches of a reality they never expected, and are looking for any toehold in the mud and muck with which to claw their way out.
It’s depressing. And yet, I’ve seen other things too. I’ve seen a young mother with cancer, literally on death’s doorstep, rally and return home and finally gain some strength. I’ve seen a young Hispanic girl beginning to excel in school due to the tireless kindness of a tutor who loves her and never misses a session. I’ve watched a mom in a tight spot find the toehold she needed due to the goodwill of a stranger who wanted to help with no possibility of acknowledgement.
I don’t know what the future will hold. But lately I’ve gotten off my phone and into real life, and I’ve watched one small miracle after another small miracle pull those I love a little further along. And one day those miracles will add up, and these friends will be back on sure footing. One prayer at a time, one hurdle at a time, one miracle at a time.
We can’t always see where we’re headed. We don’t always understand why things happen the way they do. But what I’ve seen lately has reaffirmed my belief that if we lift one another up, and if we keep faith in our basic humanity, we can slowly overcome the impossible. Stranger to stranger, friend to friend, human to human, it’s up to us to say the prayers, do the work, lend the helping hand, and watch the miracles happen through us.
And who knows what the future will hold. It might not be crazy at all.