October 2, 2020

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Focus on the headlines created with family and friends

Patti LambRecently, I shared with my sister that I was having a “valley” week. The news coming at me from every direction seemed negative and frightening. At one point, I actually had to stop myself from checking the headlines on my phone before getting out of bed. Otherwise, my day was doomed before my feet even hit the floor.

Then there’s talk in social circles, at work and even in line at the grocery store about the upcoming election, our economy, the virus which I shall not mention, unemployment claims, and just a sense of hopelessness in general. This is not to mention the loneliness being experienced by those who haven’t seen friends and family for months.

Everyone seems to have his or her opinion about who or what will fix the layers of issues that envelop us. And that all comes with pontificating and finger pointing.

Then my sister sent me something she saw on Facebook. While I’m one of the few people on the planet who is not on Facebook, I appreciated what she sent to me that day.

Jeannie sent me a post from a woman named Beverly Geer that had been reposted by many on Facebook.

The entry said: “Sometimes I just want it to stop. Talk of COVID, protests, looting, brutality. I lose my way. I become convinced that this ‘new normal’ is real life. Then I meet an 87-year-old who talks of living through polio, diphtheria, Vietnam protests and yet is still enchanted with life.”

“He seemed surprised when I said that 2020 must be especially challenging for him.”

“ ‘No,’ he said slowly, looking me straight in the eyes. ‘I learned a long time ago to not see the world through the printed headlines. I see the world through the people that surround me. I see the world with the realization that we love big. Therefore, I just choose to write my own headlines.’ ”

“Husband loves wife today.”

“Family drops everything to come to Grandma’s bedside.”

(He patted my hand.) “Old man makes new friend.”

“His words collide with my worries, freeing them from the tether I had been holding tight. They float away. I am left with a renewed spirit. My headline now reads ‘Woman overwhelmed by the spirit of kindness and the reminder that our capacity to love is never-ending,’ ” she wrote.

The author went on to encourage readers to apply this message to their own lives and rewrite their 2020 headlines. She suggested even having our children participate so that our headlines become a sort of gratitude journal.

Geer’s post ended with this statement: “It’s a quick reminder of everything that is right when lots of things seem to be falling apart.”

It was as if my “reset” button had been hit. I was reminded to stop gobbling up headlines like a Pac Man character. Instead, I must rely on my internal compass, turning to God as navigator.

Like my car’s GPS says to me when I make a wrong turn, “recalculating route.”

Instead of reading a newsfeed, I now try to spend my first waking moments talking to God, and then make some time to just listen and not fill the space.

I’m trying to focus on the wonderful headlines my family and friends write daily, celebrating the little victories, knowing that God is still at the helm, and all will be well.

“Kids defeat parents in three-day Scrabble match.”

“Three generations gather for virtual baby shower.”

As you refocus, what are your good headlines?

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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