For years now, we’ve been a society that has tried to numb or defer pain. You can see it in our addictions. Addictions to noise, to debt, to food, to social media – pick your poison.
But bad behavior has consequences. It shows up in our parenting and our spending. Our children do things and don’t feel consequences. So, too many grow up overly sensitive and undisciplined.
Our economy was built on debt at a personal, corporate and governmental level. We were a bug looking for a windshield that the COVID-19 virus provided.
Young people were paralyzed by too many options. They had FOMO. A friend of mine calls this confused state of mind “chosen confusion.”
Young men especially lived in delayed adolescence, addicted to porn and online gaming.
And the result – anxiety at record high levels, our spirits sending signals that life was out of balance.
Actions have consequences
But actions have consequences. Live your life online and you will fail to live a real life. Spend all your money and when a crisis like this hits, you will wish you’d saved more.
The good news is that consequences restore order. They bring things back into balance. Pain is there to teach us something. Take the teacher out of the room and the class will stop learning.
So now we are all under pressure. Families are experiencing financial pressure. As the quarantine begins to lift, young people looking for jobs will no longer have options. They will have to work hard to find employment. After months of joblessness, if they find one, they may experience the sensation of gratitude.
Entitlement will die
The good news for parents is that what we could not give our children they will now be gifted by the hardship coming their way. Whereas many felt entitled to the resources they may have done nothing to earn, now they will experience those resources going away.
In America, we throw away a third of our food. Nearly half of us are considered obese. We eat too much and don’t exercise enough.
One consequence is much higher death rates from the virus for those who are overweight, eat poorly, and don’t exercise. We may not want to exercise, but we do want to live.
Globalism brought us an abundance of goods and easy travel. That is stopping. At present, we are neither shopping nor traveling. But we also have the positive consequence of our lives not being so noisy.
Pain is a teacher
Yes, it will hurt. But God gave us pain to teach us right living. The pain coming our way will help us. As we stop numbing ourselves, we will begin to sleep better. As we stop running from pain, but ask it what it is there for, we will hear it asking us to change the things that are making us miserable.
You could say a blog like this as a downer. But viewed from the lens of restoring order, I’m actually optimistic. We were living in a world out of whack. The pollution over our cities was a metaphor for the messy, noisy lives we were living.
The pollution levels are lower than they have been in decades. A natural balance is returning. We may not see our own lives returning to blue skies just yet, but that may at some point be a consequence of the pain we’re beginning to feel.
A few questions to help you pivot: What is the pain in your life that hurts the most? What is it trying to teach you? How could you listen to it more patiently?