By Steven Norris
What now? As I sit down to write this week, the results of the election are still in question. No clear winner has been declared, so we all wait. This interim moment will eventually end, and we will be left with the same question: What now?
This week, a mentor reminded me of a passage from Victor Frankl’s classic, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” A survivor of the Nazi concentration camps in World War II, Frankl reflected on that experience when he wrote:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there are always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threaten to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance…”
As my mentor pointed out, there is a difference between stimulus and response. We don’t have control over many of the stimuli in our lives. Things happen. Some of them happen the way we want and some of them don’t. We often have very little control over such stimuli. What we do have control over is our response.
As I ponder the question (“What now?”), I want to be careful that I act from the deepest convictions about who I am and the kind of person God has called me to be in the world. I am not a victim of circumstance but have divine agency to choose how I will respond.
Therefore, regardless of how this week may turn out, this much is sure:
(1) I will seek to be guided by love. Jesus said that the greatest command was to love God with everything that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I will start with that.
(2) I will be attentive to my family. I will work hard to provide for my spouse and children, seeking to model for them what it means to be a man of integrity and faith, regardless of the circumstance.
(3) I will seek to serve those in need, give a voice to voiceless, and protective vulnerable, just as Jesus modeled and commanded (see Matthew 25). After all, Jesus said that he came to serve, not to be served.
(4) I will gather together with my community of faith, break bread around the Lord’s table, retell the stories of our faith, and seek to embody the Kingdom of Heaven with these people to whom God has called me. I know that I will disagree with some in that fellowship, but they are still my spiritual family—my brothers and sisters in the faith.
(5) I will not stop praying, drawing on the resources that give life for this day and hope for tomorrow. Most likely, I’ll probably start here:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”