By Doug Inglish — My dad used an old saying rather frequently when I was growing up. I’m sure you have heard it before as well: This Too Shall Pass.
Like any child or adolescent, I would get worked up over what was, in the grand scheme of things, astonishingly temporary. You didn’t get what you wanted for your birthday, or you lose a game on a bad call, or a teacher mistreats you (it happens), and it seems big at the time. But dad, who had been through much worse, would calmly recite those words. I didn’t always see how that could be true, but it always was, because he knew when to apply and when not.
So, why did those things seem to matter at the time? After all, buy the time I was a teenager I was aware that the future would be a lot different. Birthday parties and softball games and biology classes would be replaced with grownup things like church board meetings, a wife, and a job. Why did I sweat the small stuff?
For the same reason you did. Because at that age, it was all small stuff. I didn’t’ have a job to keep, I had a quiz to pass. So, when my father reminded me that “this too shall pass”, he was sometimes talking about the most important parts of my life at that time. But that time passed, and those issues passed as well.
So perspective is good, and having been through seemingly important things that did, after all, pass, I learned what else is going to pass.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:10 NIV).
This sure puts everything that seems important now in perspective, doesn’t it?
This too shall pass. COVID-19, your job, the mortgage, your retirement plan, it all passes away. The graduation ceremony that you worked twelve years to celebrate and just got to experience from the family car. The dream vacation that will not be happening on your 40th anniversary. Baseball season. Whatever seems important now.
It. Too. Shall. Pass.
Don’t get me wrong, things in this life do matter. Your job, your family life, your vacation, these are things that take a lot of effort on your part, and it’s no fun to watch them slip out of your grasp. I especially feel for the Class of 2020; this is not fair.
But it will pass.
It’s okay to take some time for reflection, and to feel a sense of loss. Even my father, that fount of wisdom who so often tried to give me a sense of perspective, is struggling with the closing of his local library, which is as important to him as football season is to Bronco’s fans. Peter also was talking about loss when he noted that the earth and everything in it would burn. But even that he could keep in perspective because of what was to follow. In the meantime, we must be patient, and generous, and kind, and hopeful.
The things my father told me would pass. And they passed. The things Peter says will pass, will pass. And on that day, none of us are going to complain that it wasn’t fair because we never took that cruise or got that promotion or wore that cap and gown. When it all passes away, our future above the clouds will give perspective.
—Doug Inglish is RMC director for planned Giving and trust services