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A View from Here

Exploring Faith and CommunityMacalester Plymouth United Church

September 3, 2020

Rev. Corinne Freedman Ellis

I follow self-described “clinically depressed motivational speaker” Glennon Doyle on social media, and if you’re a social media person, I’d highly recommend doing the same. She names what so many of us are feeling but perhaps aren’t brave enough to say. Then, she gives us something to do about it.

This week she posted a series of photos from classrooms across the country. In-person, virtual, hybrid, and home learning areas were all featured. These classrooms all displayed one of Doyle’s most beloved sayings: “We can do hard things.”

And isn’t that the rallying cry of 2020?

As families prepare for back-to-school, as we approach an election that has the potential to be the most consequential of our lifetimes, as we hit the six-month mark of social distancing and Zoom everything, as hurricane and derecho and fire damage looms, as all of it feels like too much, we can take a deep breath and remember: We can do hard things. 

Greeting our 170th day of physical distancing without being broken by isolation? We can do hard things.Navigating the grocery store with patience, good-heartedness, and grace even when it feels incredibly stressful and risky? We can do hard things.Figuring out the childcare schedule by sorting through four full-time working adult calendars for the 25th consecutive week? We can do hard things.Making 100 Get-Out-The-Vote calls? We can do hard things.Having a conversation with a neighbor about why the Black Lives Matter movement is more important than ever, even as support for the movement is waning? We can do hard things.Staying informed about what’s going on in our community, our country, and the world while keeping ourselves from falling into a pit of despair? We can do hard things.

And do you know why we can do hard things? It’s not because we’re hardy Minnesotans — though that’s certainly true. It’s not because we’re fiercely strong and independent — though I know that many of us would claim those descriptors. It’s because we belong to one another, and we belong to one another because we belong to God. We can keep doing the hard things that keep our community safe because we know our lives are inextricably linked, and that harm to one person is harm to our whole community. We can keep doing the hard things that lead to big changes because we care about the future of all God’s children, not just our own. We can keep doing the hard things that allow life to move forward, step by step, because we know we can’t always do hard things, but there are others to carry the baton to the next leg of the race while we rest and recover. 

Every one of us is doing immeasurably hard things right now. The next time it all feels like too much, I invite you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat that saying: “We can do hard things.” And maybe call a church friend, too, who can carry the baton one leg farther.