By: Charles Joseph

During times such as these, let us take a moment to reflect. We live in one nation under God. Our country was founded on a set of principles. On our money it says In God We Trust. Our flag is a symbol of true democracy. By the people and for the people. As a people, we live in a time of cell phones, social media, video chat, and on-demand television. But these things don’t always bring us closer together. They don’t always bring us closer to God. Technology in its many forms encourages us to stay in and socialize from the comfort of our homes, alone. We no longer stop and reflect on what we are about to say. We just say it. Everything has become instant.

But character is not instant. Character is a process that leads to satisfaction and understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Times such as this are an opportunity to build character and come together as a nation. You see, no man or woman is an island.

When I was 15, my mother was suddenly diagnosed with colon cancer. She fought hard but died three months later. It was devastating. As a young man I tried to soldier on. I had neither the character nor the experience to face such tragedy. I didn’t understand. So, I prayed.

I prayed and prayed. Then one day, out of thin air, I felt the peace that surpasses all understanding. I knew in that moment that I wasn’t alone. For the first time in my life I had an advocate, a redeemer and a warrior on my side and in my heart. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I needed more. I needed other people to carry me when my strength failed me. A strand of three makes a sturdy rope. And blessed is he who has someone to help him up when he has fallen.

I searched high and low for the connection that I so eagerly desired. I went to churches, joined volunteer efforts, and reached out to anyone that was open. But it still wasn’t enough. I had missed the point. I had received my faith freely and discreetly with no expectation of earning it. In this way I discovered what it really means to help myself. I began to help others.

The more I volunteered and reached out through prayer and support to those that were hurting, the more I healed. As I did more for others, I found that others wanted to do more for me. Briefly into this process I met my two best friends. They came to me in a time of need, and I was there for them. But how many times have I come back for their help since then? Countless.

When I was twenty-nine, my father died from the same illness as my mother. Devastated, I began the process over again. I still hadn’t fully learned the lesson. Eventually, even with support this time, I grew weary in my journey. So, I dove inward.

This is where character is developed. With a little experience under my belt, I was ready to see things as they really were. I then understood that we live in a fallen world not devoid of God but with the help of God. I became grateful for the things in my life that were good. Most importantly, I became grateful that I have a God that I can reach out to whenever I need help. Let us not grieve like those who have no hope. We know that in all things he works together for the good of those who love him.

In my mid-thirties, character and experience began to co-exist. Intertwined deep within me there was a passion for wholeness. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But still there was one thing missing. A sense of community. When I was growing up it was normal to wave at a stranger, play outside with no worries, and listen to our mothers call us from the front door for dinner.

In various degrees technology has numbed us into self-seeking behaviors devoid of character building and community outreach. Let us take a stand for ourselves and those that we love. Today, while quarantined from the coronavirus, take some time to reflect upon your life and what you have made of it. Take full responsibility. Be grateful for the inner strength you have left and then find even more to be grateful for. Remember that there is a comforter out there for anyone who asks. Pray. Reach out. Love each other. And don’t forget to smile!
By: Charles Joseph

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Athens Now Online 2019