For well over a year, I feel we have lived in a hole and a muddy one at that! We collectively experienced events most of us never dreamed would occur. A nightmare of global death and destruction brought us to our collective knees and challenged most all human beings across our planet.

Trucks converting to morgues, hospitals overflowing, families mourning, businesses shuttered, churches closed, school doors padlocked as fear lurked around every corner. As of today, over 3 million people did not waken from the nightmare.

On top of all that tragedy, we add our country’s abysmal political upheaval and division. I mean, how much more mud can we throw to make our lives more miserable? So how do we climb out of this quagmire? Where do we go from here?

I know a little something about climbing out of the hole of despair ... I believe it cannot be done without the hand of God. It can’t. Nothing can heal completely without his help. Absolutely Nothing. We cannot make the world a kinder place without his love. Never. We cannot survive grief without faith, and we cannot live in joy without peace. It will never happen.

We are given freedoms by God to make choices throughout our lives. But, how many times have we all made the wrong decision and paid the price? I finally quit counting, but I will rue most of my bad choices until the day I die. Yes, God forgave my many transgressions, but I still must live with their consequences.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love others as your love yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other!” Galatians 5:13-15 NIV

Well, need I say more? How many of you do not recall the last sentence of the writing from the Apostle Paul? Are we losing ourselves in the mud of misery and destroying each other? Or should we grab the hand of God, who teaches us how to stop our pain? It is our freedom to choose. Aren’t we all tired of anguish?

America’s freedoms are spelled out in our Constitution and are the law of the land. So, likewise, God’s freedoms reside in our souls, and he urges us to follow his rules and commands.

We are a country based on religious freedom, but where or how we worship is not as important as honoring God. Believing him when he states, “My highest commandment is to love one another.” Oh, how we forget that when we call each other names or wallow in the mud of politics or don’t help one another get well. Or when our personal freedoms take precedence over our care and concern for others. Oh, how we forget when we hate or spread lies, or we look at death in numbers instead of lives lost. Oh, how we forget when we gloat over our wins or cry over our losses.

We can climb out of the hole of filthy darkness if we each choose a shovel, pitch in, and clean up the mud together. There is a light at the top, blazing in glory and urging us all to keep our eyes focused up and not down.

It is far easier to hate than love. It is far easier to spew rhetoric to create turmoil than to remain quiet to obtain peace. It is far easier to offer nothing than to give away much. So do we choose easy, or do we find enrichment through hard work?

For those of us who survived these months, we have a second chance to do all we can to help others to find joy in their lives. We have the opportunity to teach our children right from wrong and how goodness reigns over evil. We can show them that God is alive by the way we live.

Where do we go from here? It is our freedom to choose to become well, happy, and peaceful people, or we can stay buried in darkness. For me, I will climb up to the light. After all, that is where we will find a hopeful tomorrow.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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