Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden. JDP photo

By John D. Pierce

My friends Chris and Dianne Fuller, while living in Savannah years ago, experienced a flooded house. It was a mess for them and their two sons.

Even effervescent Chris was feeling down when his parents, Millard and Linda, founders of Habitat of Humanity, came over from Americus, Ga., to lend a hand. I’ve long remembered what Chris told me about his conversation with his late father.

Millard reminded Chris that he could not do anything to change the circumstances but he would choose his response. The options, he told his campus minister son, are generally to be bitter or become better.

He reminded Chris that he would meet people he would not have known otherwise through this tough experience. And, on the other side, there was be benefits from those encounters.

This was no Pollyanna perspective, but a helpful reminder that while we do not choose our circumstances, we indeed choose our responses.

In the current uncertain times we can choose fear and selfishness or compassion and service. We can build stronger relationships in person with the few and convey our love and support to others from afar (thanks to the convenient technological connections of this era).

Experts admit to their uncertainty about the severity and longevity of this current challenge, indeed a unique experience for most of us. However, our responses appear to be determining factors in both.

On the other side of this yet-to-be-determined experience we will be shaped by and remembered for how we respond. The better, rather than bitter, responses are always marked by care and compassion.

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