Lockdown: Time for a Reframe
The Resurrection Reframe
Imagine the shock of Jesus’ followers as they struggled to wrap their heads and hearts around the horrific events of His Passion and Death. And just as they were starting to accept that the worst had happened, Jesus was dead, and life was over, Mary Magdalene interrupted their grief to announce, “I have seen the Lord!”
The undeniable evidence of the Resurrection required that Jesus’ friends look at life in an entirely different way…through a totally new frame. Their old frame just wasn’t big enough or far-reaching enough to capture the reality of the Resurrection. What looked as if it was the worst thing that could happen to them was actually an incredible blessing.
During this past Lent, we experienced a sudden and total change in life as we know it. It certainly looks as if our current situation is one of the most traumatic upheavals that the world has known in the last few generations. But Easter reminds us that we have a new frame to see life through. We are Easter people, and that gives us an eternal vision that isn’t limited to just a matter of months.
In his Easter Sunday homily, the Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC, proclaimed the good news that “Easter RESETS all the clocks and calendars in all of our lives and in all of our futures… Easter is the dawn of a new world, and the beginning of a new era that transforms all of creation and extends the invitation to all of us to begin living in a new way.”
Pope Francis offers wise words for how we can reframe our current lockdown, living it in an entirely new way. He says that “we have to respond to our confinement with all our creativity” … with a yearning that begets hope and helps us escape our confinement.
Msgr. Frederick Dolan, Canada’s Vicar of Opus Dei, encourages us to get spiritually creative, allowing God to transform what looks like a major setback into an “interior spiritual growth spurt.” He says that if we pass this time in lockdown just holding on or treading water, we miss a great opportunity to be broken open and possibly stretched to greatness.
Surviving AND Thriving
So, in order to thrive and not just survive, we need to reset our lives according to the hope of the Resurrection. And that means reframing our thinking, our expectations, our goals, and even our ways of being.
Dr. Jim Taylor, author of How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen, shares words of wisdom in his podcast, Crisis to Opportunity. Dr. Taylor tells us to ditch the crisis mentality, which sounds like, “I must…” “I have to…” “I need to…” “I should…” “I’d better…” and “I gotta…”
Instead, he suggests that we think, “I would like to…” “It is my goal to…” “I’m working hard to…” “I’m directing all of my energy to…” “I’m excited to…” and finally, “I am hopeful that…” This mental reframe moves us from expectations that are often outside our control to goals that we can work towards during this crisis.
Making a Mental Shift
Reframing is a handy strategy for coping with anxiety. For instance, Catholic psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Majeres tells us that we can see our anxiety, not as an enemy but rather as an opportunity to grow and learn. We can even reframe that adrenaline rush as a performance enhancer to optimize our game!
Reframing is also a great tool for redirecting our thoughts and lifting us out of a temporary funk. As the saying goes, “It’s not life events that cause problems, but what we believe about them.” According to motivational speaker, Roger Reece, one of the secrets to changing our view of life is to act AS IF everything is exactly as it should be. We can believe that everything will be OK even if it doesn’t feel like it…something that takes faith!
Here’s some more encouragement to make that mental shift from crisis to creativity:
- Sit down, put your feet up, and take in this article by Dr. Jim Taylor, 7 Ways to Use the COVID-19 Crisis as a Personal Growth Opportunity
- Check out A Practical Guide to Reframing Your Thoughts and Making Yourself Happier and install new “software” to reset a negative outlook.
- Reframe “being stuck at home” as an opportunity for an extended retreat. Join Fr. Michael Gaitley for his Mercy & Mary Online Retreat and learn how to stretch yourself and become a saint in this time of time-out.
- For the ultimate reframe, practice gratitude. Read the Psychtalk, Thankful, Grateful, Blessed to find out how you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude every day.
- Stay tuned for tips from FFI’s #forthefamily Campaign for more ways to make lemonade out of lockdown lemons.
Above all, try reframing this time at home as a blessing instead of a bust, acting AS IF everything is as it should be. And with a Resurrection reframe, we can be assured that no matter how things feel right now, God is in charge and is working all things for our good. And THAT is the reason for our hope and the secret to our happiness, even in these difficult times.