What if we lived in a world where COVID-19 hadn’t happened? What if all those plans we had hadn’t been altered? What if we didn’t have masks on our faces right now or this nagging feeling that things are very different?
These were the questions I asked myself as I watched Will Darbyshire’s newest video, “Faces & Places.” Darbyshire was tasked by Adobe to create a video that would fit under the brief “time travel,” so he did. Darbyshire compiled video segments from his travels and escapades during the year 2019, showcasing the beautiful places and people he had come in contact with in a world that was pre-COVID-19. This video made me think about how we were as a human race before we experienced a year such as this. But not only did it make me contemplate the immense impact this year has had on us, it made me think about the sheer impact any year or season can have on us.
We are each the summation of places, experiences and other people we come into contact with. We carry moments and interactions and fleeting thoughts with us everywhere we go. So, what happens when we experience something that is so deeply formative we cannot imagine existing without it — we cannot remember what it was even like to exist prior to “meeting this person” or “living through that moment”?
Similarly, as I conclude this chapter of my life that is college and reflect on its occurrences, on one hand, I am envious of the person I was before entering — a person who was inundated with anticipation and curiosity with no clue of what was to come. I had so much to learn and endure and experience when I stepped into this role. I had yet to experience so many of the instances that have been undoubtedly formative in my trajectory as a person, nor had I encountered the people who I cannot imagine moving forward without. Who was I this time four years ago? Who was I before experiencing these things? What did I care about? What was I anxious about? I am envious of this former self because of all the good she was about to live through. However, at the same time, I don’t envy her at all because she did not know what it felt like to know these things I now know. She did not know these people, she had not witnessed these interactions between passersby, she had not yet heard what are now my favorite songs. At that point in life, I had so much to learn that I didn’t even know what I needed to learn. And I know good and well that I was anxious about many things — things that I cannot even remember now.
“If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace.”
I’m reminded of these words Jesus spoke to the city of Jerusalem. If only they had known what would bring them peace. As I reflect on my life the past four years and think about the magnitude they have had, I can’t help but think these words of Jesus would have applied every step of the way. And now, as I’m facing massive amounts of uncertainty and worry, I can’t help but think Jesus again would say, “If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace.”
It is funny how much we can try to predict, plan, manipulate and pore over, when, in the end, we look back and can’t imagine things being any different. We can’t imagine not living through our worst-case scenario coming to life; we can’t imagine living without meeting these people or enduring that challenge. Somewhere along the way, there no longer exists that “plan B” or the alternate universe where “everything went according to plan” because everything just was the way it was.
So, today, as I reflect, process, wax, wane and move forward — although I’m doing a terrible job of staying calm and collected — I can’t help but hear Jesus’ ancient words reverberate through my stubborn, human heart: “If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace.”