PLYMOUTH, MI – I lived in Flint as a child during the 1960’s.
It was the era of big cars, smoky factories, black and white TV’s and simple-stick homes built for the rapidly expanding population of factory workers. Children played freely outside with one another, and only returned home when the street lights or porch lights came on at nightfall.
I remember when my tonsils became so large that my voice changed into a laughingly, weird sound. At first it was amusing and I entertained my sister and cousins. Days later, my throat hurt so badly that I completely stopped speaking.
As I laid motionless and silent on the couch, Mom gently rubbed the front of my neck up and down with her small soft hand. With each movement, I felt what seemed like large marbles in my throat. To me it was a mystery, but my mother said in a reassuring voice and with a smile on her face, “It’s time we go see Dr. Nitz.”
The doctor spoke to mom asking about the family and work. Then Dr. Nitz removed the chrome lid off of a glass jar to remove what looked like the world’s largest popsicle stick. I can still recall the “tinny” sound of that lid opening and closing on top of the glass. Dr. Nitz approached me with a bright light shining from the band on his forehead and with what now looked, to a little boy, like a broomstick in his hand. His fingers reeked of the aroma of his last cigarette as he pushed around deeper, deeper into my throat. Then side to side near the tonsils. The force of his push could not stop the painful gagging. After Dr. Nitz pulled back, he squeezed my knee to comfort my lurching then he turned to Mom and said, “Those tonsils need to come out as soon as possible.”
Little did I know that statement meant pain and fun.
Today, I can take you to the vacant lot near the corner of South Ballenger and Beecher Roads, in Flint, where the hospital once stood and where my tonsils were extracted. Even now the unkept trees, bushes and grass reveal what remains of the circle driveway that approached the intimidating doorway to the hospital. The pavement and building are long-gone, but the memory of that event is still very fresh in my memory.
I can still recall the pain after the surgery. Back in those days, there was no such thing as outpatient surgery. Everyone remained in the hospital-bed recovering for two to three days. Fortunately, the discomfort in my throat morphed into something less painful with each new morning.
The fun during those days came in the form of a doctor’s prescription for my pain. I remember immediately after the surgery was over and I was coming out of my gas-induced sleep, the doctor standing at my bedside winked at my parents and said, “The best thing for this little man’s pain is for him to eat as much ice cream as he can.” With that commission given to me by a professional, I set-out to eat six portions of ice cream a day. It was a dream come true.
In the midst of that pain and fun, I learned something important that I sometimes forget as an adult. I learned that I could not wait until I was playing with my sister, my cousins and my friends, again. There was no ice cream that was going to replace those people in my life. I wanted to return to my relationships with family and friends.
I have some important questions for you. You might want to get out a pen and paper. You might want to print these questions out and create your own worksheet. There is a command on this page that will allow you to print this article on your printer.
After you are released from the COVID-19 quarantine, what are your next steps?
Will you return to life as normal?
Will you find a new, improved normal?
Has this time of solitude made you rethink your priorities?
Would you write down what activities filled your hours pre-COVID?
Do all of those pre-COVID appointments need to go back on your calendar?
What was the reward from those pre-COVID scheduled events?
What new priorities came to your mind during the quarantine?
What specific steps do you need to take to secure the new priorities/appointments?
With whom will you share your plan so that they can hold you accountable?
Will you post reminders throughout your life to remind you of your new priorities?
Before I let you scoot-off to reset your priorities, let me share with you one of my most-valued COVID-discoveries.
My COVID-discovery and one of my reset priorities is simple. Like the little man in the hospital, during the 1960’s eating ice cream, I want to return to my relationships with family and friends. But, I want to nurture those relationships better than ever before.
Therefore, looking two to three months in-advance I am going to place “personal” appointments on my calendar, when I am off of work, and spend it with family and friends. My free-time is no longer going to be wasted-time. I want to spend my time with my loved-ones and with those who yet don’t know the love of Christ.
I am going to reset my priorities now so that I am prepared when my day of release, from COVID-19 quarantine, comes. I dare you to reset your priorities. Answer the ten questions above for yourself and reset your priorities for a more meaningful life.
The Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do,” (Ephesians 5:16-17, NLT). I love those words!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.