It's Never Too Late to Find Peace and Joy
- Part 1 -
An Essay by Sara Goetz, Cornerstone Community Team
My family and I are HUGE Pixar/Disney fans. I love the way they tell stories, the characters they develop, the beautiful settings, the voices — I love it all. My family and I watched “Onward” a couple of weeks ago (if you haven’t seen it, watch it immediately) and I may have ended the movie with a tear-streaked face and staccato-like breathing. As we were talking about the movie (don’t worry, I won’t give away any spoilers), my son commented about the many “villains” in the story and made a profound observation that the biggest villain was time itself.
And I began to think about that. He was onto something. The more I looked, the more I saw that time is one of the most common villains in every story. Consider the “Little Mermaid.” Ariel had three days to get Prince Eric to fall in love with her. In “Beauty and the Beast,” the beast was racing against the clock to win her heart before the rose wilted. In “Toy Story 1,” Woody had until moving day to find and bring Buzz home. In "Coco," Miguel had until dawn or else he would be stuck in the Land of the Dead. And in the classic fairytale, “Cinderella” had until midnight before the spell would wear off.
It does make sense that time would emerge as a popular villain in the stories we tell. That’s because we have zero control over time. The sun rises and sets based on the speed of our planet orbiting around it. (Also something out of our control.) We know that we have a limited number of hours in the day, days in a week, and weeks in a month. Just ask any kid about the relative length of summer vacation to the school year and each one will tell you that day per day, the school year is infinitely longer. Time often does not work the way we want it to. We have an intrinsic fear of missing an opportunity, of failing to secure something, or not being able to fix something “in the nick of time.” Collectively, we tend to feel that we are racing the clock. And once the time is up, the game is over.
If you are experiencing any anxiety or depression, it would be normal and natural to feel that it’s too late to do anything about it. Maybe this is all new to you, something you’ve never experienced before, and you feel powerless to change it. Perhaps you’ve wondered in the past if this is something you needed to address but for whatever reason, you didn’t. Maybe you’ve always felt that this was a problem but were able to manage it under normal circumstances. Now we are in the middle of a pandemic and trying to adjust to a new way of life and you may feel like it’s too late.
Let me assure you, it’s never too late. I am 100 percent confident you haven’t missed an opportunity to grow, to heal, or to be set free. While it’s true that our mortal lives are constrained and defined by time, the larger truth is that the God we serve is the creator of time. He is not controlled by it, threatened by it, nor is He bound to it. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Or consider Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’
Personally, I find the passage in John 3 where Nicodemus encounters Jesus to be the most comforting when it comes to understanding the way Jesus thinks about time. In this encounter, Nicodemus, bound by our mortal relationship with time, explains his fear that he missed the opportunity for spiritual renewal by saying, “How can someone be born when they are old?... Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4) Jesus goes on to explain that spiritual rebirth and new life have nothing to do with age. His plan to redeem us exists outside of — and is not constrained by — the linear nature of time. The work He does and wants to do is never limited by the things that limit us.
You are His child and you can rest assured that you haven’t missed an opportunity to address your anxiety or depression. You can’t run out of time in learning how to manage it. No timer was set that would limit your opportunity to grow in this area. The clock isn’t in charge and time has no say in this matter. Resist the temptation to believe that nothing can be done and you are trapped in an anxious or depressed mind forever. Pixar and Disney may be convinced that time is our greatest villain. But in the Kingdom of God, there is no wilting rose, no dawn, no moving day, no clock chiming midnight. The clocks have been stopped, the timers are undone, and the sun rises and sets at HIS command. Rest assured, you haven’t missed the boat.
This is part 1 of a 2 part article. If you'd like to go ahead and read the next one, click here.