If you are a fan of 1990s music, you will recognize the title above as a Bon Jovi song. The best line from the song is, “I’m feelin’ like a Monday, but someday I’ll be Saturday night.” And who among us has not been feeling like a Monday lately? President-elect Joe Biden, right after deaths from COVID-19 in America passed 100,000, said it this way: “I think I know what you’re feeling. You feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest.”
The year 2020 might not be the worst in humankind’s history, but it is the worst most of us can remember. Here are just a few of the woes we have faced this year:
- As of December 21, 2020, COVID-19 has infected almost 18 million Americans, killing nearly 318,000 of them.
- The U.S. unemployment rate reached a staggering 14.7 percent in April and is currently at 6.7 percent, still almost double the level before the pandemic, with 885,000 Americans applying for unemployment just last week.
- Wildfires in western states have destroyed more than 8.2 million acres, razing more than 10,000 homes and buildings and killing at least 37 people.
- At least 1022 tornadoes occurred in the U.S. in 2020, killing at least 78 persons.
- There have been 30 named hurricanes and tropical storms in 2020 (the yearly average is twelve), resulting in more than an estimated $20 billion in damages.
- About 4 in 10 Americans report they have experienced food insecurity for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 2020 brought the loss of icons such as Chadwick Boseman, Sean Connery, Chuck Yeager, Kobe Bryant, John Lewis, Charlie Pride, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
- The killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other people of color resulted in demonstrations in every major city in the United States, some with looting and violence.
- President Trump has challenged election results without any evidence, undermining confidence in our democratic processes.
- Nearly 25 percent of Americans are experiencing symptoms of depression, three times the number before the pandemic began.
- According to a study by Columbia University, the pandemic could increase homelessness by 45 percent, an increase of 250,000 from last year.
- 7.8 million Americans have fallen into poverty over the last five months, while 45 of the 50 largest companies in America have turned a profit since March, and American billionaires increased their wealth by 36 percent over that same period.
At times this year, feeling claustrophobic from being quarantined in my home from time to time, I have felt a little bit like one of the Jews in this scene from Schindler’s List:[i]
I realize the restrictions and minor inconveniences I have experienced this year are nothing compared to what the Jews in Europe experienced during World War II. Still, many of us have had similar feelings of hopelessness and despair.
There is another Bon Jovi song I like to listen to when feelings of hopelessness and despair come over me: Keep the Faith. Here are a few of its lines:
Keep the faith, don’t let your love turn to hate
Keep the faith; you know you’re gonna live through the rain
Keep the faith, though you know it’s never too late
Keep the faith
I don’t believe Bon Jovi meant keeping the faith in only a religious sense. Keeping the faith means remaining patient with an optimistic attitude, knowing things will get better. Perhaps Chuck Nolan (played by Tom Hanks) in the film Cast Away, said it best: “I know what I have to do now, I’ve got to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
Here’s a scene from Defiance,[ii] another fact-based World War II movie that helps us understand what can happen when we keep the faith:
Nothing is impossible when we keep the faith. Working together, with the strong taking care of the weak, we can create miracles.
I am often amazed at how humankind can accomplish extraordinary things against what seem to be overwhelming challenges. Sometimes, though, the smaller yet tricky difficulties of our everyday routines are harder to handle. How do we keep the faith to meet those challenges? The film, Evan Almighty,[iii] tells us one way:
We keep the faith through simple acts of random kindness. And those acts of kindness can change the world. And don’t forget to do the little dance.
Recently, I have been writing my personal history. It has given me the chance to look back at past experiences and how I dealt with them. My family and I have had our share of trials and tribulations—as every family does. As my father-in-law taught me, challenges in life are mandatory, but misery is not. In other words, the important thing is how we react and respond to those trials. And through them all, we have tried to keep the faith. Here are a few examples of challenges, large and small, our family has gone through and what we told ourselves to keep the faith:
- When your new bride starts crying at the altar, keep the faith. Even if they aren’t tears of joy, she might one day decide that you’re not so bad after all.
- When you and your spouse have your first real fight, and she crawls under the bed to get away from you, keep the faith. It might be a tight squeeze, but there’s room for two under there, and it is as good a place as any to apologize.
- When someone sideswipes your car on the way to a church meeting, keep the faith. Be grateful no one was hurt.
- When your pregnant wife’s water breaks, but she’s not due for another three months, keep the faith. Doctors and nurses can perform miracles.
- When someone hurts your feelings, knowingly or unknowingly, keep the faith. They might not even know they hurt your feelings and would be horrified if they did.
- When your teenager makes a choice that you feel will lead to pain and unhappiness, keep the faith. Believe it or not, teenagers mature and, like all of us, they learn more from their mistakes than their successes.
- When you lose your job because of company downsizing but you believe you’re better qualified than others who kept their jobs, keep the faith. It might be you needed to learn humility and empathy for others before your dream job falls into your lap.
- When one of your best friends moves away, leaving a significant hole in your life, keep the faith. Friendship can span thousands of miles.
- When you repeatedly invite others to your house for dinner, but not one of them asks you to their home in return, keep the faith. The joy of serving others should be enough. And if it is not, maybe your acts had the wrong motivation.
- When you try and try to overcome a shortcoming and, just as you think you’re making progress, you have a significant setback, keep the faith. Overcoming a bad habit is never easy, and you can find great strength in even the striving.
- When, as an act of service, you loan your car to a neighbor in need, only to have your car broken into and the car stereo stolen, keep the faith. That’s what insurance is for. Besides, it’s just worldly.
- When a loved one dies unexpectedly, and you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, keep the faith. You expressed your love for them many times in many ways throughout their life.
- When you exercise regularly but still gain weight, keep the faith. The exercise did your insides good, regardless of how you look on the outside.
- When you try to exercise faith in every footstep of life, but sand keeps getting in your shoes, keep the faith. It’s those grains of sand that slowly turn into pearls of wisdom.
Do you recognize similar experiences in your life? If so, keep the faith. Things will get better.
In closing, here are the first and last scenes of Love Actually,[iv] which reminds us that there is more love than hate in the world, and with that love, we can always keep the faith. And by keeping the faith, soon all our Mondays will become Saturday nights.
[i] Schindler’s List:
- Production Companies: Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian (based on the book by Thomas Keneally)
- Starring: Liam Neeson; Ralph Fienes; and Ben Kingsley
- Release date: February 4, 1994
- Production Companies: Paramount Vantage; Grosvenor Park Productions, and The Bedford Falls Company
- Director: Edward Zwick
- Screenwriters: Clayton Frohman and Edward Zwick
- Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell
- Release date: January 16, 2009
[iii] Evan Almighty:
- Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, and Relativity Media
- Director: Tom Shadyac
- Screenwriter: Steve Oedekerk
- Starring: Steve Carell, Margan Freeman, and Lauren Graham
- Release date: June 22, 2007
[iv] Love Actually:
- Production Companies: Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films
- Director: Richard Curtis
- Screenwriter: Richard Curtis
- Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson
- Release date: November 14, 2003