I have recently been reminded again and again that 2020 has been a hard year for most everyone. I also realized the pandemic provided a life-altering opportunity for us.

The disruption, discomfort, discouragement and loss from COVID has been significant. Only time will tell the steep price we will pay physically, emotionally, relationally and financially. At the same time, the pandemic has given us a significant and extended opportunity to deal with internal health, relationship friction and core issues we easily overlook, assuming things are fine.

I have seen this play out in businesses, churches, families and friendships. COVID is like a tornado that swept through town. Damage has been done. Life has been altered. Fear and pain are heightened. While the second floor of one building is now gone, the garage or the roof of another, the COVID tornado has exposed the foundation of every individual, organization and family.

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The condition of the foundation, which we typically never deal with (out of sight out of mind), is now seen. Strengths in the foundation are confirmed and should be celebrated. Cracks, impurities and weakened joints are also now impossible to overlook. And we have a decision to make: Do we simply go about re-building the second floor, the garage or the roof? Or do we decide it is time to repair those deficiencies in the foundation before we repair and replace what’s missing? Do we quickly shove new dirt over the exposed foundation, choosing not to “look for any more problems” and move on to the more apparent and tangible issues? Or do we leverage this situation to pause, carefully inspect the foundation, perhaps even remove more dirt for investigative purposes and trust God to lead us in our next steps of healing, health and holiness? It is a tough decision, right? And a decision that has significant long-term repercussions.

Sticking with my analogy, I am convinced the length and uncertainty of the pandemic has removed more dirt, exposed more foundation, and made the impurities even more difficult to ignore. The pandemic has created a “holding pattern” for many of the activities and initiatives we typically occupy our time, money and thinking time on. The result? Many leaders and organizations are asking themselves difficult questions with margin to contemplate, discuss and make appropriate adjustments. Many people, including me, are asking themselves questions they have rarely paused long enough to consider.

Prior to the pandemic, God reminded me of the power and purpose of, “Be still and know that I am God.” And yet, did I engage in stillness or even truly understand how to do that? Nine months into this pandemic I have certainly had ample opportunity to do so. Travel time is down, common hobbies and activities have been altered or unavailable. We have more “down time” than ever and don’t know when it will end.

My encouragement? Embrace the pause! Reflect, reach up to God to gain his perspective, journey with him to reach in and inspect the deeper issues, dive into difficult conversations, and reach out to friends, family, mentors and others who are available to help. We have space in our calendars and our minds. The foundations are exposed. Let’s take advantage and rebuild wisely!

Hauser is a pastor and leadership coach and can be reached at jon@growingforwardtoday.com