A Prayer to Life: Ending a Cycle of Regrets
A Prayer to Life: Ending a Cycle of Regrets
by Kaitlin Lewis
I was in my apartment’s living room when we received the email. Earlier that day, almost every Ohio college had extended their spring breaks in light of the spread of COVID-19. We knew that UD was only steps behind. Sure enough, on March 10, at about 7:00 pm, the University of Dayton’s classes were officially canceled starting the next morning. In all honesty, my roommates and I were ecstatic. Two of us were studying for midterms the next day, and some were already procrastinating the work they had due later that week. Sure, being told to pack for at least two weeks of online school post-spring break was hard, but a long break couldn’t hurt.
Two weeks of an extended break turned into almost two months pretty quickly after UD had to make the hard decision to close the rest of the semester. Two months I was supposed to have on the campus that had become home. Two months I was supposed to have with the girls who had come to feel like family. Two months of the routine I built for myself as I am becoming more independent in life.
If I had known that was the last night to be spent in my apartment this semester I would’ve done several things differently. I probably wouldn’t have run around our building to visit everyone I knew. I probably wouldn’t have told my roommates to invite all of our closest friends over for one last hangout before we had to leave. No, if I could have done that day over again, it would’ve just been my five roommates and me, sitting on our couch with no distractions—just being with each other. Looking back on my too short of a sophomore year, the best nights were the ones that went into the next morning. I miss the simple nights the most.
I took so much for granted in college—the walks to my classes, our chapel in the middle of campus, professors who knew me by first and last name. I think distancing has made most of us realize what mundane routines we had really cherished. I hope we never again complain about commutes, deadlines, or a noisy coworker after life returns to our normal.
But all of this reflection and regret isn’t just for the opportunities I missed while I was at Dayton. Even in college, in what are easily the best years of my life yet, I found myself missing my home in Mason. I missed my family nights, I missed having dogs to cheer me up. I missed having so much free time when responsibilities were low and dreams were high for what life had in store for me next.
What’s funny is, these are the things I am gifted with now. Family, free time, hopes for what my future can look like after this quarantine.
With so much time on my hands to sit and be still, I realized how bad I really am at it. The thing I missed most in college was the chance to be present with others, while when I was at UD I would often think of the opportunities to do the same that I missed in Mason. It is a never-ending cycle of regret. There’s always one more step I could’ve taken, one more thing I could’ve done, one more person I could’ve loved on.
Am I always going to be in this same cycle?
I recently listened to a podcast that changed my prayer life a little. It urged the listeners to begin praying a prayer to life—how can I live each day for the greater good? How can I best impact my life? My family’s life? The lives of my neighbors? I think praying a prayer of life is one of the best things we can be doing right now. In a time where we don’t have a clear next step, how could praying a prayer of life change how we are using these days of social distancing?
I wonder what my life would have looked like in college if I had been praying a prayer to life. I wonder what doors God could have helped me open if my mind and soul had been focused on using my time in the best way for his kingdom. I wonder if I would look back on that last night on campus and think of more blessings than regrets. I bet I would’ve talked until the sun rose with my roommates like I want to do so badly now.
I think a prayer to life is how to end a cycle of regrets. It’s how to stop wasting God-given time. It’s how to not look at the past and mourn for what has been lost. It’s how to use each breath of our present moments for a greater purpose. It’s how our messed-up schedules and extra time at home can be used for something beautiful for us and our families.
For me, a prayer to life means I don’t miss any more chances to sit in someone’s presence. It means I don’t hit snooze, I don’t choose screens over faces, I don’t choose my room over the backyard. It means I don’t sit and wallow over what life “should” have been like if I was still on campus, but rather realize how beautiful life is now.
COVID-19 has flipped our world upside down, but I think it can be for the better if we know how to use this time wisely. I urge us all to pray a prayer of life, asking God to guide our actions to make this new normal the best it can be. I am so hopeful of what the kingdom of God could look like when we re-enter our routines and workplaces if we take this time to really sit, be still, and live a life pleasing to him.
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18, 19, NLT).
Kaitlin Lewis is a sophomore at the University of Dayton, where she is studying journalism. She loves being involved in the mission of @overcrowdheaven.