By Kirk Walden
Fourteen years ago, during a trip to Florida, Jenn and I had a few hours to kill. We strolled into a non-descript mall (I wonder if it is still there) in a small town and wandered, waiting to go out to dinner.
In a store I don’t remember was a simple piece of word-art, suitable for placing on a bookshelf or a fireplace mantle (which is where it sits today—on top of my fake fireplace in my office). The word? “Imagine.”
For the life of me, I don’t remember what attracted us to that one word. We were newly married (six months), so perhaps we were in the honeymoon phase of thinking of everything as a new adventure. Funny thing is, we still think this way today.
While we get knocked down by life like everyone else, we at least try to face any situation by imagining the possibilities instead of immediately overwhelming ourselves with worst-case scenarios. We’re not perfect. We worry at times like anyone else, but we do try.
This pandemic of course, gives all of us a chance to choose either to worry, or to imagine.
For Jenn and me—along with many of you—this Saturday will mark our seventh week in quarantine. For those of us in Tennessee, the lock down is coming to an end. Restaurants began opening dining areas this week at half capacity, and in time we will all venture out more.
With some fits and starts along the way, we’ve used this time to imagine. For one, a book I’ve contemplated writing for a few years is now turning to words on a page.
Second, Jenn and I launched The Faith Revolution Podcast, where we’re challenging ourselves to simplify our faith, making faith more comfortable and accessible to anyone, any time. It’s a fun project, and we rolled out our first episode last week.
Of course, the best recent example of “Imagine” was Heartbeat International’s recent conference. When the 2020 Vision Conference—scheduled for Seattle—suddenly went “poof” and disappeared, the Heartbeat International leadership could have hunkered down, shrugged its collective shoulders and said, “What can ‘ya do?”
Instead, the word “Re-Imagine” took over, and Heartbeat staff, workshop presenters and speakers re-doubled their efforts. The result? The largest and arguably the most wildly successful conference in Heartbeat’s history.
Which leads to a question: “What is an action point for each of us—in our individual pregnancy help organizations—which can empower us to imagine effectively as we face the future?”
Fun fact: None of us knows the future.
But, three more facts:
First, each day we gain new data regarding our client situations and needs.
Second, we’re exploring alternative methods for delivery of care, some of which may be successful even after we find our normal again.
Third? Pregnancy Help Organizations are staffed by “Can Do” team members. Frankly, unless “Can Do” is part of our DNA, we won’t last long in this work. This Can-Do attitude gives us a leg up on those who oppose our work.
With these three facts in mind, an idea for every pregnancy help organization: If we haven’t already, let’s pull our team together. Whether virtually or in person, let’s brainstorm what we’re learning through this pandemic, and what we can imagine or re-imagine going forward.
In these meetings, let’s toss aside budget concerns and dream. After all, the budget will always be there, but time to dream can be hard to find. Let’s consider possibilities and ways we can come out of this pandemic stronger, more viable and yes, more essential to the communities we serve. Be bold enough to place every idea on the table.
In a meeting like this, there are no “bad ideas” or “I don’t think we can do that” moments. Because even if one of us puts forth a silly idea, we never know when one simple tweak can turn a silly idea into a game-changer.
Yes, this is an incredibly challenging time for pregnancy help organizations, as it is for everyone.
But perhaps, this is our best opportunity to open our “Imagination Station,” a place where we consider what can be. If we do, we may find fewer limits, more possibilities, and a future better than we can . . . imagine.
Editor’s note. This appeared April 30 at Pregnancy Help News.