I’m already starting to see lists of “overused words and phrases” from this year’s coronavirus pandemic. Among them are “new normal,” “social distancing” and “unprecedented.”
The other day, I was talking to my sister about another big change that had come into my life, and she said, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to pivot! That’s what they’re all saying right now.”
The concept of “pivot” comes from the corporate world. In “Pivot is the trendy new word of the business class,” the author describes it this way:
[W]hat does “pivot” mean? It means, in the sense here as a verb, to turn. In the sense of the Grand Pivot with COVID, it means to turn or “pivot” away from shutdowns, closed doors and slow business to a new environment where there will be more business, more customers and more interaction with the public.
During this season, turning away from old methods and embracing new ones is imperative for many businesses to survive. For example, I’ve seen many restaurants in my city up their takeout, curbside and drive-thru game during the pandemic. Some have even managed to increase their business by quickly adapting to the challenges and creating solutions.
While this concept may have started in the business world, I am hearing more and more people talk about it in a more personal context. The idea seems to be about adjusting to change and bouncing back from obstacles. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do this during the past several months as I’ve encountered one change after another, both in the world and in my personal life.
Friends have moved. Colleagues have left their jobs. Marriages have dissolved. I’m feeling a little bit like Anne of Green Gables busybody Rachel Lynde, who famously said: “You’re never safe from being surprised until you’re dead.” Some weeks I’ve had to “pivot” a dizzying number of times.
As an optimist, I resonate with the idea of adapting to change and making the best of it. One author put it this way:
In some ways, it’s like saying you have to suck it up. You have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to adjust your expectations. But it’s also an active suggestion, not passive. It implies doing something to make the situation a bit better.
The thing is, I am learning that you can’t always make the situation better. A good “pivot” only gets you by for so long. When you suffer blow after blow, loss after loss and change after change, you eventually get tired of conjuring up optimism. When the door is always slamming shut, you become weary of looking for the open window.
As trendy as “pivot” is, I can think of a few other words that may be more helpful to believers during this time:
Christians shouldn’t be surprised when things go wrong. Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). When life seems to be falling apart, I can have peace in Jesus, who is greater than the world. I don’t have to turn all my lemons into lemonade. Instead, I can trust that God is in control and orchestrating the details of my life.
Endurance is not something I often have to practice. In fact, when a series of troubles come, I tend to get annoyed that things aren’t falling into place. But one of God’s goals for His followers is that we would learn how to persevere through trials. Romans 5:3-5 says
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
While at times pivoting away from problems may be helpful, sometimes we must simply persevere. Enduring through problems breeds character and ultimately hope that comes from God.
So far, my experience with “pivot” has felt exhausting. It’s problem-solving on overdrive. As I try to field every change or discouragement that comes my way and look for a way to make the situation “a bit better,” I find myself coming up short and feeling even more inadequate.
As any of you athletic types may know, on the basketball court a pivot is where the player holding the ball keeps one foot on the ground, then uses the other foot to rotate his or her body to improve their position. That’s a great visual of being proactive when life turns sour. However, I feel the picture Jesus provides is less labor-intensive.
He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
As our world continues to experience disruptive fires, politics and a now months-long pandemic, “pivot” may be the word of the hour. But while it’s comforting to think I somehow have control over the curveballs that come my way, my own efforts to establish happiness and joy will always fall short. Hope and peace come from God. Only as I trust Him, endure hardship and rest in Jesus, can I find true contentment in my circumstances, whatever they may be.
Copyright 2020 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.