What’s a Karen to do?

Today someone asked me what it was like to be named Karen at a time when that name has become synonymous with women who have a reputation of complaining to the manager. Apparently, my name has slipped in popularity from #4 the year of my birth to #1784 in 2021. Almost one-third of that loss occurred in the past year.

There are some things that are beyond our control.

I’ve contemplated going by the initial K, or perhaps adopting an arcane sign as an homage to Prince. Mostly I’ve learned to live with it. Sure, it’s not ideal, and I’d be fibbing if I told you I wasn’t looking forward to the time when this was all memory, but it is what it is. 

We do this, don’t we? We assess what is beyond our control and we move beyond it. We ask God for the wisdom to know what is ours to work on and what is not, and we do the best we can with the hand we’ve been dealt. 

It’s not just what we decide to do that matters, however. It’s also why and how we do it.

As a Karen™, I could reinforce the image of my brand and yell at those who poke fun at my name. I could opt to absolutely ignore it and go with my middle name (although when I changed that from Ruth to Cronenberger, I killed that option). Or I could figure out ways to live with it. I’ve chosen this option (although I do reserve the right to complain when it is warranted!).

The rise of the Delta variant suggests we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were supposed to have a summer of easing back into our communities followed by a fall season that looked more like 2019 than 2020. We’ve planned family vacations, choir anthems, and have stocked our shelves with coffee for fellowship hour. We are ready to return – desperately ready.

Some things are beyond our control…. but we do have some ability (and responsibility) to choose how we respond. 

This is not the same as last year. Then we had a bit more clarity about what needed to be done. This time around it seems there is less agreement about expectations and willingness to tolerate risk. Some of our congregations have plans in place to return to virtual worship once a particular threshold is met, others plan to continue with hybrid worship for the foreseeable future. Some congregations are ready to live with it. Each community makes choices based on their own specific context and risk tolerance levels.

My prayer is that the conversations and debates that we are having around pandemic strategies occur at a level deeper than discussing which windows we leave open. What we do and how we do it says so much about who (and Whose) we are. As you look back on the last 16 months, what have you learned about the values of your congregation? What has surprised you? What would you change? What have your actions said about your congregation’s priorities? What would your neighborhood say about your congregation during this time?

There are always things beyond our control, and at the same time there are always things you can control.Focus on the latter before you complain to the manager.

If it would be helpful to talk things through – I’m back from vacation on August 16th. You remain in my prayers.

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