Our (LOOOCKDOWN) Stories
Payton Brogna – Young Company
End Of Lockdown
Will We Accept?
Before it was first announced that we were to be quarantined in our homes, I was anticipating the best few months of my entire life. I was in the midst of rehearsing for a show that I was extremely excited to do, and, most importantly, I was planning to convert to Catholicism at the Easter Vigil. I remember counting down the days with my family and friends as I anticipated the best day of my life. The days went on, my big day was getting closer and closer, but suddenly everything changed. Businesses shut down, friends were canceling plans, and the world seemed to have completely stopped.
I did not know what things being stuck in my house would change, but I sure did not anticipate the news that my journey to entering the Church was on hold. That was the one thing I had placed all of my confidence in. I had been waiting for that moment for my entire life. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to think. I did not have the right words to speak about how I felt. It felt unreal that something that could only bring about good could be completely wiped away in an instant. By what? Others people’s fears? In relation to following Jesus Christ fears do not matter, so many people died for Christ who died for us. No fear should be greater than the fear of not following Jesus but I was being told that I had to wait even though that means everything I was taught didn’t make sense. There had to be a way of ‘safely’ entering the church but no one seemed to care to find it. I spent more time in prayer than ever before, which I know is good, but I still had the question of “what now?” at the front of my mind. My prayer was answered and I did enter the church! But I will only say it was the greatest moment of my life. God blessed me to be able to do this and I’ll never take that for granted. Only after this can I tell the rest of the story.
I would be lying if I said that I encountered this all fearless. When I found out that there were cases just 10 minutes from my house, I almost wanted to stay inside regardless of any rule. I knew my home was the place I was to feel safe and calm, but I struggled to maintain that feeling when my family feared more than I did. My Mom made sure I washed my hands clean after previously being somewhere, and hand sanitizer was placed in my bag to take with me wherever I went.
It started in March yet by the beginning of May, we were still home. This time, I could leave my house, but only to find people wearing masks that stole away their smile. In the middle of May, it was my sixteenth birthday. The birthday party that had been planned since I was little, and that I was beyond excited for, disappeared. As if no time had passed at all, the day came that my brother was supposed to graduate from highschool, but my family and I were still home. Graduation, too, was canceled.
I found myself quite frequently saying the words “I wish” or ‘if only.” I had such big plans this spring. I was anticipating moments that I would cherish forever. I would constantly try to avoid the feeling of disappointment, but it seemed to linger in the back of my mind 24/7. I could not help but think of all of the good things I should have been doing. I sat home trying to be grateful that my family and I were given more time to be together, and I noticed the little things. Little things like the house always being clean because we had nothing better to do, my dog being taken on the most walks of his life, and an extreme growth in my coffee intake. I truthfully noticed a lot, but I knew I was missing something. It did not feel right to assume I had nothing to do or had no obligation. I could not sit home with my brother who was supposed to be finishing his senior year and still believe that something good could ever come out of this. I felt no obligation to ask my friends what they were doing or how they were because I thought that I knew the answer. I tried to avoid thinking that this could possibly change me, but I knew deep down that I did not have the right attitude to do anything about it. I feared all of this would negatively draw me away from God if I did not consciously face it with positivity(hope).
I finally made a decision, I stopped to think about everything I was missing out on, and my friends and family that I had longed to see. I thought about the times in my life when I had taken things for granted…things as small as a hug, or as important as Church. Though it was difficult at first to change my perspective, I knew there had to be something good that could come out of all of this in my life.
With time, and when I entered the Church, my perspective changed. What was I to fear? We are only given so much time on this earth, and I was sitting in my home, on my phone, with the news channel blaring in the background that was bringing more fear into my home than I needed. I learned that if I am living in fear, I am not truly living. I have gone through my life riding in a car, taking an airplane, riding my bike… all things that never guarantee safety. I was never promised my life in any of those situations, but I still put myself there. I am given a life that I am to live to the fullest. I am not living my life the way God had planned by not going to church. I was not going out and enjoying God’s gifts, and I was even restricted from putting the gifts God has given me to use. I have deeply realized that tomorrow is never promised. I must live every day as if it could be my last…jump at every opportunity given, cherish the moments I spend with my loved ones, and enjoy the world around me. Life is worth truly living…it is deserved of so much more worth than I have given it during this time. I must not fear about what should come in the future, when my future is determined by what I do right now. Fear does not, cannot, and will never conquer faith. As my family and I started to make sense of that, this “lockdown” was not as bad as it used to be. It was time to reconnect with the people in my life for real. The only person I could give my gratitude to for ultimately letting me live my life, is my Mom. If it were not for her determination, beliefs, and guidance, I would not have the mindset to make any good come out of this, and I would not be able to put my beliefs into actions. My Dad made sure that every moment at home was extremely memorable, my brother kept the house and our lives from getting the slightest bit boring, and my whole family refused to let me lose my determination to see the good.
I have also learned this: Time was taken out of my life for me to grow. I was given time to grow in my wisdom and my beliefs so that I can come back into the world I left stronger than ever. I was given time to better myself. When so much was taken from me, I truly realized that I was only left with my family, my friends, and God. I was given time to mend relationships and to mature my viewpoint on things I never understood. If I walk away from everything that happened feeling, speaking, or doing the same as before, I did not recognize the gifts that this lockdown could have given me. By seeing the positives of this situation, I have no excuse to not grow from this with a beam of light shining on me as I walk out of my home a better person. I was given so much time for improvement. I refuse to allow people to have lost the spark they once faced the world as we knew it with. I must only encourage that spark to grow. Pondering on the things that I have lost, I am more grateful than ever before, more appreciative of the opportunities I have been given, and more motivated to walk in line with Truth and do good. I hope to see the gifts I have been given as pure gifts from God that do not deserve irreverence. From this day forward, I pray that I may never take anything for granted. I never want to see a gift as anything less. I want to carry out every single wish or desire I had during quarantine, and face this world as if it is a new start. I want to face the world with a much more positive outlook on life.
During my time apart from the world, I have learned of the many opportunities I have never allowed myself to be open to. There is always something new to learn, and something new to teach to others. I hope to share some portion of what I learned to everyone that crosses my path, and to never think negatively of this time in my life. I am extremely looking forward to soaking in absolutely every moment in my life to come. I will never hug anyone again without love, gratitude, and appreciation that they, too, no longer fear. I realized all of the things that were worth dying for. I will never have a conversation face to face with someone without the appreciation that I can finally see them smile. I will never walk into church without the knowledge that at one point in my life, I was not allowed, and the gratitude that I am now. I cannot wait to dive into a story and perform it on a stage for people to enjoy. I can not wait to hold hands as we bow at the end of a show, proving to the world that we are no longer afraid. I am looking forward to cherishing every single moment.
We are always given an opportunity to be better, we just never take the time to truly accept it. We all are being given a chance to be better right here, right now. Will we accept?