Hard times, new beginnings

Hard times, new beginnings

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

I know. The news is terrible, isn’t it? Goodyear is leaving. The people in our community are sad, mad, discouraged, hurt and wondering what will happen next. It’s kind of like when a pilot says, “It looks like we’ve lost power and we’re goin’ down.” There’s always the thought, “Will all of us be casualties? Is there something we could do now that would make our survival more likely?”
I don’t know anything about surviving a plane crash and I know even less about how a community survives a massive economic downturn. But there are a few things I do know. I know that trials often produce good results. I know that suffering is never without purpose. I know that hard times cause people to pull together. This is not a sappy attempt to tell those most affected by the closing, “Stop crying. Take my hand. It’ll be alright.” No. It’s gonna be hard. Terribly hard. For some of you, it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced. But I don’t think it’s the end of our wonderful community.
Many of you remember a column I wrote about Enterprise, Ala. In the middle of the courthouse square, they have a statue of a boll weevil. A long time ago the boll weevil came in and utterly destroyed their cotton crop. The boll weevil laid waste to it all. The community felt hopeless and financially broken. Yet now they honor the boll weevil with its own statue. Why? After the cotton was destroyed, they planted peanuts and peanuts provided far more prosperity for their area than cotton had. Would they have planted peanuts if the cotton crop had not been destroyed by the boll weevil? Of course not.
I don’t know the future of northwest Tennessee. I don’t own a crystal ball and if I did own one, I wouldn’t understand how to use it. Only God knows the future, the good and the bad. But I do know the people of this community. I have experienced your kindness, your generosity, your faith in God and your desire to help each other. Your Christian faith and your love for each other won’t make all the problems go away. But it will make them a lot easier to handle. Yes, there will be a negative “trickle down” effect because Goodyear is closing. Everyone knows that. But that doesn’t mean the sky is falling. The sky is still … well, in the sky.  
My family and I have been watching “The Waltons” on DVD. Their lives were simple and yet so rich. There were times the entire family of 11 had no more than $3 or $4. Some of you remember those times well. Hard times. Lean times. But like the Waltons, many of the older people in our community would testify to the sweetness of that time in American history. They lived simply in daily dependence on God for everything they had. It was a life that sparked ingenuity, humility, gardening, sharing, prayer and hospitality. Don’t get me wrong. I wish Goodyear would keep operating. I’m sure every person reading this wishes the same. But Goodyear or no Goodyear, I’m proud to be part of this wonderful community. I know you are too. So grieve your losses without giving up hope. It’s always darkest just before the dawn.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 2.16.11

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