Justin Ricklefs


A Gentle Reminder to Wake Us Up

“Just leaving the house sorry bro”

I sent that text, without proper punctuation, at 6:26am yesterday. 12 minutes away from a coffee meeting that started in 4 minutes.

I have a buddy. That’s too loose a term really, more like a blood brother. You know, the ones you forged on the playground in 5th grade in Umbro shorts and a No Fear t-shirt.

We’ve walked together. We’ve talked about those journeys. He’s understood my joy and pain. And me, his.

6:38am. I roll into our meeting spot, which happens to be an office we share together too.

We chit chat. Talk about COVID-19. Pontificate on the panic. And start the coffee. Actually, he already had it brewing.

This blood brother of mine, and me, we’ve learned, oftentimes the hard way, that we’re not in control of much. I’d long to be. It feels safer when I’m under the illusion of control. My ego says anyway.

So instead of resisting that, we gather once a week to talk, process, and pray.

6:47am. We take our unassigned yet same seats. Me on the couch. Him in the chair across from me. Coffee between us.

“Ah…let me pray to get us going,” he said.

“Yeah dude, of course…”

He began. His prayer had some questions. Some doubts. Some worries. Some what-ifs and will you’s.

And then, “God…in the midst of all this…show us you’re good…”

Right on cue, as if it were a joke in a poorly written Christian movie…

A giant, unmistakable, soul-rattling, explosion of sorts.

I’ve never heard a bomb go off but it would have sounded something like this.

I know we were just praying to God, but my thought was a legit WTF.

We both hustled to the front. We have this big, beautiful glass storefront type look to our office. Three giant windows, then a glass door next to them.

I’m terrible at construction stuff, but the windows are probably 10-12 feet high and 4-5 feet wide.

The explosion sound?

The middle pane. Glass everywhere. Shattered in a million little pieces.

I assumed the worst, naturally, and looked outside to see who threw a rock or shot a gun.

Pitch dark. No one near.

WTF is happening. Our big ass window just broke for no reason.


Still needing coffee, we started figuring out what to do. Brooms, shop vacs, moved furniture.

“Well, at least it’s going well at work,” I texted Brooke.

“What the hell is happening…”

Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks for us. And I’d imagine, for you too.

The panic. The alarm. The paranoia. The uncertainty. The lack of answers. The videos. The talking heads. The incessant stream of content with headlines that scare the living sh** out of us. The absolutely unending checking and checking again and reading and scrolling and swirling out of control.

After the window got boarded up and the workday concluded, I went home.

Heavy-hearted if I’m honest. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Anxious.

When I spiral, it’s not pretty.

Anger rises up. Anxiety starts taking hold. Shame moves in. My head gets hot. My chest, tight. My temper, short. My logic, out the window. My heart, cold.

For me, I’ve learned lots about what’s best in these situations. And it’s not to continue in the amped up, panic state.

I need:

  • To breathe. Deeply.
  • Eat real food. Or drink green juice.
  • Slow down.
  • Not drink alcohol.
  • Turn off the device.
  • Quit reading news and read a real book.
  • Pray.
  • Breathe again.
  • Move my body.

So that night, I went for a run. After raising my voice to Brooke, making shitty sarcastic (a cover up for my fear) comments at dinner with our kids, and slamming a kitchen cabinet door.


I’ve been running a lot lately. To blow through this anxiety and to build a daily routine that helps me instead of letting my ego and instincts take over.

Some runs are me and my silence.

Most runs, though, are with AirPods and Headspace. Or a podcast.

That night, it was Rich Roll. I probably have too much of a man crush on him, but I devour his stuff, and he just launched a coronavirus podcast.

Basically, the opposite of panic and paranoia.

His wife was his guest, Julie.

I’ll let you listen to the show and make your own decisions, but their conversation was fascinating. It involved expansion, perspective, acceptance, suffering, love, and our shared human connection through this ordeal.

And this consideration that maybe we’re actually going through an awakening of sorts. Or a “gentle reminder” as Julie called it.

A gentle reminder to wake us up.

From our distractions. From our addictions. From our vices to numb our pain. From our busyness. From our focus on money and power and success. From our devices. From our over-commitments. From our stress. From our isolation. From our anger. From our disconnection. From our ego. From our slumber.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I hit the halfway point of my run. The spot where I turn around. And breathe.

I turned around to this.

Maybe this is an awakening. A terrifying, uncertain, dark, scary yet gentle reminder to wake us up.

Where families can actually spend time together instead of intend to.

Eat dinner at the table instead of in the car, on the way to the next thing.

Where books can be written.

Where marriages can be healed.

Where businesses can be united and rise to the challenge.

Where amends can be made.

Where people can turn to God, in their fear, asking if he’s good.

And then he’ll answer with a broken window. Or a global pandemic. Or paranoia. Or a stormy sea. Or a loved one who dies. Or a relationship that feels too far gone. Or an addiction that seems unbreakable.

It will feel misleading and cruel, but maybe…maybe it’s the exact, gentle reminder we need…

For an awakening. A gentle reminding.

One that feels stormy. And dark. And scary. And abnormal. And uncertain. And unsettled. And like a bomb just went off when you thought everything was at peace.

And through all of this, I have to believe there’s a loving purpose to the chaos. It’s what I’m banking on.

Stay safe friends.

And stay awake.

Follow My Blog to Get the Daily Story

Copyright © 2023 Justin Ricklefs. All Rights Reserved.