Unstable and Fluid…
What do you write about when everything around you seems to be shifting. The things that are supposed to be stable have suddenly become unstable and fluid? If you’re reading this ‘in real time’ then you know what I’m talking about: Coronavirus or COVID-19. So, do I choose to ignore the reality of the general cloud of fear and caution that’s enveloping our society right now or do I give in and write about it? After all, what do I have to say? How could writing about it be a help? Isn’t it just feeding into the crazy and uncertain feelings that are swirling all around?
Well, I’m not sure. I debated back and forth about whether or not to address it and I landed on going ahead and writing about it. I mean, the blog is often read in real time. Not to mention that I’ve chosen to write this blog about ‘the things I ponder’ and right now I’m pondering Coronavirus. I feel like I’m getting a new update or a new email every hour! I find myself incessantly checking my email to see if there’s been yet another update. If there isn’t one I’m left with a funny feeling of being alone. (I was home alone this afternoon, so there wasn’t anyone to reflect with on this face to face.) It seems like there’s been so much ‘connection’ due to the many updates that the lack of them almost feels ominous and isolating!
Then there are the times when, YES, I get an update email! I click to open it up and what do I see? Another way that my life is going to be changing immediately. These changes are not by my choice, but by the institutions that lead in certain areas of my life. So, when I see a new change, my mind starts mentally making adjustments to my upcoming routine and with each new change it opens my mind to seeing yet another possible area of change that might be coming down the line. It feels really strange. In some ways it’s reminiscent of other times in my life when things changed without my control, but I’m not going to go in that direction for this post.
So, where does all this leave me? What am I supposed to do? How do I manage what’s happening? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Sometimes, I think the answer isn’t to worry. Other times I think it’s to throw caution to the wind! I mean, after all, I’m young and strong and so are my kids. We have nothing to worry about! Oh wait… my mom and in-laws and even some of my students are in the age range that’s being more negatively affected by this virus. I don’t like that. I don’t want them to be sick.
What about discussing travel with my friends? I had a thought just last week while discussing travel with a friend, ‘Well, sure! Go on the trip! Even if you get sick, many people are recovering’ Then immediately I remembered that this friend is immune compromised and now I think of yet another friend who is also in the same boat. These are friends my age who have had to go through enormous health struggles and life changes already! I find myself thinking about them and how this could affect them. I don’t like this. I don’t want them to get sick.
I guess, there’s no easy answer of what or how to think about all that’s shifting and unsure in the country and world right now. But, taking the time to actually think about the different people in my life and their unique situations is bringing more compassion and understanding to my mind. I can see how for some of us, it’s just another illness, but to others it’s actually really scary. That’s not easy. I don’t like thinking about that. It causes me to worry.
The Extreme of Fear…
Due to my past propensity to instantly live in fear, I recognize well when it starts to creep back in. I feel the inner panic start to well up and then I put a lid on it by ignoring the news coverage. I feel the ‘what-ifs’ start to speak and I fight against them by down-playing the losses that others have suffered. Both of these are extremes that I go to in order NOT to go to the other extreme of fear. But is there another way?
Why don’t I want to look at the bad side of this thing? For me, it’s the icky feelings that come with it. I feel sad that there has been a loss of life around the world. I feel heartbroken that sick people are being seen almost like outcasts and anyone who might be associated with the sick, through appearance or nationality, are also being seen that way (by some, not all). I feel confused. I don’t have enough information to have clarity of what this illness is like. I haven’t seen it up close and personal. I just don’t know. There are a lot of questions and uncertainty.
Inside, I label these feelings ‘bad’ because I don’t like the way I feel when I experience them, but a feeling is just a feeling. It’s not good or bad. A feeling can help me sort through what’s really going on in my mind and heart. A feeling can move me to a greater level of compassion and understanding. A feeling can motivate me to encourage those around me who are in a similar situation as me; what do I do and how do I respond?
The Answer of Jesus & Peace…
The only response I can have is to turn to Jesus. I know, I know, everyone is saying that. Well, why is everyone saying that? Because it’s TRUE! Jesus is my PEACE. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace!
Through Jesus Christ ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [my] heart and [my] mind.’ (Phillipians 4:7 ESV) When the fears come against my heart and my mind, I can call out to Jesus and His peace will come as a guard! I don’t know how it happens – it surpasses all understanding, including my own. I don’t need to know how it happens, I just need to trust. I need to rest in the One who is called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
And so, in the turmoil of things being everchanging, I choose Peace over fear. And if I feel myself heading towards fear again, I’ll make another choice for Jesus and Peace. Over and Over until it’s settled into my heart and my mind. I choose Jesus. Who or what will you choose?