A couple of months ago, my three-year-old started asking my husband and me to describe our emotions using basic words like happy, sad, or mad. If we showed the slightest change in attitude, we heard the questions, “Are you happy? Are you sad?”
It’s a simple way for her to gauge the atmosphere around her, but if we don’t answer with, “Yes, I’m happy,” it may queue tears or even a full meltdown. Most of the time, this string of questions doesn’t bother me and for the first week, it even made me laugh. But over the past few days since this global pandemic started, I’ve restrained myself from yelling, “I’m all of them!”
Perhaps you can relate? My emotions have ranged from sadness to anger, from fear to calm, sometimes in a matter of minutes. With social media, television and the internet bombarded second by second with the latest news, it’s often difficult to know what to believe, what to feel, or even how to respond.
When facing an unprecedented crisis of global proportions, where do we find peace? Is peace even possible? I believe it is, but it is a moment-by-moment practice. As I navigate weeks of unexpected cancellations, social distancing, and unwanted isolation, here are a few things that are keeping me sane.
Admit the hard.
Faith does not mean living in a hole or denying what we’re feeling. It means making a conscious decision to look to God in the midst of it. If you’re scared, tell him and tell someone you trust. If you’re at your wits end after a hard day of homeschooling your people when you’ve never homeschooled a day in your life, acknowledge it and give yourself grace.
God doesn’t expect a healthy spiritual walk to mean living in denial about what we’re going through. But he does expect us to communicate with him.
“I call to you in times of trouble, because you will answer me.”
Limit your intake of social media and/ or news.
Yes, we need to stay informed. As believers, we have a responsibility to know what is going on in our community and our world. But we do not need to consume the constant torrent of information 24/7. Not only can it contribute to anxiety, but it does not give us space to breathe and get still before God.
Each of us knows our limits for how much news and information we can take. Let’s honor those limits, and remember if we need a break, the news will still be there when we’re ready to consume it.
Extend grace to yourself and others, and remember each person processes crisis in his or her own way.
I am a person who has to find humor when chaos hits. This does not mean that I’m not taking the situation seriously, but laughing helps me stay sane. However, since this pandemic started, I’ve come across people who will not crack a smile, others who think it’s a conspiracy, and still others who are apathetic about the whole thing.
Some people’s attitudes about it made me flat out angry, while others made me grief-stricken or scared. As I navigate these emotions, I also must realize these days we’re navigating are new for everyone. No one knows what’s next or what the future holds, and most of us are doing the best we can. Let’s extend grace to those whose reaction may look different than our own, but remember as a church we are called to be united in love for each other.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. “
Friends, as I write this, I would be foolish to turn a blind eye to the fact that there will be hard days ahead. God did not promise us an easy life, but he did promise to be with us. He promised us victory in the end, and that he will use whatever mess we go through for our ultimate good.
I know it may be difficult to believe that right now, but it’s true. Let’s hold each other up during these days of hardship and remember prayer is our weapon and our defense.
While the enemy would have us believe otherwise, we are not defenseless, friends. Our story is not one defeat. Take a queue from the Italians who are in quarantine, and lift up your voices. He will hear your call, and he will answer.