You and I are navigating uncharted territory, aren’t we? Our lives went from orderly to disorderly within a matter of days. Words like COVID-19, pandemic and coronavirus are quickly becoming part of our vocabulary whether we want them to be or not.
For some the new normal has become social distancing, self-quarantining, homeschooling, working from home, and caring for our elderly parents. Perhaps you feel like an air traffic controller, quickly solving problems while trying to keep your planes (life) in the air and safe. I get it. I do too.
Comments like “It will get worse before it gets better” are enough to turn your stomach into knots! So what do we do now?
It’s important for us to replace our fear with facts, faith, and fortitude. Let me explain.
Wisdom is our friend. We must get facts before we make decisions or take any action with regard to this virus. We should be informed, but be wary of being inundated with half-truths.
Here are some important things to remember:
- Not everything we hear is true and not everyone is worth listening so we must be selective. Too much of something isn’t always the best. Who are you listening to? Your neighbor? 24 -hour news? Social media? We must always question the source. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are some of the best and most reliable sources of information.
- Not everyone is at equal risk. Trustworthy sources tell us that it is the population over the age of 60, those with preexisting conditions, and those with weakened immunities that should be the most cognizant of their risks. And, the healthy can help protect the more at risk by limiting our own exposure to infected people. No, this is not the seasonal flu. Yes, it is 10x more deadly. We should be careful, but not fearful.
- This will pass. COVID-19 didn’t come to stay. This is a bell curve situation. The outbreaks will spike, through isolation and quarantine they will even out, and they will eventually die out.
- We will be able to fix this “problem” and the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Problems will always be a part of life. This will not be the end of this world.
Leaning into the promises of God during troubling times like these are what sustains me. If I cease to proclaim my faith, fear wins and I lose. When I feel myself getting anxious, I ask myself two questions:
- “Where is my focus — on the Lord or on the waves?” (Matthew 8:23-28)
- “Am I giving more thoughts to the virus or to the sovereignty of the Lord?” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
While news and updates about COVID-19 are changing rapidly, I can focus on what is unchanging.
- God sees everything (Hebrews 4:13)
- God cares about me (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- God has infinite power (Psalm 147:4-5)
- God will never stop loving me (Psalm 109:26)
- God always acts out of His goodness to me (Psalm 145:9)
- God’s plan is always better (Proverbs 16:9)
I will be a witness for peace and comfort through my faith. I will replace my panic with prayer, my worry with worship, and my anxiety with adoration. I will also hold steadfastly to these promises:
- No matter what I go through, God will go through it with me (Joshua 1:9)
- I’ll never be alone (Joshua 1:5)
- I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future (Jeremiah 29:11)
- This is not the end of the story (Phillipians 3:20)
The definition of fortitude is courage in pain or in adversity. I love this quote by Robert Schuller: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Tough people who survive do so because they have learned to reach positivity in their predicament and they tend to manage their problems creatively. I want to be tough in times like this and I want to do it creatively. I hope you do too.
Believing what is most negative and fighting against the positive seems to come easy for some. Contrary to what many believe, the sky is not falling due to COVID-19 and this is not the end. Resources are available to us, professionals are giving us instructions on what we should and should not do (and we should take these very seriously), and testing kits are now in stock. I’m choosing to believe that the situation is better than it looks. I hope you’ll choose to believe this too.
To be an optimist doesn’t mean you’re a Pollyanna. Optimists believe that problems can be solved (and diseases can be eradicated). Pollyanna’s believe that everything is peachy. COVID-19 isn’t peachy, but it can and will be eradicated.
The mind is our biggest battleground. It’s the place where the strongest conflict resides and wars can rage. And with COVID-19 occupying so much of our attention, we need now more than ever, to keep ourselves in check.
Life is not perfect. Bad things happen. The question for us is this: How will we respond to the hand we’ve been dealt? We have two choices: we can either focus on what we lack, what could happen, our uncomfortable “new normal”, the threat to our finances and the economy as a whole OR we can feel empowered to make the very best of every situation and outcome as it arises, even when it’s heartbreaking and hard to accept.
While we can’t control what’s happening in the world around us, we can control how we choose to respond. This is where courage (fortitude) comes into play and where the power is!
Let’s make better choices
We can choose how we spend our time in the days and weeks ahead. We can choose optimism, gratitude, and grace. We can choose whom we spend time with — and perhaps more importantly, whom we don’t (social distancing). We can choose who we will listen to and what we will believe. We can choose to love and appreciate the people in our lives for exactly who they are (not what we want them to be). And while we’re at it, we can choose to love and appreciate ourselves, too.
Perhaps most importantly, we can choose to think better about our present circumstances and let go of what we can’t control, so we can consciously make the best of what’s ahead of us.
Hurting for the lonely, depressed, and anxious is almost worse for me than the disturbing news about the virus itself. Instead of leaning in we are to lean out to the world. I believe we are called to help others through this crisis. Here are some creative things you and I can do:
- We can deliver Care Kits to those that are at high risk. We can fill a box with groceries and other necessities and drop it at their door with no or low contact.
- Those at high risk can be a Care Caller instead. This means picking up the phone and calling someone who is housebound. Isolation is not a good thing. We all need social contact, so picking up the phone can be the next best thing. “Do you need help?”, “How can I give it?”, “Do you have prayer needs?” are all great questions to ask. This, in essence, is fellowship over the phone!
- Food pantries are in need of food! While this idea may not be as creative as the other two, it’s equally important! Grocery stores that usually donate some of their stock have been stripped bare. Please consider donating some of your canned goods and non-perishable items to help those in need.
You and I are in this together. We are never alone. These times are an opportunity for us to be the light to those in a dark place.
Friend, I would be honored to be a source of light for you if you need it. Just say the word and I will be there for you.