What is COVID-19? Where did the virus start? What are the symptoms of the virus? How many people have died because of the virus? When will the virus end? What does “shelter in place” mean? What if we run out of food? What is martial law? These are a few of the most searched Google questions surrounding Coronavirus.There are more questions than answers at this point, and with each passing day, things continue to look grimmer and out of our control.
Phrases like “social distancing” and “why are people buying all the toilet paper?” have become our new normal. A cough at the grocery store causes people to shudder and jump.
Just a moment ago, we were casually viewing some little known virus causing friction someplace in China that we had never heard of. The next moment, you are asked to stay at home, take your kids out of school, work from home if you’re lucky, and sit quietly as the world and our nation slowly grinds to a frightening halt.
It feels if we were watching our favorite TV show and it abruptly changed channels to something dark and disturbing, and we suddenly realized the remote is lost and the channel is unchangeable.
Regardless of your views on the severity of the virus, how the government is handling the situation, what happened in Wuhan, or what you believe needs to be happening right now, life, as we know it, has changed. Our reality is not the same as it was just a month, two weeks, or even five days ago. This is uncharted territory. You have every right to feel confused, nervous, scared, and stupefied. The question becomes, “What now?”
For a number of people, this split in our reality has meant a job evaporating overnight, and children being pulled from school and asked to complete their academics under the tutelage of nervous parents.
It means there are moms and dads hiding in closets to avoid the noise of screaming kids so they can attend their conference calls. It means going to the grocery store and seeing empty shelves. It means people who had their retirement wrapped up in the stock market are looking at depleted statements. It means our little ones are asking questions we can’t answer. It means life has changed.
So what can you do during this time of relentless chaos and every changing speculation? You can begin to take control by taking care of the only thing you are truly in charge of: yourself.
With so much out of our control at the moment, it’s important to refocus what is in our control You have the power to continue getting dressed in the morning, keep making your bed after breakfast, keep opening the shades to a world you are supposed to stay out of, so that you can let the light into yours.
When people feel depressed they often feel lethargic, they have a loss of interests, or have a deep urge to isolate. When we adhere to the thoughts and feelings we often stay in bed, close the shades tight, and bask in the glow of a blue light. Everything inside us begs to stay detached and separated.
The more we feed this urge, the stronger the feelings and thoughts become. We become slaves to a depressive feedback loop. But you have a choice. You can choose to start your day as if it is going to be a productive 24 hours. This could look like waking up, getting showered, making breakfast, making your bed, and then staring out of your window, but you made the choice.
You are choosing to live your life regardless of the circumstances around you. You can choose to spend the day looking out the window and wonder what is happening in the world, or you can look in the mirror and wonder what is happening inside.
The takeaway from this depressive feedback loop is that you are the one feeding half of the circle. You have the ability to feed yourself with a day in bed or a day with the shades open. You do not have control over what is happening outside of your home. You cannot control the amount of toilet paper sitting in your neighbor’s basement, attic, or wherever the toilet paper has vanished to.
You do have the power to control what is happening inside your home. You have all the authority to decide if your children are going to watch you fret or smile.
Matthew 6:26-27 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Our heavenly Father is not sitting in heaven biting His fingernails or wondering what the next chapter will bring. He has given us the free will to choose. I hope you choose to keep living, to keep letting the sunshine on your face, to keep forgiving, to keep showing His love. I am not saying that you should not prepare or take the necessary steps to provide the items you and your family need to survive. I am saying that how you do it is more important.
Imagine a mother and father running through the news cycles. The more they watch, the more hypervigilant they become. They are on edge, they are unsure of what to do, they have bills to pay, they have jobs that might not be there when this is over. All the while, there are little eyes absorbing every detail. Little minds that don’t have the ability to decipher the abstract dialogue and global chaos. Little hands that are looking for comfort and support.
As we continue to pray to our Heavenly Father for guidance, let’s not forget to create guidance for our children as He does for us. They are looking at you, moms, dads, uncles, grandmothers, and family friends. They are looking at your faces and the way you are using your words.
The content of what is happening is beyond the mind of a child. However, the context in which they are hearing it is heard loud and clear. This is a time to be a lighthouse for your children and find reprieve in their little arms. Show your children the love and guidance you are looking for by being the lighthouse in their stormy ocean.
What’s happening inside you is the same struggle that is happening across millions of minds and hearts. The desperate feeling of not knowing. And yet, there are those around us who have experienced the torture of the unknown and have survived the winds of change. They are the people we are trying to protect, and yet we’re not asking them the important questions. “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).
My wife and I often vacation in Arizona, and while visiting we spend a great deal of time with her grandparents. Her grandfather is 93 years old, born in 1926. He covered his plate during the Dust Bowl, he played in the backyard during the Great Depression, he prayed he wouldn’t get polio, he sailed across the ocean to serve his country in WWII, he watched a president lose his life in Dallas, he watched planes crash into the twin towers — and though it all, he lived his life.
The ones we are so desperately trying to protect are also the ones that can offer us the guidance and protection we need. For my wife’s grandfather, this is one of many moments of the unknown. And yet, he keeps living, he keeps waking up each and every morning: walks to the breakfast table fully dressed with his hair neatly done so that he can sit in front of the TV.
If you are fortunate enough to still have grandparents or great-grandparents, please call them. Ask them what it was like to live through the events and times they experienced. It is almost a guarantee they will be more than happy to hear the sound of your voice. And while they enjoy the sound of your voice, listen closely to theirs. Listen to the words, the language. Let the sound of their story resonate with you. They have written many chapters in their book; let them show you a few.
“Man with a black mask”, Courtesy of Cottonbro, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Agitated”, Courtesy of Elina Krima, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Young Boy”, Courtesy of Ana Paula Lima, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Grandma and Grandpa”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License