The world is encountering something we’ve never had to face before, at least not in my life time:
A global pandemic.
I’ve been doing the same thing everyone else has this week: trying to process the context in which we find ourselves living right now.
This morning, Fox News released the statement that the Coronavirus pandemic could last for eighteen months, or even longer.
(Check out the video interview between Fox News anchors and Dr. Oz, below, for more perspective on that.)
How do we even wrap our minds around this?
Emotions like disappointment, frustration, and fear loom like giants.
No one knows what to expect in the days ahead, or just how profoundly our lives might change.
I remind myself daily:
History tells us that humanity is indeed stronger than adversity.
Scripture tells us that our Almighty God is present in every culture, every generation, and every calamity.
Today, I want to speak from the perspective of a Christian woman with a deeply introverted personality.
This isn’t a glorified version of the “I’m an introvert, I can handle the quarantine” memes.
However, I believe that introverts do have a few advantages in processing this entire situation:
—–> We are already okay with being alone, being at home, and processing the world from a distance.
I hope something I say today will speak peace and perspective to your heart.
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In pondering the events that have transpired over the past week, I feel that-
#1: Americans were already isolated.
In our modern age of Facebook “friends” and social media “connections,” we have long ago abandoned meaningful conversations in favor of screen chats and embraced “communities” that amount to nothing more than digital distractions.
My question is:
When did Americans become afraid of isolation?
Emotionally, we are isolated as a nation, and have been for who knows how long.
A virus didn’t cause that.
I understand that social distancing is a deeply different breed of isolation, and not a good thing.
But perhaps while we’re hunkering down and biding our time, we might consider redefining how we want to live out concepts like “community,” “socializing” and “connecting” in the future.
#2: Slowing down is actually a good thing.
Our crowded calendars have suddenly been wiped clean- and no one knows for how long.
Is it possible that we have become so addicted to the numbing affect of living overly busy lives that pressing pause suddenly feels like an abrupt withdrawal from a powerful drug?
We are facing more “white space” than perhaps we ever have in our life time.
The truth is, we’re afraid of slowing down.
Granted, isolation isn’t a healthy thing- emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
But pressing pause- or, as one wise young woman stated, “building a nest and sitting in it-” can actually be a very good thing.
Maybe the best thing Americans can do right now is sit still long enough to unplug from the chaos,
feel our own emotions,
form our own thoughts,
look our own family members in the eye-
and ask ourselves some hard questions.
#3: We need to be honest with ourselves.
One of my kids told me this week,
“Mom, I don’t know who I am unless I’m with my friends. When they panic, I want to panic too- because I honestly don’t know what I think.”
I think my kiddo put a voice to a great fear many Americans are grappling with right now-
Who am I, apart from what I do and who I’m with?
The introvert in me says,
Don’t be afraid to sit with yourself for a while.
Listen to the thoughts that run through your head and ask the Holy Spirit to help you sift the lies from the truth.
Let yourself feel the emotions that you normally ignore.
How will you handle the anger and frustration?
What are you going to do with the fear? The disappointments?
And, perhaps most importantly-
How is this experience going to shape our future value systems for the better?
#4: Do I have the spiritual muscle required to do hard things?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself over these past few days.
For me, I think the answer is, No.
My generation has grown up without the pressures and hardships that previous generations had to face.
The “common sense,” fortitude, and grit of yesterday have digressed into character atrophy in our fast-paced world.
We have enjoyed the prosperity of our American lifestyle, but maybe our blessings have robbed us of emotional, spiritual, and even physical fortitude.
I told my husband last night, “Our grandparents’ strength of character was hard-earned. I want that character, but I’ve never desired the hard times that develop it.”
It’s possible that our most important commodities during this crisis might be creativity, a strong faith, and patience.
#5: Times of crisis either bring out the best or the worst in us.
I’ve noticed that, amidst all the panic, reactionary hoarding, and fear, there are people who are bringing their best gifts to the table and generously sharing.
My email inbox has been flooded with gifts and offers from creatives, educators, and bloggers- all stepping up to share their best gifts with the world.
Disney released it’s block-buster movie, “Frozen 2,” on Disney Plus, three months ahead of schedule, “in hopes of surprising families with some fun and joy during this challenging period.” [source]
Amidst many corporate lay-offs and shut downs, Amazon is hiring 100,000 distributors in order to keep up with increased volume of online shopping. [source]
I’ve been telling my kids all week, “Hard times bring out the best or the worst in us. We get to choose which it will be.”
I think that’s worth remembering.
#6: Do I really take God’s Word seriously?
This is another question I’ve been asking myself.
Am I willing to really take God at His Word?
Do I believe that His promises of wisdom, grace, and strength are enough?
Are God’s gentle commands of “fear not” my mental bedrock, or mere platitudes?
And, perhaps the biggest question of all- Am I willing to really learn how to live into His provision of peace?
I landed on this Scripture recently, and, in light of what’s going on in our world right now, I read it with new eyes:
“Take no thought for your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; or for your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than raiment?
“Consider the birds of the air: for they do not plant, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?
“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit unto his stature? And why do you worry for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
“If God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, oh ye of little faith?
“Therefore, do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or how shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.
“Do not worry about tomorrow: for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
I don’t think God is saying, “Don’t plan; don’t prepare.”
But He is saying, “Don’t worry.”
“Don’t rely on yourself for security. You never were actually in control, anyway.”
It goes without saying that this pandemic has more than reminded us that we are not in control.
In fact, right now most of us are wondering if anyone is behind the wheel, and if we’re careening off the edge at break-neck speed.
I wish I could find in God’s Word that He promised to exclude us from hardship and uncertainty.
But I just don’t see it.
I do find Scripture to be rich with provision of all the grace, peace, and strength that we need.
But we must decide to live well.
It all starts there- with the choice to rise to the challenge.
So let me end with this-
You and I can do this.
We can live well through a crisis- regardless if it lasts for eighteen days or eighteen months.
We can “build a nest and sit in it.” (Thank you for coining this phrase, Joy.)
We can light candles in the darkness.
We can create beauty and cultivate hope.
We can grow in strength (don’t be surprised if there are growing pains).
We can live more simply, more generously, more intentionally.
My friends, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
Make the choice. Start there.
Take it from an introvert:
The quiet life,
the slower pace,
the heart connections without all the social noise-
It isn’t all bad.
In fact, there is beauty in the smallness.
Courage to be found in the quietness.
Freedom in exploring the hidden things.
If you look, you’ll find it.
Here’s to living & loving well-
P.S. Our First Lady spoke a heartfelt message to the American people via her Instagram account today. Check it out!
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