What I have seen of the activities in my house, the media, my local Wal-Mart, and IMGUR, we probably shouldn't be surviving this current global crisis. I can't speak for anyone else, but my complacency with myself, my family, and my own expectations has reached a new low. I have not been going to church. I have not been writing, I have not been spending quality time with my kids. I promise you, I'm not -writing this from a bar stool a Max's, but my time has not been an investment in any of my big four- faith, family, friends, and writing (yeah, I know it doesn't start with an F). I have fallen victim to the same monster killing most of us- CONCEIT. I'm running to the beep of my phone. First it's the alarm clock, then attendance bell, meetings, softball, basketball, grocery order notification, dentist, current HBO binge, and then crash into bed. (And yes, I fully admit to being THIS LAME. You should try it sometime. The admission; not the Lameness.....it's Lame, trust me.) I have put myself and my priorities above all others.
I realize that I will not survive this pandemic- the current ME who can't see past the nose on her face. In fact, none of us were meant to survive it- at least those who can admit to being short-sighted like me. This has become one those defining moments meant to change who we are as a society. Just like other depressions, wars, crises in our country and in our world. This has become a giant WAKE-UP CALL that some of us are still missing.
This realization was not a moment or a rock falling from the sky, It began the week of March 2nd. My wonderful neighbors, Chad and Carolyn go for a walk almost every day. They hold hands, they smile at me as I rush in and out of the neighborhood gates like a mad woman. One afternoon, I stepped out of my car and Chad yelled, "Don't go inside!" I knew what he was referring to- a double rainbow was perched perfectly atop my house. I stopped and talked with them for a few minutes before resuming my crazy. It was a highlight of that day. I love the calming and purposeful way they listen and honestly care about what is happening in the walls of my house. Chad and Carolyn's ability to listen and bring peace onto others is such a gift. It allows me analyze my own harried state. It allows me to wonder why in the world anyone would want to talk to me. But nevertheless, these two people have learned the importance of slow, deliberate living, and it makes me yearn for that as well. The idea that I can't have that because life is too fast-paced for a mom with a family like mine is absurd. If I wanted it badly enough, I could have it. It after the events of this month, I know the Lord believes this as well.
But why don't I try harder for peace? Why wouldn't I want to give something like that to myself? My kids? I know if I am calmer and more centered, I am a better person for everyone with whom I interact. This has always been a struggle. I don't know if it is self-centeredness, immaturity, hyperactivity, but occasionally this part of my personality sneaks up and takes control of my entire being.
How can I get out from under this force?
This question and the others parts of the story begin to connect this week- the first week we were all home from school:
I decided to wake up early and begin last Monday with my daily devotional, which I haven't done in too long. The message was the same that I had received from my neighbor a few weeks prior. The same message Chad and Carolyn were trying to get me to understand when they asked me to stop and look at the double rainbow with the: Psalm 123:1-4 "Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens"
When I opened today's devotional I knew the Lord was speaking to me, like he has been speaking to all of us for the past months. I read Mark 4:39-40 “And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Now, this is a devotional book my mother gave me, and has no ties with current affairs, it was just from the next page in a book. And just like the Lord does, he reminds me to be calm.
It seems these issues are not mine alone. I am merely a piece of a larger world who is dealing with all these same fears and insecurities. I have been looking down (or rather looking in my pantry or my dwindling TP supply) rather than looking up. I have been focused my my own needs instead of the needs of others. Also God has pressed the PAUSE button for me, and demanded, not asked, that I reevaluate my day to day priorities. I looked up at that double rainbow and clearly missed the significance then, but I'm not missing the significance now. God promised not to flood the world- he didn't promise not to shut it down and put all of us in TIME OUT.
And it appears this same beast overwhelming me is also taking overwhelming the world. We are focused on our own faction, our political group, our bigotry or our zero-tolerance, when what we should have been practicing is PATIENCE, GRACE (yes those are different), and LISTENING SKILLS. I discovered I need to practice lifting my eyes and being a viable part of our community. I can't do that if I'm running around like a headless chicken. God has told us in so many ways to be His hands and Feet, and He will get us through any pandemic or depression life throws our way.
I won't survive this current pandemic as the same person. None of us are meant to. This is a time of self-reflection, but it also a time of change. Throughout history humans have brought world war, depression, and plagues unto themselves, God has always used those moments of growth. We are not meant to be the same individuals or society at the end of this outbreak.
I have been humbly reminded of who I need to be for my family, my community and myself. I am now humbly asking you to do the same. Lift up your eyes, whether you are a follower of Jesus or not. Stop looking at this quarantine as an inconvenience, but an opportunity to bond with our families. Go to the store not because you are down to your last 20 rolls. Instead, call your food pantry to see what they need.
If anyone else is looking for inner strength, it is not coming from within, it's coming from above.
I'm excited about this online stuff we are digging into here at my high school! For the next two weeks, I hope this experience will help me grow as a teacher and a mother, and I hope to get some clarity and time to put into my current manuscript as well.
Leave me a message. Tell me if you have any thoughts or goals for the next few weeks. What kind of issues have you been going through?
Or let me know if I can bring you some TOILET PAPER!