These Days Won’t Come Again

Yesterday. It was the middle of March yesterday. We were anticipating spring break and Easter. Now, it’s the end of August, and we’ve walked through spring, summer, and all the associated holidays and traditions. Now, the kids are back in school, and everything is still…different. We’re wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and fighting about it. We’ve politicized all of it and how you feel about Covid is related to your politics. I’ve shaken my head in disbelief many times.

We’ve narrowed our friend circle enough that we distrust everyone in the supermarket. But, then we’re surprised when someone reacts badly. We shouldn’t be. The media has built up fear. Now, I don’t believe this virus is a hoax, but when is it enough? When do we come out of our foxholes to associate with the rest of the world? When a vaccine exists? That might be sometime next year. Never? It’s starting to look more like it. Then, my thoughts go to each day I live though, a day that will never come again. Is this how God wants us to live? So afraid of a disease and not being safe that we’re afraid to love each other like Jesus calls us to. I wanted to explore that today, explore those questions that will help us consider how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.

Safe. Are Christians truly meant to be safe in this world? As much as some people from the prosperity gospel side of things would like to think so, I would have to say no. Think of all the Christians who have been martyred over the years. People who were killed for their faith in the twentieth century all the way back to the apostles themselves. Then, there’s Jesus Himself, the most important one. The one who was crucified on the cross for all of us. Does that sound like someone who wants us whimpering in our closets? I don’t think so.

Now, let me say this again for those in the back who might not have heard it the first time. I do not believe this virus is a hoax. But, when do we start living again? When do we come out of our familial cocoon? When do we care about each other? I’m not going to pretend like I have the answers to these questions, but they are questions we need to consider.

Each day is passing like its meaning is gone. Slipping away from one day into the next. Wondering what is right and what is wrong. Wondering who is right and who is wrong. Lives are not meant to be lived alone, but that is what society is calling on from us. To live alone which means we will die that much faster from reducing our social interaction to almost nothing.

This makes me wonder if that’s what God wants. To be alone to consider what He wants from us. Or to consider whether we really do care about the people He says we should care about. These might seem opposite to each other, but hear me out. We have had the chance to sacrifice ourselves during this pandemic. To help other people. Have we? Some of us have, those we have called and still call “essential workers.” Have we done it with the heart of Jesus? Some have, but not all because they have let fear overcome them. What about those of us who aren’t essential workers? I’d say fear has overcome us even though Scripture tells us not to fear. I will only quote one of the many Scriptures on fear. Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I have been thinking about this as I’ve also considered the questions my pastor asked in his devotion this morning. (Wed. Aug. 26) “Who are we?” “What are we doing here?” I can only consider them for myself much as I also might want to change others. And God doesn’t interfere because He wants us to have the freedom to come to Him ourselves. It can be frustrating, but I am grateful God gives us His grace when we stray.

So, to end this, I vow to live each day without fear and with His heart as I pray for us to realize that life is short and should be lived to its fullest capacity-pandemic or not.

God bless you all!

Inertia

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve only been able to do necessary activities and write things I was sure wouldn’t be seen. I would feel paralyzed every time I attempted to do otherwise. It’s occurred to me over the last few days though that events I keep scanning over and over in my head have resulted in a state of depression which has lead to inertia. I’ve never looked at the two things together so I thought I would go over my thoughts and feelings today.

First, the definition. Inertia is a “tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.” Yes, that’s been me for the last few weeks. There’s also another definition you’re probably more familiar with which is from a physics-related viewpoint. Inertia is a “property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless that state is changed by an external force.” Though this definition is used more in science, I could see how it would apply in my situation.

The definition also listed similar words that described some of the same feelings. The most relevant included inactivity, inaction, passivity, apathy, malaise, and lethargy. These are all words I can apply to my present state of mind and have been words I’ve used in the past when I’ve had a depressive episode.

But, until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know that my inability to produce written work was related to my depression. I thought it was more related to the nuts and bolts of this pandemic. Reading one news source that said the end was near or reading another one that said the coronavirus was like the flu. Being upset with the status quo and feeling inadequate because others are so satisfied with the status quo. Seeing other Christians make a point of telling people to stay home without making an attempt to help those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Then, people, you thought you knew, step back when they see you. It’s like a top keeps spinning, and you don’t know when it’s going to stop. The boogeyman, who invaded our nightmares as children, has come back on steroids with this pandemic. Fear has invaded our spirits no matter how much we want to deny it.

Here’s what I did with it though. It was so easy, I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. I let go of the people who don’t want to be in my bubble. Inadequacy and fear disappeared too. People are making choices right now to have surface relationships because of fear, and I can’t prevent it. I can control how I meet my words and how they pour forth. The thought released a wall in my mind, and a torrent of words resulted which has yet to be squashed. I know this will be an ongoing thing through this pandemic, but it is nice not to feel paralyzed now. Life is going to look different when the pandemic is over, and the choices I make now will help me to move forward. Have a wonderful day!

God bless you all!

Gems in My Pocket

I might or might not finish with the title I’m starting with. I want to see what the piece looks like before I decide. So, this week begins a new month. August, if you’re not already aware. It also brought one of my favorite authors back to social media. I was aware Rachel Macy Stafford had been taking a break from social media, but I hadn’t known the length. I saw the pieces she wrote this past weekend and at the beginning of the week and almost cheered. Actually, I did cheer.

Not only does Mrs. Stafford have the gift of weaving words together, but she also has the gift of true encouragement. Now, you might wonder what the difference is between encouragement and true encouragement. I call it authenticity. She has many fans, but every time I read one of her notes or responses, it seems to have been made for just that person. To have that gift is rare which makes me glad I found her as an author.

But, you’re not reading this to hear me wax poetic about Mrs. Stafford. You’re here to hopefully read a piece of coherent writing written by yours truly. I needed to include the set-up though so you would understand how I came up with the phrase “gems in my pocket,” and so I could give credit where credit was deserved. Mrs. Stafford used it as a teaching tool with her daughters when their family moved and remembered it again for herself when her friend moved. Being able to readily remember someone’s “words, laughter, and teachings” though you no longer see them regularly is a gift you keep for a lifetime.

I have those gifts too. In my over fifty years of life, I have moved several times, and I’ve gained something from each place I’ve lived. Memory. It comes at just the right time to let you know about the disparate pieces which have knit you into the person you are. I believe these gifts can also be strength builders though, and this is what I want to talk about today.

We are in a time of perpetual uncertainty. My young adult children are unable to enter the next phase of their lives, and I’m not able to enter the empty nest phase of mine. We, as people, can’t be around each other either which has been particularly frustrating for me.

Enter “gems in my pocket.” Despite the moving of our lives over to technology, I’ve appreciated tangible items of encouragement. I’ve carried around a letter and a card for several years because of the encouragement they offered me. I know who wrote me the card, and I’m pretty sure who wrote the letter though it was unsigned. These are items that will always be with me.

I mentioned technology, and it has had its benefits as well as its negatives to keeping in touch. There are texts that have come just when I’ve needed them or messages on social media. They are gems too though they’re not quite as tangible as the cards and letters.

Then, there are things that happen when we get-together. Of course, that’s not happening quite as much now because of the pandemic. We’re wearing masks, and we’re not hugging people. But, there are two things people have done for me recently that I count as gems. Winking and giving elbow bumps. I felt seen when that happened. More seen than I had felt since this started. A real gem, if you ask me.

As I conclude, I want to tell you this.  We need to feel like we’re seen right now. Like we’re part of a community. We’ve been told we need to stay separate so changing our mindset about this is difficult. But, I believe we can change it. So, for a challenge this week and moving forward, I challenge you to help someone feel seen in this brave new world of ours.

God bless you all!