I was sitting in my reading chair last night picking Luke's brain for the umpteenth time on how we could spend the evening, and we settled on ordering the game "Battleship" from Amazon, when Luke said to me, "We can order it, but it probably will get here when this quarantine is over."
Just hours before that, I was talking to a co-worker about the possibility of school not starting back up in August again like normal, and hours before that conversation, I had read an articled titled, "No Concerts Until 2021."
Each of these scenarios playing out in my head with a big shrug and a deep sigh of "I don't know."
And I think, this may be the answer you've been looking for.
There is absolutely no way for us to know how this is going to end.
It's fascinating to me that someone out there has made a prediction that is probably correct, but I can tell you that person is not me, and I'd be willing to put money down that it isn't your next door neighbor who has been prophesying his prediction on Facebook for the third time this week.
What will happen in the foreseeable future? Will the economy come roaring back to life in the next two months? Or, will this continue on for the remainder of 2020? We don't know.
In general? Will the outside of my house be done by the end of August? In the past it's been, "Will I be able to graduate in three years? When will Luke propose? When will I be able to buy my first house? Where will my first job be? I didn't know the answers then either.
And serendipitously enough, those things all worked out for me in the end.
The ability to throw your hands up in the air and say "I don't know," while scary at first, is really a very freeing solution.
Besides, I've never read a good story where the ending was spoiled right at the beginning.
When it comes down to it, whether I'm trying to predict the end of a pandemic or the weather, all I'm really trying to do is create a false sense of reality where I am calling the shots by shouting them into the universe.
All we want is control, whether it's real or not, and by trying to predict the future, all we are really trying to do is guess the outcome so we feel like we have something to plan for.
If there's two things that uncertainty proves, it proves that we need something bigger than ourselves, and we need faith. How do you think Jonah felt sitting in his uncertainty in the stomach of a whale? Or Noah, when he and his family had been on an arc in the middle of nowhere for 40 days? Or Moses when a literal sea was split wide open and he was expected to lead thousands through it? Or Mary and the disciples as they waited for Day 3?
Need I go on?
Uncertainty and doubt, are really just an auditorium for faith to take centerstage.
Jonah cries out to God, and is delivered. Noah rides out the storm. Moses ends up doing that and so much more. And Mary and the disciples, well, you know how that one ends.
"Faith shows the reality of what we hope for and is the evidence of things we cannot see. " Hebrews 11:1
Is your faith in the doctors and nurses who are tirelessly working to bring us a cure? Is it in government officials who are making recommendations every day? Is it in yourself and trying to do everything you possibly can to control the outcome of your current situation?
Or is it in the One who promises time and time and time again that He will work everything together for good wether you know the ending or not.
At the end of the day, all doctors, government officials, moms & dads, all they are is human. That's it. So while we can believe in them and support them, they will never give us the peace we all are looking for right now. The peace that comes to rule you heart.
So here's what I do know, in the end I don't know and you don't know, and that's okay.
There's a quote from a book where a woman falls deathly ill, and as she's about to to take her last breath a vision of Jesus appears to her, heals her, and says the following...
All will be well.
All will be well.
And all manners of things will be well.
At least for us, we are going on week four of social distancing, or quarantining, or the new normal, or whatever buzz word you want to call this season. I've been hesitant to use this kind of language in the last couple of posts, but I feel like I'm moving through the stage of grief called acceptance. Where I feel like the rest of the general population is saying, "Okay, now what.
Make the most of these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand instead what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15
These evil days, and that is a direct quote (NLT). What the verse above doesn't say is that these evil days are not an excuse to waste away, in fact is says the opposite and I'll get to that in a minute.
The truth of the matter is, it would be easy to act thoughtlessly. To think that yours, and my, actions during this time won't have consequences, and I think that we will either come out the other side of this as more evolved, or less evolved in whatever practices we have instilled during this time.
So I'm challenging myself, and you, to think about the second half of the verse.
Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit singing songs and hymns... Giving thanks for everything.
Imagine this, we emerge from this crazy and confusing season with a greater sense of peace, prayer and self awareness. We appreciate one another as human beings who are in their very nature supposed to be social, and, I'm just getting a sense that, we are at this point of the processing of our grief for the time being that we can, hopefully, begin to actively accept what's going on and try to make the best of a very crummy situation.
And before I go any further, I want to have a disclaimer that says the rest of this blog is NOT supposed to take away from the fact that this has been a really difficult time. This is hard, and sad, and scary, and confusing, and anything that you may be feeling right now. For example, I wrote this piece originally on Thursday, and today is Saturday as I'm getting it on my blog, and it will be Sunday by the time you're reading this, and over the course of just those 4 days my mood has been all over the place, from "God is good and I am good," to, "If I don't leave this house in the next thirty minutes, I'm going to officially lose it," so the next chunk of this blog is how I've been dealing when I can, and I challenge you to lean in with me because feelings aren't always the truth, and to avoid escapist behaviors such as drinking, self isolating, eating food that is not good for you, or things of that nature, and here's how.
1. Start your day out in prayer, or at the very least, silence.
Do not start your day by looking at your phone or social media. For me, this means deleting the apps off my phone before I go to bed, and re-downloading them AFTER I've had some quiet time in the morning. If you're looking for a way to get started, here's what I've been doing.
-pick a book of the bible and start at chapter 1, and read it once all the way through.
- Read it through a second time, underlining what sticks out to you.
-Write down word for word the verses you just underlined, and how it can apply to your life today.
-Pray over those verses.
2. Create a gratitude ritual
Whether this is in the morning, nighttime, afternoon, whether you write it down or say it out-loud, just try to come up with a list of things you're grateful for, big and small. Perhaps even share it with others! I feel like this is self explanatory.
3. Exercise or go on a walk, or two, or three, or four ;)
In reality, fear and anxiety are a signal to the body, not the mind, that something is wrong, and by moving our bodies we can take some of those warning signals and work them out without them every having to go to our heads for a chance to overthink.
4. Do one thing you enjoy, or would like to start enjoying.
For me this has been reading, for you it might be cross stitching, for my brother it has been learning a rubix cube. It can be literally anything, preferably not digital. If you're looking for a place to start, here are some of my most favorite and habit forming books.
"God Has a Name" John Mark Comer
"The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry" John Mark Comer
"Unseen" Sarah Haggerty
"Everybody Always" Bob Goff
I've also found myself writing more in the past 4 weeks than I have in the past two years! Write letters, send cards!
5. Find a relational touchpoint
In other words, talk to someone everyday, whether that's your #quarentinecrew or someone on the phone. May I also point out that there has never been a better time to find a church! With most locations streaming, you could check out multiple locations in just one day, or try a new one each week! Then when this is all said and done, go!
6. Limit screen time, news and media intake, and escapism behaviors
Enough said. Notice this said "limit," not delete all together.
My main point through this whole thing is that this time is NOT meant to be a punishment from God, or anyone really. Each time disease is mentioned in the New Testament Jesus saves and He heals! Does God bring illness and disease as punishment in the Old Testament? Yes, but we don't live in the Old Testament anymore. That's why Jesus came!!
Keep in mind, I'm not perfect at this. No one is, but these are just some of the things I've been trying to make this time a little less disheartening. Consider it Joy, that we have been given a choice on how we live our days, because we do not have to live in a season of captivity.
Awake O Sleeper,
Will you choose to take the easy way out this season, or will you find a way to make the most of these evil days, big or small steps by just choosing to wake up.
***If you're looking for a physical tool to help keep you accountable to the above six steps, I encourage you to click here to see the inspiration for this blog.
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.