In the ten and a half years I’ve written for (in)courage, never have I thought so much about how the world in general — and admittedly my world in particular — could change between the day I submit my words and the day you read them.
Life under a shelter-at-home order feels a little like the five stages of grief but in no predictable order. My husband, children, and I seem to be in different stages at different times.
Our youngest daughter is firmly planted in stages one and two: denial and anger. At fourteen, I think her reaction stems from annoyance that her world has been turned upside down and from the fear she’s seen in me. The measures I take to clean groceries delivered to our home seem ridiculous and extreme to her. It must be unsettling to realize the people who’ve always protected you are no longer sure they can. If the coronavirus stood before her in tangible form, I have no doubt she would beat it senseless.
Our two other teens resort to something that resembles stage three: bargaining.
It reminds me of a typical parent/teen conversation: “Don’t worry, I won’t have an accident” — to which we reply, “No one plans to have an accident or they wouldn’t be called accidents.”
They think promising not to get too close to people will make everything okay and that their good intentions can protect them. They believe it too. And I have to be the one to remind them that the virus has infected lots of careful people with good intentions. I hate it.
Initially, I threw myself into isolation with the gusto of an Enneagram 3 who could buckle down and work without the distraction of outside commitments. I moved my blog to a new host. I started building a website for my new book. With no morning appointments, I easily slid deeper into my natural night owl tendencies.
Before long, I was staying up most of the night and having trouble sleeping. I worked a lot but desperately needed rest. As the days trickled by, I realized what really kept me awake at night: fear.
My husband works in an essential industry. He manages a printing facility that provides labels for medical and food products among other things, and I’ve had trouble trusting God to protect him and therefore us. I know this doesn’t compare with those whose loved ones work in the healthcare field, but still. It’s very real. I won’t belittle your fears if you don’t belittle mine.
He can’t hide in his office. Everyone needs him. And that exposes him to the twenty-two other people who work there and indirectly, to whomever they’ve come in contact with. My brain burrows down into some very dark rabbit holes if I let it and many days I fail to put faith over fear.
If he couldn’t work and wasn’t receiving a paycheck, it would create another type of stress. I’m not sure which is worse — lack of income or increased exposure — but I find myself looking out the window and envying neighbors taking walks or working on home projects together instead of worrying about who’s standing too close to their husbands.
This is my youngest son’s senior year. Last February, I wrote about how I dread graduation years. (Ironically, I said, “I’m already bracing myself for spring of 2020.” I had no idea.) We don’t know when or if he’ll have a graduation ceremony or a state meet for his final track season. His plans to leave on a nine-month mission trip in September are on hold.
None of us know what the future holds next week, next month, or next year. If left unchecked, this uncertainty can lead to overwhelming fear, and I’ve found myself clawing my way out of that pit too often.
Things started to change one Sunday evening when I decided to do everything I could and trust God to do the rest. (He doesn’t need my help, but it makes me feel better.) The eve of each new work week would send me into a tailspin and I didn’t want to go back into that place again. I didn’t want to feel like a victim filled with fear, but a victor filled with faith.
So I asked my husband for the names of each co-worker. I read them one by one and begged God to build a wall of protection around them and their families. I sent them bottles of hand sanitizer. They can be hard to come by, and I didn’t want any to do without.
The fifth stage of grief is acceptance, but I’m calling it faith. No matter what happens, I know that God is good, all the time. Our enemy may be invisible but can still be defeated.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I know Who holds tomorrow, the next day, and the one after that. And I trust Him.
I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I know Who holds tomorrow, the next day, and the one after that. And I trust Him. -@DawnMHSH: Click To Tweet