It seems unreal. It seems like a scene from a movie. Like something we would watch and think, “Wow, that’s crazy! I’m glad that would never happen to me.”
And yet – it has happened to me. It is happening to me right now.
For the first time in my life, I went to the store on a Saturday morning to do my normal grocery shopping, and I couldn’t buy the things on my list. Seeing completely empty shelves and produce boxes in the grocery store is unnerving – and a wake-up call to this spoiled American, 21st-century girl who has never worried about not being able to buy something she needs at the store.
To be honest, up until this point, my attitude toward COVID-19 has been pretty cavalier. I remembered other health scares that passed after some weeks of hand sanitizing and mask wearing. I figured this would be the same.
And then they closed school for six weeks.
And my heart sank into my shoes as I realized that my whole world was going to change as it came to a halt.
While a new virus that has no cure is definitely a cause for fear, I’m not actually afraid of the disease – or dying for that matter. If I were to die from it, I know that would be God’s plan for me, and I would go to heaven to be with Him.
Trusting Him with my death seems to be easy. Trusting Him with my life when everything is out of my control – that seems so much more difficult.
And the reason for that is that my job as a teacher gives me so much purpose. Even though it’s exhausting, those kids need me. And I need them. When I’m grieving in my personal life, loving them helps me get outside of myself. When I feel sad about being single and childless, teaching them and being with them reminds me that I am loved and doing exactly what God wants me to be doing.
What I fear most of all is social isolation.
My job, my church family, and all the events that I love to go to and be a part of – these are what keep me from crippling despair over being alone in life.
And the thought of being stuck by myself in my own house day after day gives me a lot of anxiety.
So I turn to the only secure thing in a world that has been turned upside down – the Word of God.
And as always, it brings exactly what I need to hear:
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though
The earth gives way,
Though the mountains be
Moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble
At its swelling
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
How he has brought desolations
On the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.”
(Taken from Psalm 46)
This is not the first time the world has been overtaken by fear. And it certainly won’t be the last. But God is still on His throne, He is still with us, He is still working through the worst situations.
And therefore, I pray for what my next steps need to be.
How can I be servant-minded in the midst of a situation that could cause me to become very self-focused? How can I love and support my students, even from afar? How can I use my home to support friends and family members in the midst of this crisis?
How can I learn to be community-minded, even when we have to be careful about our personal contact? How can I help others clean, work on my own projects that God has called me to, and seek His face even more clearly in the extra time He has given me?
There are a lot of needs all around me, and I pray that I would use my extra time to help meet them instead of use it to drown in my own self-pity.
So if you need some childcare, if you need help with your child’s academics (I’d love to have a book club with them!), if you need help cleaning, if you need someone to share a meal with or a little game night, if you need someone to ride a bike with – I am your person.
I am so ready to lean away from social isolation and into relationship-building and community-building however that might look over the next six weeks. Let’s be there for each other, check on each other, and love each other through the strangest turn of events we may have experienced in our lives.
He will bring beauty from these ashes. I’m sure of it.