I am a two on the Enneagram and have discovered that I am highly affected by my environment. The past weeks… well actually months of world-wide turmoil have weighed heavy on my heart and mind.
Prior to this year I learned to be selective of which of the world’s burdens I let in in an effort to protect my mental health. I learned that news that I have no control over had the power to haunt me. As a result I basically had to break up with news media aside from the occasional lone drive in the car when I would be able to safely tune into NPR without little ears tuning in too.
With COVID and the current call for Racial Justice in our country I’ve become consumed with these issues. At the start of the COVID outbreak I truly wanted to learn about this illness so I could make wise decisions for my family.
Over time I’ve found the headlines to be contradictory, misleading, and fear-mongering seems to be the aim of most outlets (and I’ve read articles that from sites that span the Political spectrum, they all seem to have an agenda rather than to help clarify facts for our world in crisis).
While I still want to protect my family…unfortunately the news is not helping me accomplish this. I have concluded that I just have to keep to the practices I relied on pre-pandemic to limit the amount of illness we experience in our home… follow the numbers in our community and state mandated guidelines… and also accept the painful truth that I do not have control over things like illness, etc.
No matter how careful I am I cannot ensure that no harm comes to the people I love… this is one of my least favorite facts of life and probably a source of many of my anxious thoughts.
Life is full of risk. I have a choice: I can live in fear or live with peace…
I’m doing my best to try to choose peace while being as wise I can to do what we reasonably can do to remain safe… in a world filled with so much uncertainty. The verse that came to me at the start of this has become my montra….and I find more meaning in it as this year continues on.
Proverbs 3:5-6 —> Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
That being said figuring out how to respect and navigate the new social rules with COVID around is a challenge and exhausting. Each of us has to define what feels wise for their families… I want to protect and respect my friends and family but this has not been easy to figure out. The “New Normal” is confusing… Anyone else struggle with this?
The protects in out country have opened my eyes in new ways to the great need for reform, justice, and greater equity in our country… but the work is hard and complex. We are praying and seeking to find ways I can engage, speak up, and be transformed by the awareness this movement has brought about. God hates racism but the Devil loves the way it tears our world apart. Engaging on this issue is engaging in Spiritual warfare…and it’s hard.
Honestly all of this has triggered levels of anxiety that I haven’t experienced in quite a while. For me this looks like panic attacks, spiraling thoughts, restlessness, obsessing over the news, extreme fear of death/harm to me/my family/loved ones, and allowing it all to change my demeanor.
While I know I can’t wish away the world’s problems; I can shift my perspective.
I can focus on the things that inspire hope, the joy my family and friends offer, and things I personally can do to help…and let go of some of the things I can’t control.
This is the work I have to do to guard myself from a spiraling into a cycle of anxiety and depression. I wonder how many others are struggling in the same ways through this season?
So this weekend I engaged in the ministry of being outside… or in other words we went camping. There is healing power in being with people you love and disengaging from life and all it’s worries in order to just enjoy simple joys! Joy’s like s’mores, fireflies, lake water, hikes in nature, waking up to a chorus of birds chirping, and bedtime made-up stories for our kids that include the adapted cast of Arrested Development :).
I spent night one of our weekend awake, anxious, and struggling….Thankfully night two I slept well with a clear mind. These are the things I have to commit to in order to find joy in the midst of our world’s turmoil.
How are you handling this season? What is helping? What is hurting? How can we all #choosejoy in this dark time?