Truthfully, I’m not even really sure where to begin this blog. I’m going to warn you that it’s more than likely going to be all over the place just like my mind has been these past couple of months. While the U.S. has only been under nationwide quarantine for a couple of weeks, my mind and heart have been plagued with the repercussions of COVID-19 for much longer.
It all began when I felt an intense pressing on my heart for many weeks. I knew exactly what it was about but since I knew it was going to require letting go of something I held so very dear, I ignored the pressing. After weeks of people coming to me with words of concern and wisdom about this very thing, I finally relented and listened to the Lord’s voice. It was evident He was asking me to follow His lead on the tremendously difficult decision not to go back to Greece this year.
At that point the organization I was going with was still planning on making the trip and helping with the conference, but with the COVID-19 situation getting worse in China and then eventually making it’s way to Italy, the Lord put it on my heart to trust Him in not going. I was angry and upset, but I knew it required even more trust in the Lord for me to lay Greece at His Feet, rather than to go anyway. My heart was breaking, but I know enough about sacrifice to know it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but instead often uncomfortable and necessary for true growth.
My family and I made that decision just days after my 22nd birthday in February. Since then, as we all know, COVID-19 has required more and more sacrifice from not only me, but the world as a whole.
As days went by we were getting more and more information. It was starting to become more real to Americans. It was no longer the “coronavirus epidemic attacking Eastern civilization”, but a pandemic edging closer and closer to our reality. Washington was hit first and hit hard. At that time my cousin, aunt, and uncle were living in Seattle so I was hearing many updates from them. I knew it was a matter of time before this virus made its way across the nation.
While numbers were increasing and more states were reporting cases people were still acting carelessly. I started to grow angry and questioning the judgement of even those around me. I think part of my anger was due to the fact I had to go into protective isolation two weeks before it was enacted, but I know it came from a place of mostly hurt.
I heard many people say things like, “well, I’m young and healthy, I’ll bounce back”, or “if someone tells me not to do something I’m more likely to do it” or even, “it’s all a conspiracy anyway”. The hardest part about these statements weren’t what was said, but who they came from. Most of them were people close to me and people who love Jesus. While I understand it’s hard to want to give up our “normal” and that we should never act out of fear, the Lord also calls us to respond out of wisdom and love. None of those things were said out of those places. I am not angry with those statements or even those people, but I was at the time more so disappointed. This was a time to show love and care for those around us just as Jesus instructed. One of those ways was to listen to our medical workers and leaders and stay home.
However, that was weeks ago and it seems many people are now listening, whether they want to or not. People are starting to see this is more serious than they may have originally thought. It’s now personally affecting neighbors, coworkers, friends, family members, and possibly even themselves. This isn’t just something we can ignore, but we have to all do our part to help make an already bleak situation somehow less awful.
I’m not at all diminishing the mental and emotional strain this is causing others, heck even I have my moments! Just weeks ago I was inside a COVID-19 unit and was tested for the notorious disease. I was scared and vulnerable and so utterly human. I cried for an entire day and anxiously awaited my results. I’m still thanking the Lord they were negative. Even just tonight I spent the last three hours crying on the couch to my mom. The realization finally hit that even after the stay-at-home order is lifted I will be isolated much longer. For months after everyone else I will be working to get back to some sort of normal.
I am not by any means negating the Father’s sovereignty and perfect peace throughout this entire journey thus far. I know without Him and His comfort I would be an absolute wreck. This, after all, is exactly every immune suppressed, immune compromised, or immune deficient persons nightmare come to life. I should by all accounts be feeling much worse than I am. Yet, most days I am okay. I fill my time with things I love. I write, I read, go for walks, watch movies, talk with loved ones. I’ve recently gotten very into baking and cooking and my mom and I have been working in our gardens. I spend time in the Word and prayer. I’m learning to treat myself more kindly and allowing the Lord to speak Truth over me more than I would normally.
I am so incredibly thankful to have a safe and healthy place to isolate. I am not without anything I need and have plenty of what I could want. I am grateful for ways to still interact with others virtually and still feel a part of some community. I see glimpses of beauty in so many small things daily. I’m noticing the birds chirping more each day, I’m seeing new growth on the trees, and enjoying the warmth of sunny days. I’m seeing God’s hand in nature in incredible ways and even more in the lives around me.
While COVID-19 is seemingly dismantling everything we know, it’s also forcing us to recognize the need around us. People are starting to step up in ways we don’t often see. Humanity as a whole is becoming aware of our need to help and be there for one another that many of us tend forget in our crazy lives. We’re learning resilience and how to get creative with what we have. New restrictions, stats, and graphs come out daily, but our shared understanding and empathy grows. It’s an unprecedented time with so many difficult decisions being made minute-by-minute, but also a time of great reflection.
I am convinced once things slowly start to creep back to life as we’re accustomed to, things will have an underlying feeling of difference. My hope and prayer is we won’t take things as for granted as we did pre-COVID-19. That we’ll take time to appreciate the little things like a hug from a loved one, the ability to go to sit down in a coffee shop, or the crowded streets on a warm summer day. One of my favorite quotes from one of my most beloved movies says this, “We’re all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”
So, even as you’re more than likely sitting at home reading this, I pray you see there is hope left even in a time like this. There is Love and Light and Promises that will be kept. I love you all and I’m proud of each of you. You’re pushing on despite the intense temptation to give up. Be kind to yourself and to others. Sending all of the virtual hugs your way.