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Let's Be Honest: Pandemic Fears and Denial

Most mornings, in the foggy twilight between sleep and consciousness, my mind requires a bit of time to catch up to speed on reality.  I'm guessing yours does, too.

This morning, for those few, fleeting seconds, I believed today was a Monday like all the Mondays I've known before... coffee, school, work, etc.  Until my brain arrived in real time, and made the disheartening discovery that there is still a pandemic, and life as we knew it is temporarily on hold. 

Hopefully.

But these foggy, forgetful mornings betray a deeper truth. My tendency to drift into denial is as strong as anyone's. We're pain-adverse creatures, I often say, and these days of alarming news every 30 minutes kicks that feature into high gear.

As the reports spin and swirl, I've found my iPhone's weekly "screentime" reports the past two weeks telling the true tale.  My desire to numb my feelings finds its home in Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest... small, innocuous distractions that lull me into a state of slumber, like the dragon Orpheus subdued with his music.

However, I've found these drugs to be ridiculously inadequate as of late.  As I lazed on my sofa last night with the glowing screen in front of my face, my heart felt disgusted.  The waste of my precious moments making me increasingly uncomfortable.  Memes entertain, but only for a time. Ongoing jokes about toilet paper felt obnoxious. Kindred souls trying to speak hope and peace feel needed, but I couldn't engage.  

I went to the kitchen to make Puppy Chow.  If you're from the midwest, you know what I'm talking about: that delicious combination of peanut butter, butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chips poured over Chex cereal, then tossed in powdered sugar.  It's been my go-to comfort food lately.  I stood there for a moment, wondering how long I'll feel the need to replenish my Puppy Chow stash.  Will this go on for weeks?  Will I move on to something else? 

Will the world get better?

I enjoy being home, wearing pajamas, and snuggling up with my kids and a good book.  I've indulged in guilt-free movie marathons that have become the norm in our house as of late.  But it still feels weird.  Uncomfortable.

I feel a strong pull to use this time wisely.  

And yet, there's a rub.  

I want to pay attention, but I want to fall asleep to it all.  Both/and.

The ache of the unknown continues to gnaw at my heart.

Yours, too?  

God instilled our minds with the ability to think ahead, to plan, to surmise - these are survival basics.  Yet, when crisis churns, the planning can become fear-driven anxiety.  The foresight morphs into crippling dread.

But what if our foresight is focused on the wrong thing?

Have we considered lifting our gaze to meet His, rather than asking Him to meet ours? He is telling a story so much grander than our own little stories.  Have we considered our smallness in light of His greatness?  His provision, and our lack?  Have we considered our time versus His eternity? 

We need not narcotize.  No numbing required.  

I see His sweet provision on Isaiah 26:1b-4 (ESV)

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

This is my prayer for this "new" Monday and all the coming Mondays: 

Jesus, keep my gaze and my mind fixed upon you.  My wavering emotions will lead me running in circles, chasing my fears and my to-do list...planning, wondering, side-tracked.  Let me not lose this time we seem to have been gifted with our children - let me not sacrifice it on the altar of distraction, but consecrate it as an offering to you.  May you do with me and my life as you see fit.  Remind me to lay my uncertainty, my tendencies, and my mess continually before you, that you would turn these bits of crumbs and dust into something sturdy, steadfast, and wise.  I cannot do this.  I ask: have your way in my heart.  Amen.

 

 

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