As the predictions about COVID-19 become more dire and Americans cope with another week of major life disruptions, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. The future looks bleak across the board: isolation, stress from being cooped up at home, restless children, economic impact, fear of infection, separation from loved ones, including during huge events like grieving a death – the list of compound losses goes on and on. Almost worse, there is no ending time, no promise that if you just hang on until such and such, all will be well.
Of course you feel depressed, anxious, afraid, and powerless. Be gentle with yourself. No one is getting through this pandemic unaffected. You’re doing the best you can, and that best is OK.
I admit that my default outlook is to a glass half empty. I often approach life with a “What if . . . .?” and both the scenario and the outcome are negative. Frankly, I find super-positive people kind of nauseating. I wonder if these Pollyanna folks are dialed into reality. Sometimes Chicken Little is right and the sky is falling. I’d say this coronavirus pandemic is one of those times.
We’d better be dialed into the seriousness of the situation and the extreme measures that must be taken to survive it. One of my good friends keeps reminding me of how crucial it is to take the drastic steps outlined by the health experts, accompanied by articles to prove the point. (I might have been a teensy bit too lax with the social distancing thing with my adult kids and grandchildren, as well as getting too close to hikers on narrow trails.) My friend is right, of course. And yet . . .
A dollop of Pollyanna spirit is a good thing, especially when it’s founded on truth. Many useful suggestions are circulating about how to get through this new worldscape, and I find the reminders of what hasn’t changed to be most helpful. In the face of so much grief about all the losses associated with COVID-19, I love the lists about the things that persistently continue, like kindness, generosity, people helping people, creativity, laughter, and connection. The ties that bind are still there and often wrap tighter during difficult times. Adversity has a way of making friends out of strangers.
It helps to lean into that positive perspective. A billboard I passed a couple of weeks ago proclaimed, “Put on your positive pants.” What a great idea! Those always fit and are perfect for the occasion.
Faith is still faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1, KJV). I don’t know about you, but I feel God’s presence most during the crushing, not during the constructive times. When I can handle something on my own, that’s exactly what I do. It’s only when I come to the end of myself that I dive deeply into dependence on God.
The God-scape of coronavirus is where it has always been: smack dab in the middle of human experience, including suffering. As this Holy Week unfolds and we revisit the passion of the Christ, we also see the promise of the empty tomb of Easter. We may celebrate this special day differently this year, but the message is unchanging: Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed!
Now that warrants a “Hallelujah!”
Marnie C. Ferree