Sometimes I think that people who don't know me must think I'm quite the opinionated know-it-all. I wish there was a way to convey the compassion in my heart for people facing hardship or anxiety, or some other unpleasant situation. If I share things it's really only to try to alleviate that in some way. To share the things I learned, maybe spark a thought that forms a helpful change. In that spirit I thought I'd share something that I experienced in the last couple days. Maybe it can encourage you.
I don't have social media anymore. I did for years because I was raising small children and my immediate and extended family were flung across the entire nation. I had friends across the world. I was busy running a little homestead and navigating the stress of a toxic marriage. It was my connection to the outside world and the people I drew from for support. Those days are over and I've had to make a conscious choice to focus on the good.
Doing that while being online is more impossible than you think, even when you tighten the circle of your social media influence. Especially if you're at all politically inclined (like me!). So I deleted it. BUT, I kept my author site, though I don't really use it for anything other than promoting the website and books and reaching out to readers. I hadn't realized the impact nixing Facebook had on my overall wellbeing until the Covid-19 pandemic.
About a decade ago I made the choice to do away with broadcast television. It's one that's easier today than then, with all the streaming services available. For me it was the nonsense programming (seriously, how many shows about bearded millennials in Alaska do we need?) and ceaseless commercials about things you (didn't realize) you need or medications you should have your doctor give you so you can live longer and happier, (or drop dead).
Social media... I just got sick of people. I got sick of the constant offense and argument. Tired of the fighting. Of seeing how terrible this next generation is being raised to behave and think. All these enormous cultural shifts and suicides being thrust on and by the masses. It was exhausting being exposed to so much hopeless, fearful, self-centeredness.
Amazingly, it's been so healthy, and not at all missed. I don't actually need to tell anyone about the minutia of my day, or what I think about any given event or topic. I can just focus on enjoying the world and my life in it. On fully, deeply, connecting with each event as it transpires in the timeline of me. I can filter every bit of noise coming at me. News- I can get what I want when I want. Health information- I can just visit the doctor if I feel the need. Social interaction- I can write a letter or phone a friend, or... focus on my family. It's crazy. I know.
Fast forward to all this disease and death. When things started going south, back around March 10th for me, I battened down the hatches, picked up a few things from the grocery to tide us over for a month, and hunkered in for the long haul, (once a homesteader, always a prepared homesteader). I was out of work and devoted myself to my kids, their education and my own needs and interests. Life is stressful as a single mom, even in my lucky situation, so just relaxing isn't something a lot of us even know how to do. Let alone allow ourselves. But I have been.
I decided to make and decorate pastries. Really focus on my kids' math skills. Make them read more. Do things as a little family of three. Practice kindness more. Devote more time to praying for my man and our life together. Things like that. It's been so enjoyable. And peaceful. So full of rest. I was able to defer payments on the most pressing bills (I keep our cost of living exceptionally low because I can't earn enough to live normal in NYS, I don't know who the heck can...).
Rewind to night before last. I pulled up my author site on Facebook and got caught up watching random videos and reading different posts. Guys. I can't believe how many people, far far away from the biggest red-zone areas of the virus are in an absolute state of despair. There's such a familiar hopelessness that drips from post to video to comment. And that's what I wanted to voice, here, in this post.
There is still good. There is still hope. And it will be okay. There's something about our current culture, mine and younger generations, that steers their lives by the conviction that they shouldn't ever face or experience hardship of any kind. And there's just an absolute undoing within them whenever they do. I think we were told, too, that the world is so much bigger than us, and we are so much without any method of control or security. And there's this belief that being told that it's going to be 'okay' is some how offensive because 'okay' shouldn't ever be precluded by unpleasant. There's more to these thoughts, especially around life and death and coupling, but I'm not sure I can articulate it enough to encourage you.
I just wish someone had told me sooner that none of that was true, and that it isn't the end of the world when bad things happen. There's something more on the other side of being scared. People develop all sorts of ways of coping and getting through and staying strong. Determination is a huge factor. Knowing Jesus is the foundation of it. But good grief, please know that we can experience hardship and terrible things and still be okay on the other side of the hurt.
I haven't been sick in a pandemic. But I have nearly died of disease as a child. It scarred me for life. I was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and took three years to recover. I still have issues with my body from it, especially as I age. So I get it. I can relate. I've watched loved ones get sick and die because no one knows how to treat it. I've spent days hiding in my minivan with a nursing baby and toddler just trying to keep us safe from threats from their 'family'. And a hundred other awful such stories. I'm not on some ivory pedestal judging the masses. I've lived similar. I get it. But there is so much more, and no one's story ends there. It doesn't even end at the grave. Hope always, always remains. Whether we choose to see it, to let it into our souls... that's up to each of us.
If I could wish one thing for everyone it would be to just make peace with yourself and enjoy some quiet. Focus on the okay. Make yourself see the good things.
You are so loved. Whether you believe it or not doesn't change the truth that the creator of all things knew you when the earth was still just an idea, and you were loved so much that he knew he would die the worst death for just you. If you were the only one, that would have been enough for him. A Father like that isn't trying to kill you, or make you suffer, or steal from you, or kill you. We go through terrible things in this life, death being one of them, but none of those trump his love. Dare to get to know him yourself. Not what someone tells you about him. People will tell you all sorts of things they know about him because it suits their stories and experiences. Quite often they'll use his words to do it. That's why he wants relationship with each of us, so we can know the truth and have life. Abundant good life.
Look at this world he created for us. Our every enjoyment and need met in every creeping, growing, earthly thing. Spring is coming. Rain falls frequently now. Maybe a little snow here and there. It's all wet and fresh and crying out with new life.
Look at the things you have around you, no matter how sparse. If all you have are your words and your voice, sweet Jesus people, the world and all in it was made with just that much. Look at your kids. Your spouse. Your family. Turn off the television, lay down the phone, step outside and feel the sunlight. Feel the breeze- cold, or hot, wet or dry... just take it in and feel okay.
Read a book- any book. Fall asleep thinking about wonderful exciting things. Bake some cookies. Practice being okay. You're allowed to, regardless of how much the world is caving in around you.