It is ok to be Afraid
I have spent the past week trying to be ok. I am not.
I remember sitting at work one week ago and being asked to triage all of my patients into 3 categories of priority for the next 3 weeks. Curious. Hmm. Well, this is good, I thought, "We are preparing". Then, the onslaught of emails ensued. You know the one that caught my eye? It was that yearly half marathon I run in April that was canceled. April. March just started! What is going on? And by the way, is that canceled or cancelled?
That's how my thoughts have been. They have been All. Over. The. Place. And this post will likely feel the same. Because that is where I am. I figured I could share my story, my heart, my fears and my hope with those of you who are interested.
After triaging all of my patients for the next three weeks as requested, I submitted a grant with high hopes of receiving the money for supplies for our growing feeding team at the NC Children's Hospital. Life as usual, sort of.
I raced out of work, picked up my son, visited our favorite youth pastor and went on a run. My husband and I pounded messages to one another about who would take each of our other two to their prospective little league practices. We met in the middle, were both late (also, life as usual) and I decided a quick grocery store run was probably a good idea.
Middle School Baseball postponed until April 6th. How could I muster the words to tell my baseball loving boy, the one who's best self is found on that diamond? Fear beginning to creep in, I told him. Appropriate disappointment followed and I found myself longing for my warm bed at home with covers enough to drown out the worries in my mind.
I hate that I am a worrier. I often feed guilty about worrying. Especially as a Christian. I am well aware of what the bible says about worrying. God takes care of us, one day at a time. He provides manna (heavenly food as referenced in Exodus 16) for our every one day at a time. It cannot be stored for tomorrow, for it will spoil. I do trust God, I know He has me and all of us in the palm of His hand. I don't doubt that. It is my flesh, my thoughts, my real fears that I need to voice and be ok with doing so without judgement or Christianese fluff that is, albiet true, hard to embrace right now.
I have quickly gone from the "simple" triaging patients to figuring out how to help my kids with "distance learning" while my husband and I work, determining best social distance practicing, thoughtfully advising my Baby Boomer parents, filling up my grocery basket with enough but not too much, making sure all household prescriptions are up to date and filled (I am speaking to my anxiety here people), deciding giving up Lent is ok (I am needing chocolate right now) and disciplining myself to read my bible daily. This, all while I am dealing with the real question - what will be asked of me as a pediatric nurse practitioner? I am not on the front lines, but will I be asked? When will they ask? What capacity can I help or will I be asked to help? What will I do with my kids? What about all of my colleagues who are on the front lines? I want to help, but need to be here too, with my kids. I am not trained to use a ventilator, but I can be if needed?
Friends, it is ok to talk about being afraid right now. I want you to hear me. It is not ok to continually dwell there. But, there is a reality of this pandemic and the associated fear that must be addressed and not glossed over. This is where we can be there for each other virtually. We can be real. We can say we are not ok. We can cry. We can chose to laugh at silly memes because laughter is good medicine. We can embrace distraction (three of my favorites so far have been virtual teaching by my parents via Duo to my kids, a duo phone call with a glass of wine with two of my besties and a collection of beautiful peaceful photography from my friend, Roy).
And we can remember and be reminded of this comforting truth. If God can part the Red Sea, he can walk us through this raging coronavirus sea to dry land too. This amazing story of God's protection from fear, evil, destruction and panic seems relevant. When the enemy was fast approaching, God actually parted the waters of a sea, allowed His people to pass through unscathed and then released those same waters to destroy the enemy. The same waters that saved the Israelites, destroyed the enemy.
Exodus 14 is called "The Story and Song of Salvation" in the Message version of the bible. Please read it. This is what is holding me right now, this and the Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer. Exodus 14 because of the imagery of God doing the same for us with the coronavirus - allowing us to walk through the raging sea of viral chaos to health, destroying covid-19 in one huge crashing wave of medical intelligence and advance. The Armor of God because we need to be on guard for how the enemy will try to use fear to cripple us and cause a spiral of doubt.
Please hear me, I did not say fear was wrong. Fear is as real as my breath that is going in and out of my lungs right now. Fear can drive us to despair or action. And honestly, it has driven me to straight internal panic in the past week. I haven't wanted my kids to see that, so I have hidden it inside. I have uttered short to the point prayers in the form of, "God I need help." I am releasing my vulnerable fear now and invite you to join with me in safety of emotions. We all have to be real right now. And I fully believe that in the being real, we connect, we open ourselves up to new thoughts and ideas, we learn and we are changed for good. We will get through this, we will not gloss over it, we will get through it. And going through such a catastrophic time IS hard. It is good to acknowledge fear, for once we name our enemy, then we can develop tactics to defeat him/it.
The same water that will save us will also destroy the enemy. The living, breathing, fear fighting and conquering water also has a name. That water's name is Jesus. And if anyone understands fear, doubt, panic - it is Him. When He went to that cross to die for us, he sure begged God to "take that cup" from Him, questioning why, just why would God forsake Him. He was real with His emotions. And look where that got Him. Being real got Jesus the position of being our Resurrected Savior. He understands where we are. He understands being real. He endured the pain, fought the fear enemy and had more power than any earthly man made weapon. That power raised Him from the dead. Friends, that is the same power that we have full access to today.
Let us remember the power of God to part the water of the Red Sea and the power of the living water, Jesus to be raised from the dead. This type of power is power that we can thrust our fears upon. This type of power can take the heat of our realness. This type of power is supernatural. This type of power wins every time. This type of power will beat this pandemic. Amen.