The United States Divided/COVID-19 Contrast
We’re a country in turmoil, seemingly a people divided, as a COVID-19 contrast makes itself increasingly clearer.
Protect the People
A woman’s daughter was being taken to ICU to be placed on a ventilator due to COVID-19. She tweeted of her struggle and request for prayers for her child. A Facebook post from a woman living in my state caught my attention, a state with low COVID-19 activity presently. It included a picture of two nurses standing in an upper hospital window holding handwritten signs: “He is at peace” and “We are so sorry”. She’d lost her dad to COVID-19. For many, the struggle is real.
I write of our stay-at-home efforts during these unique times as an offer of help to others in my blog Take A Knee – Pause for the Pandemic.
Protect My Rights
Meanwhile, other posts populate social media and stories are highlighted on the news of people protesting Stay-at-Home orders, social distancing, and mask policies. They appear proudly defiant and argumentative. Standing up for their personal rights, many choose to defy advice meant to aid all of our loved ones, friends, and fellow United States citizens.
There’s a stark COVID-19 contrast between the two ways of living right now. Either we strongly want people to take seriously the gravity of this pandemic and the importance of taking measures to protect one another or we’re demanding freedoms we feel we deserve, regardless of the cost to ourselves and others.
A comparison to faith has crossed my mind. Such contrast exists between those of faith and those living in unbelief.
Those Who Submit to God
People who have seen the glory of the Lord, those He’s revealed Himself to, willingly submit to relationship with Him. They allow Him to rule, letting go of their own will, knowing that His ways are higher. Often their faith comes from difficult times during which they’ve seen the hand of God at work. They step away from people, habits, mindsets that didn’t serve Him well and ultimately didn’t serve themselves well either. They embrace a new life, one misunderstood by many. Where struggle was once real, grace is now recognized.
Meanwhile, there are those who not only rebel against the idea of letting go of control and submitting to God for themselves, they rise up to criticize those who have. They boldly argue against His existence. It seems imperative others not follow suit, even when such acts don’t directly impact them.
The interesting factor here, in both scenarios, is first-hand experience.
Direct Experience with COVID-19
Many who’ve unfortunately suffered the horrific effects of the pandemic may be able to appreciate the fight for rights. They may have previously felt the same. However, when tragedy strikes and what was chosen to be disregarded or watched cautiously from a distance becomes first-hand account, the devastating results of this coronavirus can’t be ignored.
Those in mourning may understand those who haven’t yet faced what they have. But those fighting for freedoms lost can’t yet comprehend and don’t agree with the insistence for protection. Therefore, they argue against any adherence, as if submission to guidance is something more tragic. An example is found in this Twitter post by @Lori_Morse56 stating, “The masks aren’t for your protection, they’re a sign of your submission”. Perhaps they’ve yet to experience the coronavirus disaster personally or they simply want it to run its course naturally, but it’s likely they don’t understand fully what those believe who have faced it and been changed by it.
An opinion article, What Is Making You Stay At Home Right Now, written by Todd May and published on April 29, 2020, points to the reality of how connected we, as people, are. “The coronavirus has, among other things, revealed how our daily actions are woven into those of others in ways that have consequences for all of us.”
Personal Experience with God
In Spiritual comparison, when God has revealed Himself to us, our beliefs change. We can trust then, as believers, that God’s able to reveal Himself to unbelievers, just as He did to us. We can understand disbelief and opinions that rise up in opposition to faith, but we don’t have to let them bother us. There’s nothing to prove, because God is mighty and revelation only comes from Him. Better yet, we can participate by praying for them and letting God do His thing.
Similarly, we can have compassion on those who oppose the protective suggestions meant to help during this pandemic. God is in control of these situations as well. We can rest in God and pray for all while living our own realities.
We Are Called to Love Even Those Who Disagree With Us
Though the COVID-19 contrast is presently strong, let God’s peace rule in your heart. As stated by The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina in a message titled A Faith-Based Response to COVID-19, “We are called to love our neighbor.” It refers to the importance of staying home, but don’t forget, we’re also called to love the neighbor that disagrees with us.
Pray, trust, and live in the peace that only God produces, regardless of what’s seen.
God’s Will Be Done
No matter where you fall in the faith or the COVID-19 contrast, rest assured that God’s will is being done. He is in control.
God had me travel today past the very spot that inspired my children’s book Raindrops and Snowflakes. I remember the wonderment I’d had that every drop of water had a purpose and that each one landed where it did intentionally at God’s command. As I looked today, every individual snowflake adhered to many more on the banks of the river were soon to melt, join the flow, and journey elsewhere.
Such is life for us. It often finds us settled, but change happens, sending us in new directions. No matter how much we grasp at controlling the circumstances in our lives, we have purpose and place beyond what we can see today.
As the story unfolds, Rayden Raindrop wonders why. Why are we all so similar to each other and yet have such powerful differences? Why do some not remain here? Why does change happen? We have so much to question God about in this life, but the greatest choice is to trust Him, knowing that His will is of the utmost importance. We can’t understand what the bigger picture is beyond our scope of view, but God knows all. Trust Him.
Newly released copy of Raindrops and Snowflakes 2/22/16.
There is a blessing found there, in letting go of question and control, it’s peace. Allowing freedom of God’s will in your heart also opens your eyes. Until you choose to relinquish your grip, you only see through a limited view. Getting close to Christ, entrusting your life to Him, opens your eyes Spiritually and you’ll then be able to see the blessings that are all around you, blessing that He’s orchestrated and intended to benefit you.
Happy second year anniversary, Raindrops and Snowflakes! May your story bless others.
Fear. It doesn’t just cripple the moment, it taints all aspects of life. It distorts truth. What is perceived as real is far from reality. It hinders. It chains and oppresses. Fear is an entity, a life-robbing being which drapes its wrath about you, impersonating comfort until you’re comfortable in it.
Fear touches the vast crevices of life so that it’s something that can’t be disregarded or discarded. It seems as though it’s imbedded and permanent, part of the very thread that makes up the fabric of who you are and the life you’re living.
Fear. It influences decisions, dictates relationships, and designs schedules.
Consider what sways your decisions, and think on how much of your choices are controlled by fear. We fear others’ opinions, what we are lacking, what our choices today will mean for our tomorrow. We fear for our health and that of our loved ones and friends. We are afraid of death and dying and loss and sorrow. We are overcome by mind-altering grief due to fear that robs us of life and makes us ill.
Are you ready to live life? Are you ready to live fear free? Are you ready to open up your world? Are you ready?
I want us to instead focus on God. Talk to Christ always. Invite His Holy Spirit to dwell within you and grow in a deeply intimate relationship with Him. With the Holy Spirit living inside, God can guide you, encourage you, and fill you with His peace. Also, as He becomes more of a focus in your life, fear is naturally diminished. When we have Christ, first and foremost, at our center, when we choose to keep our eyes on Him, regardless of the circumstances in our life, His qualities fill us to overflowing. Though I know this and encourage it for others, I must confess my own shortcoming.
I’ve been terribly afraid to travel. For whatever reason, the passenger seat of a vehicle makes me overly anxious. During the drivers training of my two older daughters, they both asked me not to ride with them ever again as I was too anxious. It’s never fun to be in the passenger seat where the brake pedal just doesn’t exist. Believe me. I’ve searched for it many a time. My husband has dealt with my anxiety on trips and has at times pulled over and told me to drive.
I desperately want to not feel this way. Interestingly, I trust God with my life, and though I may not understand it, I do desire His will to be done, even when the day comes that it means my earthly death. My husband and I have talked often of traveling the country in the future so I can market my books and speak to audiences about that personal relationship with our Lord. I’m super hesitant, because I’m afraid to be the passenger in our RV but I’m also afraid to drive it. Additionally, I’m petrified to fly.
Ultimately, fear has made my life rather small. I am a homebody. I claim it and enjoy it, but deep inside, I wonder if it is so because it caters to my fears.
About three weeks ago, my second daughter turned twenty-one. She moved to the Los Angeles region just more than a year ago. She’s come home a couple times to visit and often suggests I visit her in LA to which I simply smile, knowing it’ll never happen. That makes me sad though. I’m feeling the limitations fear has put on me and the support I want to show my child. I’m not good at gift giving. I’ve always disliked the idea of giving out of obligation, and I struggle with finding the right gifts. Since Hannah was turning the magical twenty-one, I purchased her two tickets to the LA Winefest, a wine tasting in an outdoor setting in Los Angeles. I felt that her reaction was one of, let’s say, not excitement. She did suggest, however, that I come to it with her as there were two tickets.
I felt bad. I knew that the best gift was something I couldn’t give, my visit. After a lot of prayer and a discussion with my husband, I offered to fly out to see her. Her reaction was precious. From that day on I was anxious. I was filled with fear. Days were spent worrying about the flight, the drive into the city airport, parking, finding the right terminal. Never was I envisioning actually being with my daughter. Perhaps I feared death was imminent before reaching her.
This fear continued for nearly two weeks. I wasn’t excited in the least. My anxiety spread into many areas of my life. Peace was present but it was more of a resignation. One day, my husband was talking about my upcoming trip and commented about how great and relaxing it’ll be to be on vacation. Vacation, I questioned inwardly? Vacation? Never, in all this time, had I considered it vacation. Fear, death, an accident, yes, but vacation in beautiful California with my dearly loved daughter, no.
That word, vacation, hung with me all day long, and I realized that I wanted to believe that. Desperately I wanted to believe that. That was so much more wonderful a belief than the fear that had imbedded itself into my being. At some time that night, I felt like God freed me. I was able to be excited for a few days prior to my departure. On the day I was to leave, I woke early, showered, put my bags into the car, kissed my husband goodbye, drove my son to school, and headed out on my journey. The drive was wonderful as I worshipped and rejoiced, singing along with praise songs on Pandora. When I got close to the city and the traffic got more congested, I had no fear. When I saw a plane overhead, my heart leapt. I would’ve thought it was butterflies from fear, but it wasn’t. I felt, in that moment, that I had just opened a present and that present was the world and an extreme excitement filled me. The fear that had crippled was now unable to stop me from seeing how much bigger life was than just my own home. That revelation, the power of God in me overcoming my fears, caused tears to flow!
I arrived at the airport, got to park in overflow parking which cost less, made my way through security, and sat down to a light lunch fear free. I waited for my flight, boarded the plane, sat between two wonderful people who I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know, watched a movie, saw amazing sights of the country far below (part of which is in my next novel), and arrived to be hugged by my wonderful daughter!
I am sitting here in her living room in Burbank, California, sharing how awesome life is when we fill ourselves up with God so that His Being displaces the false realities of fear. Fear cripples a moment, God relaxes it, and the view of reality transforms. No longer hindered, anything is possible. Fear’s chains can no longer oppress. The comfort impersonated becomes a weight lifted. The view is so much greater now. I pray you, as well, can be filled to overflowing, displacing fear in the process and enjoy the life God has designed for you.