Although, in many ways, it feels as if COVID-19 pushed the pause button on our world, other life challenges are happening. People are still dealing with other types of illnesses and are hospitalized or in need of surgery. Some are grieving deaths unrelated to COVID-19, and others are recovering from weather events that happened earlier in the year.
Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes ripped through our area of the country again Sunday night, sending us to shelter deeper in the places where we are already sheltering in place. As we listened to the wind howl and prayed to be spared additional damage as follow up to the February tornado, a phrase came to mind that I have often said, “We hardly ever get to do one hard thing at a time.”
As morning dawned, I heard the birds singing as if storms hadn’t raged all night. I watched as a Carolina Wren investigated real estate on our porch, flitting from one hanging pot to the next, looking for a suitable location for her nest. The sun slanted through the trees, painting a dappled patchwork across the yard, and I felt at peace.
We all experience seasons of life when we feel bombarded by multiple difficulties. COVID-19 has been likened to a war against an invisible enemy, but maybe you are fighting battles on other fronts as well. Perhaps you are dealing with a job loss, pre-existing health issues, displacement from your home, financial instability, or a strained relationship. Whatever your situation, in time, there will be calm, after your storm.
Here are some suggestions to help you cope with current storms while you wait for future calm:
Learn from the Past
When I think about other times in my life when I experienced prolonged challenges, I remember what I learned. Revelation didn’t always occur during the crisis, but dawned afterwards. Resolution came. Stress moderated. Calm returned, and I was able to see God’s faithfulness in providing, equipping, and sustaining.
Despite all the pronouncements of “we’ll get through this together,” the combination of fear, stress, abnormal routine, isolation and/or too much togetherness produces intense emotions. On a social media thread, people confessed to crying at unanticipated times over seemingly nothing. Or dealing with people who have shifted from kindness to anger.
It’s okay to feel emotional about our current situation and all the satellite circumstances many are dealing with. But find a method of dealing with anger that doesn’t involve spewing it on those who are providing services, or on your loved ones. Release emotions through exercise, cleaning, gardening, or by writing your emotions in private pages, not on social media. Dealing with emotions will enhance the ability to experience calmness, now and in the future.
A pearl forms when a wayward food particle or parasite (rather than the proverbial grain of sand) lodges in an oyster. The subsequent irritation causes the mollusk to secrete fluids that coat the particle. These fluids are the same substances that create the shell.
When we encounter difficult circumstances, we view them as irritants, but unlike the oyster, we don’t always create something of beauty from the situation. You can choose to allow difficulties to strengthen you, or you can let them have a negative impact on you, bringing bitterness and resentment. By choosing to grow through times of crisis, you increase your ability to weather coming storms.
Hold on to Hope
Hopelessness is one of the devil’s greatest weapons. Hopelessness says, “this situation will never get any better,” but that is a lie. No matter what you are facing, the storm will pass. Even if you sustain damage, you can repair, rebuild, and sustain forward motion.
Look to the Future
One of the hardest elements of the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation is there is no definite time frame. We don’t know when life as we remember it will resume. We don’t know when a vaccine will be available. We don’t know when the curve will flatten.
But if you think about it, there is much about life we don’t know and can’t control. We just dupe ourselves into thinking we know what’s happening next because we create routines and schedules for ourselves.
While the last few weeks feel like an eternity, they are a blip on the radar screen of life. We will move forward, and the shortages, fears, and heartaches of today will fade into the past. Like the calm after a storm, the future is full of promise and hope. Trust God to see you through.
“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:21-24 GNT
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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Thank you for this message – we need it!
Thank you, Harriet!