I pulled up to the drive-thru of our recently re-opened library and stared at the plexi-glass screen that now separated myself and the librarian. My heart began to thud. What had seemed like such a simple idea, picking up library books, suddenly seemed like a horrible, even risky idea. After I rang the bell, a librarian wearing scrubs, gloves, and a mask, wordlessly took my library card. My anxiety increased as I self-consciously reached for my own mask. Should I be wearing this? I thought. But, I’m still in my car. The librarian returned a few moments later with my requested books. Perhaps she smiled, but I was unable to notice through her mask. Pleasantries that I have come to expect from living in the South were absent. I drove away with a heavy heart thinking, what are the rules here?
As many areas throughout the country begin the uncertain process of re-opening after Covid-19 shutdowns, perhaps you have had an experience like this. Perhaps you have noticed your stress level increasing as you went to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or even church. Fear runs rampant in our communities. We fear the virus, we fear more shutdowns, we fear life with masks, we fear life without masks, we fear making a mistake, we fear what others will think, and as mothers, most of all, we fear for our families. So many of us are facing difficult decisions right now about the education of our children, about the health of our families, and about our financial stability.
I don’t have an easy answer to these issues. I can only say that I, too, am navigating these stressful waters. However, I know one who has calmed rough waters before. As I seek to lean into him at this time, a few ideas have been helpful to me, and I pray they might be for you also:
- Be not afraid. When the fear surrounding myself and my family rears its ugly head, I am reminded that God is not the author of fear. If I am struggling with anxiety and agitation, it is because I am too distant from the one who brings peace.
- Give and receive grace. Whenever I am sucked into the black hole that is the latest news story, I have noticed that fear steals my ability to be patient with others and myself. Everyone is facing similar struggles right now; give your neighbor a little grace.
- Overcome the noise. Instead of being bent on adding to the noise on social media, in conversations, or anywhere, cultivate silence. Remember that our Lord speaks in a still, small voice. Without silence in our lives, we run the risk of drowning him out.
- Cling to your sense of humor. Despite all the arrows and spacing guidelines, I am chronically walking the wrong way down a “one way” aisle in stores. Rather than panicking, a chuckle at my own expense brightens my day and entertains the lady staring at my clumsiness.