So my son goes in the Post Office to pick up mail from his box. He comes out laughing. I ask what's so funny. "I just came out of a United States Post Office wearing a mask! Can you imagine that four months ago?"
Actually, there's a whole lot I could never have imagined. COVID-19 has made a bundle of unimaginables into our "normal." Eating out on hold awhile. Hair this long. Church online in our jammies. Toilet paper quotas. Twenty-year-old baseball and football games. Superstar concerts from their basement. Virtual proms and graduations. Schools closed. Parents trying to remember how to invert fractions and conjugate verbs. And millions of masks. And risk calculations on so many everyday activities.
Yes, a lot has changed. Including us. There's a quiet - and sometimes not so quiet - edginess. I'm feeling what millions are feeling - really tired of coronavirus. I wish it was tired of us. I'm pretty sure many of us are coming out of this a different person. The question is, what kind of different?
I can get a test to see if I have coronavirus. But how about a test to see if all this pandemic stress has me? Emotionally. Spiritually.
So I started jotting down some questions that might help evaluate my COVID-19 emotional and spiritual wellness. And with this test, you don't have to wait for the results!
1. Am I a thermostat or a thermometer?
Thermostats set the temperature. Thermometers reflect the temperature around it. Right now we have plenty of thermometers who are letting the heat, uncertainty, and tension in the air determine their attitude. Just when the people around us desperately need one safe person. Someone who's anchored, not anxious or angry; who's listening when everyone else is yelling. Being what Jesus called "the salt (preservative) of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14).
2. Am I thinking mostly about others or myself?
Survival mode is all about me. Consumed with my needs, oblivious to the needs all around me. When I focus on me, I compound my stress. When I help someone else lift their load, mine seems lighter. "He that refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25). It's how my Hero lived: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters" (1 John 3:16).
3. Am I living in today or running ahead to my tomorrow?
Oh, all the "what ifs" and "mights" and "coulds" that are possible in a time like this! But dwelling on those will sink you. I'll go with the Jesus plan: "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34). He wired us to live one day at a time. This day. If I run ahead to tomorrow, I'm running ahead of my divine supply line - because "your strength will equal your day" (Deuteronomy 33:25). His strength will be there on the day I need it. But not today. Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom, said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows. It empties today of its strength."
4. Am I giving out grace or grumpy?
We're all wound pretty tight these days. On social media, in random encounters, even at home, it can get pretty ugly. Thermometer people give what they get. But those thermostats - like Scripture says, their conversation is "always full of grace" (Colossians 4:6). Man, could social media use some grace right now, or what? Grace turns down the heat, avoids the hurt and listens for the heart.
5. Am I focusing on God-sightings or gripe-sightings?
There are plenty of both - it depends on what you're looking for. God's fingerprints are all over the place in this pandemic. For those with eyes to see. One of my "life preserver" Scriptures lately has been Proverbs 19:21 - "Many are the plans in a person's heart; but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." If I dwell on my virus-broken plans, my heart will go dark. But if I choose to look for God's unbreakable purposes and blessings big and small, I can live with contagious joy.
6. Is my Anchor holding?
A lot of anchors aren't. Relationships...financial harbors...job security...future plans...businesses...political hopes. This Cat. 5 hurricane has blown away so many things we thought would always be there. But one remains. Always has, always will. As guaranteed in a Scripture that has been my safe harbor since the day four years ago my Karen was suddenly gone. Speaking of Jesus it affirms: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).
I can, with countless millions over two millennia, attest: "This anchor holds." Unless you have been neglecting being with this Jesus you once were close to. Or if you're missing Jesus. Maybe you've never surrendered the wheel of your life to the One who gave His life to pay for your sin.
There is one love, one "belonging" that is stormproof. Disaster-proof. Death-proof. His name is Jesus. Find Him in this storm, and, yes, you will be different. What God calls "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17)!