These are strange times.
Recently I heard our governor say that there were one hundred thousand more claims for unemployment assistance in March than all of last year. It’s unprecedented and the system couldn’t handle it. People are frustrated and desperate, tired of waiting and anxious for their future.
There there are the mask wars. Perfectly nice people are making harsh judgment about people who don’t wear them and other equally wonderful people are taking a hard stance against being told they must. It’s crossed the line to religion, with some declaring anyone not wearing a mask in public as not being Christlike.
Others are boldly redirecting errant shoppers who are walking the wrong way down an aisle at Publix, the place where shopping used to be a pleasure but now feels more like a twist up of Survivor and Amazing Race.
I firmly believe that whether you are anxiously awaiting the reopening of your nail salon or think we should shelter in place all summer you are a good person who is processing information and dealing with this “thing that’s going on” as best you know how.
The reason I believe that is I know you. I’ve had conversations with you and listened to your heart. You know who doesn’t believe that about you? The guy on the neighborhood app or the local Facebook page who loves to troll and bait and wait for a reaction.
About a year ago I listened to a podcast by Emily P. Freeman. She talked about the need to assess anxiety triggers in everyday routine. I began paying attention to the things that appeared in my inbox, in my social media feeds and the things I was listening to and reading.
While I couldn’t silence them all, I identified a number that I realized I was choosing to allow into my space. To begin, I followed Emily’s advice and turned off all notifications on my smartphone. I moved social media apps to the last page on my phone, where they were less tempting when answering a text message or using navigation.
The biggest trigger I identified was from Facebook groups. I realized that the level of rude and unkind behavior there was causing me to waver between anger and sadness. I left the groups just like I would walk away from a conversation overheard in a coffee shop.
My next step was to begin unfollowing people. When I encountered a post that caused me to begin to tremble in my spirit, or to feel fussy, irritated or bothered, I chose to quiet that voice. I began to ignore with intention the voices that were outside of my true circle of influence and physical space by unfollowing and unfriending.
Two years later, I still don’t want to argue or watch others argue but I’ve realized that’s become the new normal. So here I am again, doing the work to silence the source of the trembling.
We each have a measure of energy for every day; some more than others, but everyone is limited. In times like these, when taking care of ourselves and those around us is critical, I want my choices, my conversations and my mental, physical and spiritual energy to be for things that matter.
I’ll close today with a prayer for us, my dear friends and readers:
We don’t know when this storm will pass (or if it will at all) but we know you, the one who promised to be with us in every storm. Our bodies are tired, our minds are overwhelmed by the data, and our spirits are heavy with the weight of it all. Many are anxious over lost wages, poor health and stressed relationships. There are so many things that cannot and should not be silenced. But in your loving kindness grant us wisdom the silence the voices that we should. You are our God, we are your people. Today, may we hear your voice.
In the name of and by the grace granted to us through Christ,
Be Well. Be Safe. Be the compassion of Christ. And Beware: if you see me in Publix and I’m walking the wrong way, I am not being deliberately thoughtless but more likely overwhelmed. I’m a nice Southern lady but if you have the nerve to tell me I’m going the wrong way my response may be less church lady and more Tasmanian devil.
By grace alone,
If you would like to hear more from Emily P. Freeman, I highly recommend her Tuesday podcast, The Next Right Thing. You can find it on any podcast application.