How to stay calm in testing times
Last week I received a voicemail from a friend in Seattle – we live 5000 miles apart, with a time difference of 8 hours.
I was amazed however, how our lives look very similar right now.
Both of us entered into the realm of home schooling our kids, our daily life is restricted to staying at home most of the time, every event is canceled, we live in that uncertainness how tomorrow will be…(both of us hade sunny but chilly weather and a garden to do some projects in) it was amazing to hear her talk and have the feeling of « wow, that’s my life too ! » I know most of you live in that reality right now.
How are you doing?
How are you coping with that reality we live in in this period of time ?
How are you dealing with the many changes that have occurred lately, without knowing when – and if- life will go back to normal?!
For my part, I think it’s pretty stressful.
Dealing with the many additional emotions is what challenges me most.
A few minutes ago, a tractor took away the two goals that were on the football field in front of our house. Of course, no one is supposed to meet up and play soccer right now. And still, I felt emotions of powerlessness and frustration rising up in me. My boy expressed what I was feeling : “Oh mom, I hate this virus”. I looked at him, saying: “I know, darling, it’s a challenging time. Me too, I wish things will soon go back to normal where you can meet up with friends and go to school again. But for now, we make the most of our time as a family, are you ready to do that?” He looked at me nodding with a pensive expression.
Many years ago I listened to a teaching, where the teacher compared our lives to the different types of birds. I don’t remember everything, but she mentioned at least 4 kinds of birds:
The ostrich, the chicken, the raven and the eagle.
The ostrich, as we know, puts his head into the sand when it’s overwhelmed.
The chicken’s life is limited to flapping around and dispute over a worm with another chicken.
The ravens are a picture of people talking negatively about anyone, judging their every act.
And the eagle – well the eagle is the one flying above everything, with boldness, dignity and calm. The eagle uses bad weather to rise even higher.
“Taking that teaching for our situation right now, we can easily recognize the different people around us – and well, we can also recognize ourselves.
A person acting like an ostrich would be too scared to face this present time. Overcome with fear, she would withdraw into hiding, enter into panic when she hears a person cough from afar. Every news about more people infected or more deaths would drive her into a state of total hopelessness.
A person acting like a chicken is scared too – but is much more acting out. Fighting over a pack of toilet paper or pasta, being very nervous reading all the news on social media or in the newspaper, watching news on TV. There is no peace of calm, and social media is filled with comments from people acting this way.
A person acting like a raven is sowing resentment and negative talk all around her. Her attitude judges anyone – from the mother on the street with her small children “How can she go for a walk with her kids right now? She should just stay home!” to condemning anyone buying more than 1 pack of pasta or toilet paper (ignoring that this very person may be out shopping for her elderly neighbors.) She feels entitled to know anyone’s motives and judges their every move, and likes to talk with other people about it.
Note that I always wrote “a person acting like” … Because well, how one does behave doesn’t speak about who this person is. However, it shows something about where this person is AT and her deep beliefs about herself, others and God – and how she’s reacting to what’s happening in this unique (and yes, very stressful!) season of her life.
Reflecting on my own behavior, I admit that I’m not always gentle, peaceful, loving and relaxed. There are times when I feel fear rising inside of me. Feelings of anxiety or impatience at other peoples behaviors and demands.
There used to be times when Benny called me gently his “rebel wife” because I was reacting strongly to some news or expectation on me in a way I normally wouldn’t – even if I was only telling him how I feel at the moment.
But in the end – I want to rise up like an eagle above the circumstances, letting the wind carry me through these challenging times. I want to reflect on anyone I meet – like the shop assistant in grocery store, my friends through social media or my own family I live with – with peace, boldness and calm.
I asked myself:
“How can I get there? How can I, in midst of our reality, act like an eagle?”
In this article I would like to show you a couple of thoughts and how I learn to apply them in my own life.
Be true to where you stand.
Are you scared? Are you panicked and did you buy all the shops empty? Is anguish part of your reality and can’t you sleep any more at night, fearing what tomorrow will bring? Do you deal with feelings of hopelessness because your business is running downhill or you can’t work anymore at your job?
You can’t just start to fly by overruling these emotions with positive thinking or trying to be strong. Because, well, the “true” feeling will surface earlier or later!
That means, facing the emotions is vital. Being true to yourself and admit how you feel is the first step, because those feelings undealt with will lead your actions and make you act like a ostrich, chicken or a raven!
Everyone is different in facing these emotions. Some need a punching bag (if not available, a pillow will do), others are good at writing, singing, talking with a good friend (skype works wonderfully for that). Whatever you choose as a method, keep in mind that the ultimate person who knows you deeply, loves you and is well capable to give you peace in midst of the storm is Jesus Christ. Taking time in his presence, simply coming before him and pouring out your heart (with all your emotions) will change how you feel and not only that – it will change your view about the situation. Going back to the different birds, it’s like the bird in the chicken yard realizing it wasn’t a chicken after all – but an eagle dwelling in the wrong place.
I did that today. Waking up, I felt anxious and tired, even after a good night’s sleep. I took time in the presence of God – I had only 15 minutes until I had to go back to my four kids and give them breakfast to get them ready for a day of homeschooling – but these 15 minutes changed my day. I was able to shed some tears, telling God how I felt. Almost immediately I felt God telling me: I am your provider, remember? My name is Jehove Jireh as it says in Genesis 22:14:
From that day forward, Abraham called that place, “The Eternal One will provide (Jehova-Jireh).” Because of this, people still today say, “On the Mount of the Eternal, all will be provided.”
You see, I wasn’t sure why I felt the way I did. But He knew, and he came into those emotions so that I could relax, act out from a place of peace and boldness instead on how I felt initially when I was getting up! The verses in Isaiah 40:31 became reality:
«but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”