Entering a Pandemic

It has been over 6 months since I last wrote… and a LOT has happened since then – let me briefly catch you up:

The Good – We officially opened R&P Coffee Co. between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it has been amazing (that story starts here)! We easily met more people in our community in the 6 weeks after opening than we had in the 6 years we lived here. I have sooooo many things to share – but that’s for another day!

The Bad – My struggle with depression intensified a bit with opening the shop. While I did have a peace with all that was happening, change is always a challenge for me.

The Ugly – Well….I hate to state the obvious…but we entered a global pandemic. Less than 3 full months into operating a new business/ministry, still struggling with the adjustments, and the whole world got flipped on it’s head. Needless to say, the whole depression issue got much worse.

BUT…it did get better.

I wrote the following on my typewriter on the day they announced that schools were closed for 2 weeks (over 2 months ago…):

As I sat on the couch, it became clear that I was not okay. I was not myself.

The shelves sat half empty, but as I walked through the aisles, as I heard the whispers and saw the face masks, it became very clear to me that the world would be different now. No matter what, none of us would be the same. It wasn’t about not having bread or milk, or heck, even toilet paper, it was the fact that history was, no is, being made. Tomorrow we will wake up to face a future that no American has experienced before. We may be entering an era much like the depression. Fianances are going to be hit hard. The economy is rapidly tanking in a way we have never seen. Or it could blow over and we will look back at this as a time we overreacted to a bad cold.

But today, I was going to remember how it was. I was going to remember the way I could pick up my phone and connect with anyone I could dream of in a matter of moments. I have to remember the look of joy as my kids had their season’s first ice cream, or the giggles as they spilled some in the midst of sharing even though I’ve reminded them 100x that sharing isn’t the best idea right now. I want to remember the hope of opening the coffee shop and wanting to make a difference right here where we are. I want to remember the innocence of my children – they have no fear, no worrries, no second thoughts. They haven’t been to the store and heard the hushed whispers of the unsure or seen the terror of a group of teens (maybe 20 somethings) wearing face masks and debating how they are best going to spend their $50. Would it be name brand medicine (all thats left) or their favorite snacks? My children don’t see the overwhelmed widow who is staring at the empty shelves and wondering what tomorrow is going to hold. They are oblivious to the severity of the week’s events. All they know is that they get more time to play at home, that Mommy is home a bit more – and that’s all good for them.

My thoughts are jumbled, jumping around like the jumping beans I used to play with in grade school. One moment I think its all silly – we’re going to wake up and realize it was all an overreaction – like when I get angry at my husband for not rinsing the dishes. I say something ridiculous, we end up fighting all night, and then realize it was all over a dish, a simple, silly little dish. But then I look at the world around us and the turmoil that are already facing and I fear that we have underreacted. I fear that we haven’t done enough. In two weeks, I hope I’m not laying on the couch finding it difficult to breathe while my kids lay in the other room coughing and hacking because we’ve been carrying around COVID-19 this whole time. And while I’m 95% certain we would all survive, what about all of the immune compromised individuals I ran into in that time frame? The eldery? Those currently undergoing chemo or on other life-altering drugs? There is such a fine line between being smart and being fearful. Just as their is a very find line between being selfish and common sense.

We may never know the direct impact we each have had with our choices. But the consequences remain despite our knowledge. Just because we don’t see the consequences doesn’t mean that they don’t happen. Just because I don’t see the elderly couple in despair in the canned good section of the grocery store or the new mom staring at empty diaper shelves, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Every choice we make has ripples of impact.

It is an easy time to forget that the world is so much larger than just us. Do I bunker down or do we go out and help? What is tomorrow going to look like? What about a month from now? Or 6 months? Or even a year from now? I have a feeling our lives are going to look completely different for so many reasons. Our healthcare system is probably going to be getting an overhaul and be seriously backed up dealing with the side effects of now. Anxiety is heightened, depression , inflammation, and lots of other things. All the non-essentials are going to be pushed to the side for now and its going to take some time to catch back up. We already have 6 month waiting lists for things like genetics, infectious disease, or even rheumatology. It’s only going to get worse. We have ORs being turned into ICUs! Surgeries are being postponed so that we can care for the critically ill. I keep pinching myself because this has to be a dream. Or a movie. I’m just an actor in a new version of The Truman Show, right?

Not to mention, our economy is going to take a long time to get back on track...

I don’t know if I will ever forget this feeling of the unknown, of how unsure I am of the next week, of how much I truly have to depend on the Holy Spirit for peace. And I’m not just pretending to do that because of the stress I put on myself. Now, I HAVE to depend on Him, on His Word, because almost everything is out of my control. I literally, maybe for the first time in my life, have no clue what tomorrow holds. I don’t know if we will have enough food or enough money. I don’t know if we will all stay healthy or if we will still be able to keep our jobs or our house. My head tells me to be afraid, but my heart know that God is here. He is still in control, He is holding my hand, my heart, and my family in the palm of His almighty hand.

It doesn’t mean that it won’t be difficult, but it does mean that the worst thing, the very worst thing, death itself, in a way, is actually a gift. If the worst happens, it will be the best day of my eternal life. My head just wants to know what comes between now and then. How hard will it be? How many people will I lose before it is my turn? Will I outlive my children? Will my parents outlive me? Will I get to see my children grow? Or what about little things – will we get to go to the beach this year? Will Justin and I get to travel next year? Or ever? How different will our lives be in 2021 – after the virus? What will we have endured? Who will we have lost along the way? Will everything we’ve worked so hard for at R&P suddenly be gone? I don’t know.

And while my mind is constantly playing these questions on repeat, I really do have a peace that surpasses all understanding. For, as cliche as it might be, though I do not know what tomorrow holds, I do know who holds the future. He loves me, He loves my parents, my grandparents, and my children more than I ever could. And He is working all things for our good and His glory. I may not be able to see Him weaving all of the mess together, but I have an assurance that He is. He always has, He always will. Until eternity He is weaving a tapestry that will shout His name, show His love, and open our eye in wonder. I just have to trust Him in the meantime. And today, I am. I hope that stays the same tomorrow and the next day and the next. I hope I remember to rely on His peace in the coming chaos like I have in today’s turmoil.

He is good. He is God. I am not.

And neither is COVID-19 or the media or the fear that has caused complete chaos at Walmart.

The irony in all of this – I type all of these thoughts on a typewriter made by Smith (….wait for it….) Smith-Corona! Ha!

It will be okay.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard or that it won’t hurt. It simply means that God is still on the throne.

He loves you.
You matter.
And you are never alone.

I look back on these words and some of the concern has disappated, some has not. I still have some of the same thoughts, added with a mixture of confusion on how to move forward.

But the Truth still remains and I am so very grateful for that.

One thing I have learned during this season – grace. Grace for others is SO crucial!! We all have different opinions and we cannot think less of those who think differently. We’re all just trying to do our best. We must LOVE FIRST as Jesus Himself exemplified. Show grace, love others, put your faith and hope in Christ, and keep taking the next step forward.