Where is the positive in this craziness??
Last night, I got a text from one of my sweet videographer friends thanking me for these COVID-19 posts to give her something to look forward to reading online at the end of the day. I was so humbly thankful that she said this to me because sometimes, on this end of things, it’s hard to know if anyone cares. Am I wasting my time? There are literally dozens upon dozens of COVID-19 emails sitting in my inbox with similar topics. Why is mine any different or special in any way? The fact is it’s not really. There is likely nothing about my COVID-19 blog post that is any more helpful than the other dozen you’ve been getting other than it’s from a different author. The words are said in a different way because I’m a different human who speaks and writes uniquely to me. Maybe…just maybe…the way I phrase things hits closer to home with some people. Or maybe they have read the same thing over and over and over, and it’s the fifth time they read it that it finally sinks in. Thus, here I am continuing to write. I needed that encouragement from my friend. Wildwood Media, thank you. Your words meant more than you know. I, in turn, asked Jennifer with Wildwood if there were any topics that would help her that I could add to this list. She told me she would like more ideas on how to focus on the positive things. So, here we are.
I’m finding in my own personal life right now that sometimes it’s really easy to find the positive, and other times, it’s really hard. Sometimes, I’m all optimistic and “I can conquer the world,” and other times, I’m spiraling down into a pit of unknowns and scariness. Just in case you are the same, I have some tools to help you!
1a. First of all, if you’re a believer, starting your day with some time in the Bible or some time in prayer is going to help curb those spiraling thoughts of darkness. I’m not saying they are just going to disappear, but the more time you are in sync with Jesus, the less time Satan has to intrude your thoughts with unnecessary worry. I struggle with this right now. I’m preaching to me just as much as I’m preaching to everyone else. In our house, we have a baby waking up every hour, and when my alarm goes off at 6:45am, I cannot open my eyes much less wake up to read my Bible. I usually begin to pray, and by the time I hit word three of my prayer, I’ve passed back out and am woken up by screaming children 15 minutes later. BUT when I DO make time for this and make sure it happens, the rest of the day is ALWAYS better.
1b. If you’re not a believer, I would encourage you to give it a try. Take this extra time to download the Bible app and just see what it has to offer. Just because you read it doesn’t mean you have to believe it, but crack it open to see if there is something that helps you find some additional hope and joy. What’s it gonna hurt?
2a. Cling to what you know is true. After my dad died, I was spiraling out of control ALL the time in my head. I would go down the deep dark pit of all the catastrophic tragedies that could happen to me and start having panic attacks at the thought of them. It wasn’t long after I started to talk to a counselor in search of some help to stop that because it is most certainly not a sustainable lifestyle. She gave me this tool I have used ever since (and this was three years ago exactly). She said, “Every time you start to wander down a road of scary what-ifs, just handcuff yourself to the truth.” She told me to envision myself literally handcuffed to truth, and for me, that truth was written on a whiteboard. It said things like, “Dustin, Grayson, and I are alive and healthy,” “Jesus loves me more than I could ever understand,” “My dad loved me despite what he did (commit suicide),” “Sunshine makes me happy,” “I have a tribe here to help if I need them to.” All of these things were facts I could not deny, and that is where I needed to stay. The downhill spiral of nasty worry was not true. It was ALL “what if” statements that had absolutely no foundation to them. If I was handcuffed to the truth, those false things my mind would make up were too far away to reach me.
2b. For you in this crazy season of COVID-19, handcuff yourself to the facts. “God is for us, and He is in control,” “You will not die from staying home,” “Keeping you and your family safe is important,” “You are important,” “We will make it through this,” “_________,” and fill in the blank with other facts about your life. For me, it would say, “My family is safe and healthy, and we are going to try our hardest to stay that way.”
3a. Be responsible with social media. You can do this in a variety of ways. a) Start following positive and uplifting accounts and unfollow sad and depressing accounts. Interact with those positive accounts (Liking, sharing, commenting) so Instagram and Facebook will start showing you more posts from those accounts. Here are a few I follow on Insta if you would like to go follow them too: godeeperstill, livelovediy (hilarious COVID memes), wellwateredwomen, shorelineknox, desiringgod. b) Delete social media from your phone and stay away from it entirely. c) Only go to social media to share positive things so maybe you will become the positive and uplifting account people start following.
4. Do things you know you enjoy when you find yourself spiraling. If it’s possible to immediately stop what you’re doing and do one of these, do it. For me, that’s going for a jog. Sitting on my front porch. Feeling sunshine on my face. Getting in the floor with my kids. Tickling the pee out of Grayson just so I can hear his belly laugh. Dance parties. Ice Cream. Sending an encouraging text to a friend. Jumping on the trampoline. Or going outside for pretty much any reason lol. Taking pics of the kiddos. Taking a shower. Praying. Starting a fire. Having a hot cup of coffee or tea.
5. Find an accountability partner. For me, this is Dustin. Thankfully, I have a husband that doesn’t overreact about anything. He’s super chill, and he’s really good at taking things one step at a time. I will start spiraling, and I come to him with tears in my eyes and tell him the crazy things my mind made up. He looks me square in the eye and brings me back to earth. If this can be your spouse, that’s great, but if you are both bad about spiraling at the same time, find 3 or 4 friends you can start a group text or a Marco Polo with. When any of you start spiraling, you can call on the others to help bring you back down to earth. It is SO easy to let your mind get out of control. The longer you let it wander, the worst it gets, and the longer it takes to get back to reality. So, stop it early. Marco Polo your accountability partners, and get back on track. P.S. The Marco Polo app is FANTASTIC for social distancing because it truly feels like you are right there with the person conversing with them even though you’re totally not.
So, there are some tips I have for finding the positive, my friends. If you’ve noticed, there has been an encouraging scripture at the end of all of these COVID blogs. This time, instead of leaving you with 1-2 scriptures, I would rather leave you with a story from the Bible. This one comes from Mark 4. I’ll be summarizing the story here, but I encourage you to go read it yourself!
Jesus had been teaching all day long, and at the end of the day, He and His disciples get into a boat to sail across the lake. The waters were still, the skies were clear, and Jesus fell asleep on the boat. About halfway across the lake, all of a sudden, a massive storm erupts and is pulling the boat in every direction. The waves are crashing on deck, and the disciples who were fishermen on this very lake for their whole lives had never seen a storm quite like this one. The storm was getting stronger and stronger and stronger, and they were scared. They went to wake Jesus up saying to Him, “Jesus! Wake up! Don’t you care if we drown????” Jesus looks right at them and says, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Then, He commands the winds and the waves to stop, and the storm dissipates.
Friends. We are in the storm right now. Let’s learn from these disciples and not walk around with little faith. Our God is so much bigger than this virus, than quarantining, and than the death that will follow this pandemic. Let’s have faith in Him and trust He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
P.S. So many churches right now who did not ever have online services are figuring out how to offer online services and are reaching literally 100s and 1,000s more people than they ever use to on any given Sunday. Looks to me like God is already working this out for some good 🙂
P.S.S. Grayson gets to pick two books to read at nap time, and today, one of his books was the Story Book Bible. I flipped it open, and it happened to land on this story above. I fanned through to a different story because we’ve read this one a dozen times recently and asked Gray if he wanted to read one closer to the beginning. He said, “Nope. I want to read the boat one.” So, I went back to that one, and it hit me in a different place today with such a sweet reminder. Hope it does the same for you 🙂