This is a word we're hearing a lot lately, as our world screeches to a halt and life as we know it changes. It can feel big and scary. When the people we have trusted to lead our world admit that they aren't so sure of how this is going to go, our illusion of control melts like chocolate before our very eyes, both indulgent and unsatisfying.
A lot of you have reached out to me and asked how I'm handling the rapid changes here.
I wish I could tell you I'm handling this like a champ. Sometimes I feel like I am and I'm trying new recipes, reading books, working out at home, wearing comfy-cute clothes and living my best, socially-isolated life. Other times, when I'm laying down at night, or see rising numbers in the news and become acutely aware of how isolated I actually am, the anxiety sneaks in through the cracks under my door and seats itself heavily across my chest, making itself a little too comfortable. Those are moments where it's hard to focus on anything and feel a little hopeless.
But as one of my favorite people, Mr. Rogers once said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" And this is true. Among the chaos, I see people pulling themselves up out of the darkness and helping others. There are families cutting up their clothes and making masks for those who don't have any. Musicians are live-streaming concerts. People are hosting online story hours to give parents a break. Everyone is contributing in some way, whether big or small. Some people are only contributing by staying home as much as they can and that is enough.
At this moment, we're walking through a historic event, one that will be written in history books. One our kids will ask us about one day. When my someday children ask me about how I handled myself in this chapter, I want to be proud of what I tell them. I want to tell them about how we all cut up t-shirts to make masks and fought to get our students home. I want to tell them about how many hours I spent on the phone with my friends and family and how often we said, "I love you," after we came face-to-face with what was really important. How many people stepped up to deliver groceries to their elderly neighbors. How many places I saw God's calm in the ambiguity.
Unprecedented. The actions we need to take, in our world and among one another. The earth hasn't stopped turning, but we who live on it need to slow down tremendously. Many of us, myself included, don't know how to do that. From our elementary school days, we were hyper-scheduled and overrun with commitments. In college, I remember watching friends blocking out a meager few hours of sleep in a spreadsheet amongst all the clubs, organizations, studying, internships and classes we were encouraged to take on. Now, that's all been stripped away. We're learning now that we aren't defined by what we fill our days with. We're defined by what we have left when all that is gone. Gone are the days of busy. Gone are the days of running ourselves ragged because we were convinced that our checked boxes on our to-do lists or the length of our CV determines our worth.
Unprecedented. In this moment, we are coming face-to-face with who we are supposed to be and the tenacity of the human spirit. We are compelled now more than ever to live out our calling to love our neighbor as ourselves and lay down our lives for our friends. This isn't necessarily in the most literal sense, but in the things that we give up to protect those who are different from us. Whether that means staying home, foregoing the vacation plans, re-scheduling a visit to an elderly relative and instead helping them install Skype. When we suddenly have to give up many of the things we've taken for granted, it becomes clear that all of these things were only ever gifts in the first place.
So with that, sweet friends, as we walk together into the long night to come, I can't think of a group of people I would want to go with, six feet apart, into the dawn of whatever comes next.