Fear has landed in our country, and even after the passing of Easter, it remains. Fear is gripping the world.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister was one of the first leaders to respond to a specific fear:
“The Easter Bunny and Tooth Ferry have been designated as essential workers.”
The news spread quickly to other countries, and more world leaders followed suit. A humorous take on a very real fear that is dominating children’s thoughts everywhere.
Easter isn’t just about chocolate Bunnies and Eggs, or the teeth you lose when consuming too much of them. The reality is that there is much more causing anxiety for children during these times. Friends miss friends; some kids even miss school. They miss their teammates from their sports’ leagues. Outdoor playtime is now complicated, the local Ice Cream Shop is closed, and restaurants are only offering take-out. Birthday parties are being missed forever scarring the year of 2020 in their memories. Children miss hugs from Grandma and Grandpa and wonder if an Easter Menu Dinner has changed. Did you still have ham and scalloped potatoes or turkey and stuffing (whatever your tradition) My kids weren’t concerned about the vegetables.
Beyond our little ones, everyone is struggling with fear. No one is immune, no matter the age. We’re all human. Easter is often the occasion to gather with family and friends. Some attend a religious service, even if only for an annual or bi-annual appearance. But in this year of 2020, there is a high probability there was no public gathering for you, whether religious or not. And if you didn’t gather with others…Good for You! Thank you for being a responsible human.
"Beyond our little ones, everyone is struggling with fear."
So many of us are trying to cope with stay-at-home orders. If we’re honest, fear, just like this virus is plaguing us. In this post, we’re going to address this reality by getting you thinking about your answers to a couple of questions. There will be some content provided, but most importantly, we want to create dialogue between you and others.
1.) How are you coping with fear?
2.) How has this time impacted your faith?
How are you coping with fear?
Social distancing is hard. Stay-at-home time is more difficult for some than others, but the longer this goes on, the harder it gets. Someone clarified recently that it would be more appropriate to call this mandate “physical distancing”. In other words:
Keep your physical distance but look for ways to stay socially connected.
To be honest, we’re lucky to live in an era where we can connect virtually. We can do so with others almost anytime we want to, essentially anywhere in the world. Even if technology is not your thing, choose your spots. With whom would you normally have regular coffee dates? Who would you typically meet up with at your local pub? Keep connecting with these people, virtually. Choose whatever platform you like. And while you’re at it, consider local businesses that are struggling. Can you afford take-out? Leave a generous tip. If you’re on the phone placing an order, ask the owners how they’re doing. Thank them for being open for business. Consider leaving a credit for a friend for their next coffee or meal.
Like I already mentioned, these times are hard. Those feelings should be validated. It’s okay for this to suck. If you have young children, you are trying to homeschool and sometimes even work simultaneously, both from HOME! Marriages and Relationships are under stress right now. Even if you like your partner and kids, this 24-7 stay-at-home is hard to handle. Anxiety has ballooned. Most of us fear the unknown which includes our health, our finances and our relationships to name just a few.
I just took a deep breath after re-reading that myself. Maybe it’s time you take one too, before we continue.
Isolation affects us all. Even the lack of physical touch makes us feel less human. We’re all going to have a bad day here and there. Don’t let the bad days stack up. Reach out. Mental health professionals are available and qualified to help. In the meantime, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:
How is your sleep?
What are you eating?
What are you drinking?
What kind of exercise are you getting?
What are you reading?
What are you watching?
Who are you connecting with?
How has this time impacted your faith?
Followers of Jesus have been celebrating his death and resurrection for more than 2,000 years. But this year, most Christians around the world didn’t gather, at least not physically. Many found their way into a virtual worship space (likely some of you reading this post are among those virtual worshippers) to join with the Easter celebrations globally.
But I bet it didn’t feel quite the same did it?
We all crave connection whether we want to admit it or not. We were created to be in relationship with our creator and with each other.
Some of my all-time favorite writing is found in the book of Hebrews. These words are an exhortation to a group of Jesus followers, with a call to persevere. I like referring to these as the Five "Let us" Statements. Below are my words of paraphrase:
(For context, and a literal word for word account, please refer to Hebrews 10:19-25)
1.) “Let us” draw near
2.) “Let us” hold to hope
3.) “Let us” spur each other on
4.) “Let us” meet together
5.) “Let us” encourage one another
As I review this list, it seems like the only one we cannot do during this time of fear is #4.
But thanks to modern tech, you can still meet together virtually.
Draw near to God… How are you practicing this?
(music, reading, journaling, etc)
Hold to hope in Christ… How are you nurturing this?
(memorize truth, meditate)
Spur each other on… How are you spreading love and good deeds?
(support local business, check in on neighbours)
Meet together… How are you meeting VIRTUALLY?
(use different platforms, make sure kids are connecting with friends)
Encourage one another… How are you encouraging others?
(thank an essential worker, make a phone call, send some texts)
It is possible to use these uncertain times laced with fear to grow in faith. James, the brother of Jesus reflected that times of testing produce in us perseverance. How we respond to this fear matters.
Choose a “let us” statement; choose two or three. Reflect on them, and then decide how you will act. Remember that the author of Hebrews wrote this as a call to persevere in the face of trial, persecution and hardship.
Finally, share what you did and how it felt with someone else. Consider leaving a comment here as well.
Let’s spread some hope as an antidote to fear, remembering that perfect love drives out fear. God’s love is the only perfect love, but our love for each other will help us combat fear collectively. Jesus himself encouraged his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” John 13:34
The resurrection wasn’t cancelled this year. Jesus rose from the dead over 2,000 years ago. We were just invited to celebrate Easter in different ways. You likely had some of these thoughts, feelings, and reflections around your table over the weekend. Once we can invite people again into our homes and around our physical tables, what will we have learned?
Stay physically distanced; Remain socially connected.
Hopefully an essential worker like the Easter Bunny showed up. Be thankful that essential workers such as doctors, nurses, first responders and truck drivers (including garbage trucks) show up every day.
Thanks for reading.
Written by JP, friend of Open Table Communities