All I want to do is be real. I'm fighting to be honest in a world drowned in lies. I'm reaching for the truth in an age of misinformation, distrust, and blindness. We are - I am - OVERWHELMED.
A million news stories crowd my inbox. Tweets spring up like wildfire; Facebook posts are a hurricane, a torrent of fear and naked hate. And what - tell me, what - has this done for us?
A global pandemic is sweeping the world for the first time since 2009, the H1N1 epidemic. We're showing no signs of slowing down, and our death toll may have already surpassed that of the swine flu. All the news stories in the world can't protect us from the bare truth; things aren't looking up. The only way we can stop this is by becoming a global united front. By joining together as one - human - rather than divided by race or nationality.
Tragedy has a long and strange history of bringing people together. Maybe it's God, finding a way to twist even the worst of this world into something resembling hope. After 9/11, America put aside it's divisiveness in a way it hadn't done before and hasn't since, bar, perhaps, Pearl Harbor. The mass shootings in Vegas, Parkland, Newtown, (and so many others) sparked a viral youth movement the likes of which hasn't happened here since the Vietnam War.
And now, all of a sudden, the entire world is faced with the exact. same. tragedy.
We can't control it; we can't stop it. We can do our best, but it's nature, and everyone knows humans are powerless in the face of nature's whims. And we are all afraid. You see it on the news, as death toll estimates keep climbing. You see it on Facebook, your garden variety deniers (it's a hoax! Fake news! and they somehow manage to make this political, like, how??), your anxiety-ridden toilet paper hoarders, your peace-be-with-you yoga chicks who think you just gotta meditate and everything's going to be fine. Humans are funny creatures, and we cannot bear being faced with something that's out of our control. So we're just desperately trying to calm our nerves by creating a false sense of security, whether that be by claiming the tragedy isn't real, overpreparing for disaster, or zen-ning our way through a crisis.
But the truth is there is really nothing here we can control, or in life for that matter. I don't believe that this pandemic is by God's hand. I am religious, yes, but I don't think God would purposefully send such instruments of death to us just because we've been "bad," or whatever. That's not my style. I've experienced God, and I know that He is the most loving and gracious of parents, and no parent would want their children to suffer, to die as "punishment". That's not discipline, that's abuse.
No, my take on the horrors and trials of this world is that they spring from being human. We live in a broken, fallen, messy, crazy (beautiful) world. God doesn't create nor design tragedy. It simply happens. But God does react to tragedy. He reacts to it with sorrow but not resignation. He twists and shapes and molds that tragedy like clay into something better. Into something shaped and molded and twisted into hope.
That's what the world needs right now; people following in the footsteps of God. I don't care if you are religious. We can all agree that the world needs a little faith, a little hope, and a lot of love.
We don't need screaming Facebook updates in ALL CAPS! We don't need panic buyers storming grocery stores for their last roll of toilet paper. We don't need doomsdayers letting everyone know "oh, we're all 'bout to be dead." We don't need yoga instructors asking us all to clear our heads and forget about our troubles. And we definitely don't need to pretend this isn't happening. It's here, it's happening, and we're out of control; that's something we have to accept.
So take that fear. Feel it. Hold it in your chest and know it's real. Acknowledge the fear. Thank it.
Tell your fear:
"I recognize you, and I think of you as a friend. You're well-meaning. You're only trying to protect me. You're just a scared little kid that lives in my heart, and it's ok that you're here. But I have a better friend, and she's coming to take very good care of you. And her name is Hope."
Invite Hope in. Let her take a seat in the living room of your heart. Let her pull up a chair. Make her some coffee, or tea if she prefers. Ask if she takes sugar or cream. Because she's here to stay. She's not going anywhere.
Hope smiles, and hugs Fear. Hope says, "Listen, I know you're scared. I know there's a lot going on right now and honestly, nobody has a clue what to do. But it's ok, because I'm here, and I'm making things a little brighter."
It isn't wrong to feel fear; it's natural, and in a lot of cases, it does protect us. Right now, though, Hope is much more necessary. And lucky for us, she never goes anywhere without her best friends, Faith, Love, and Peace. Doesn't that sound beautiful?
Stay safe, you guys. I love you all. We're going to get through this, I promise.