I (like most people these days) am so thankful for those warriors on the front lines of this pandemic: teachers, parents who are co-teaching, store clerks, nurses, doctors, delivery persons, truck drivers, and so many other “essentials”. My husband also fights a battle as he goes to work each day. and I (as many of you) fight my own by staying home. If you join me in this challenge to stay home and you are feeling lonely, alone, frustrated, overwhelmed, or just in need of an encouraging story this is for you.
My conflict with isolation seems small in comparison to the struggles and challenges of many at this time.. I am grateful for each and every time I have a connection with family and friends through phone calls, Face Time, texts, or email. However, some days the lack of getting out and having personal interaction can feel very real and very trouncing.
Monday morning I woke up feeling broken and somewhat defeated. I had been fighting the battle of isolation for 31/2 weeks (as have most of you) and the alone, the four walls, the lack of being able to see and hug my grandchildren or face-to- face talk with my adult children, not being able to connect with friends at the gym or go out to lunch, and the frustration of not feeling useful in a time of such need was all getting to me; not hugging anyone was getting to me. I am a very social person and social distancing was taking its toll.
Each day I have tried to employ strategies to stand firm in the midst of this challenge. I read scriptures, pray, document the blessings I can think of from the previous day, seek guidance on what I should. do for that day, and nurture a quiet reliance on the Lord. I know I am fortunate in so many ways and feel great empathy for the suffering of others at this time and yet, every day can feel like a series of offensive maneuvers and retreats against the battalion of emotions I wrestle with. Monday felt like a day of defeat. “Lord, I need your help.” I wrote in my journal and then I wrote it again. “Lord, I need your help.”
I pulled out my prayer list and I prayed for peace and comfort for others, I also prayed it for myself. As I faced the long hours that stood in front of me, I prayed for someone to call me, to hear a voice on the other end of the phone. I was hesitant to reach out to family or friends myself with more than a text because I have struggled since I was very young with a worry about being a bother to people. Yes, I know, please pray for me-yet for what happened next it is an important detail to my story.
Have you ever just been sitting still and had a picture pop into your head out of nowhere? As I was praying that day it happened to me. I saw the screen of my phone with a name at the top of it indicating that person was trying to call. That was weird. Though this was a person I loved very much, it was not someone who would (or ever had) just picked up the phone to call and chat-nor had I ever called her for just a visit. We text, or send pictures, but voice-to-voice chats. The strange picture registered in my mind and I continued praying.
When I was finished, I began my other rituals for getting through my new normal,. I fixed breakfast, exercised, and paid bills online and sat down to do some reading. Suddenly, I jumped as my phone rang. I looked down and the name appeared on my phone just as I had pictured it that morning. I was stunned! We talked for a minute about how we were doing and then I began to weep, “I’m sorry” I explained through pretty embarrassing sobs. “This is going to sound crazy, but I saw your name show up on my phone while I was praying for comfort and connection this morning and then you called. I know this has to be from the Lord. Thank you for listening. Thank you for calling.” She seemed a bit taken aback at my degree of emotion, but I could feel the grateful joy of being comforted right when I needed it surge through me and come straight out of my eyes. While her call was a blessing on several levels, the absolute confirmation that the Lord hears and I am never really alone was overwhelming.
Later that day, another very dear friend called. We cried, laughed, prayed together, and comforted each other. I was even given the opportunity to help her in a way that made me feel useful. This too was a wonderful gift of comfort.
The above picture was taped on my outside window as a surprise from members of my wonderful family. It caused buckets of joy tears and girded me to keep fighting. What an incredible gift!
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
My friend calls it “tender mercies”. I call it “hidden treasures”. I asked her if she thinks God is showing Himself more vividly during these difficult times. Her answer was amazing to me. She said, “No, I think they happen often. I just think we are more open to seeing them right now.” Wow! Even in the midst of this very hard time in history, there are gifts of comfort and peace and hope. He is risen! He is alive!He is there!
If I could encourage you today, it would be to be mindful of His good gifts in the midst, to offer yourself gentle grace during the hard moments and/or hard days, and to be ready to reach out to those who may really need your voice on the other end of the phone. Today I will fight back against the voices that tell me not to bother people and do some calling myself.
I am grateful for you for in my life. I pray for each of you the gift of comfort and peace during this difficult time. Thank you for letting me share and Lord, thank you for giving me the courage. In Jesus’ name, Amen
P.S. A huge thank you to all of you who are keeping our country going and our kid’s educated!