Faith/Spirituality, Serenity

#alonealone

I think I figured out part of my problem. I have a lot of them, I realize, but something has been extra “off’ about me since the Covid-19 quarantine. At first I thought it was just that I didn’t have a good Quarantine Routine. I don’t like set schedules (because I am a free spirit and also don’t like anyone telling me what to do 😉) but I really need them to function properly. Give my “free spirit” a few days without a schedule and it’s complete mayhem. I can’t get anything done.

But I don’t think that’s it, entirely. We are all quarantined to our homes with our precious, dear, sweet family members. Please keep my love and admiration for them in mind as we enter this upcoming territory. I hear a lot of talk about the isolation of this disease, and I know many people are living alone, so that totally stinks. I am sad for you in a different way if you are experiencing that kind of loneliness. I don’t mean to make light of the other side of this coin. But, many of us are living with a few other Homo sapiens that are always.always.always home. There are other people in my living room where I used to sit and reflect and read and pray without distraction. And since I can’t seem to be still and quiet with someone in the room, I feel compelled to share my deep thoughts out loud with them and then they too are interrupted. I take on the stress of my husband’s job because I can hear him on the phone from anywhere in the house. I am hyper aware of my own work conversations because I know they can hear me too. I can only imagine the not alone-ness that those with small children who need constant attention must feel.

While looking up ambient music with beach background on U Tube ( it’s one way to pretend I am somewhere else than my house! ), the phrase #alonetogether kept scrolling across the screen. Well, that’s a nice thought and all, but at least for a little bit everyday, I need to be #alonealone #alonewithoutinterruption #alonewithgod #alonewithmythoughts. Even if you love having this blessed time to be home everyday all day with whoever those people are for you, we are not wired to never have solitude, a time to refresh, refocus and spend time hearing from God.

In the olden days, like 3 weeks ago, most of us had a tendency to rush from our workouts to work to soccer to church to bed. Our time alone with God and with our own spirits had to be carved out intentionally. That part hasn’t changed, it’s just that now we need to be more creative and open to new ways of doing that. I have been mostly irritated that I can’t do it the way I used to do it and thus have spent very little time spending the kind of time in reflection and prayer and reading necessary for me to be emotionally and mentally healthy, which is less than optimal during a pandemic where fear and uncertainty seem to be pressing in at all times. I need God’s perspective and peace now more than ever. I keep telling God we’ll “catch up soon” and then forget to text or call, like I would an old friend I ran in to at the grocery store.

I know we are not on vacation by any means, but we are on a hiatus from real life, which is kind of the same when it comes to the routine of solitude or study. When I go on vacation, after about a week of self indulgence and constant togetherness and group activities (eating every meal together, sleeping in the same room together, riding in the same car together ) I start getting a little ticky. I know I need to find a way to be alone and read, write, pray or just sit and stare in silence. If I don’t do this, thinks can get ugly. I need get out of my own head and hear from God or read spiritual insights so I can remind myself of how to act like a loving, mature momma and wife.

So, on this here forced Staycation, I am gonna have to figure out a new way of doing things. Luckily, it’s getting warm so outside is now an option. My car is starting to become my new best friend. It’s quiet and offers privacy without risking infection. I don’t love these alternatives, because I really love my little blue couch and coffee table for my feet and my picture window to look out during my usual morning time of solitude. But life is anything but typical right now and I still need that time-out from others to stay spiritually healthy.

Maybe you need it too. Maybe you have been reading this and there is a child wrapped around your leg or resting on your hip. Maybe your partner is sitting across from you so even though you want to cry out to God or just plain cry, you feel self-conscious or embarrassed to do so. Maybe the TV is on all day and your fears are growing by the hour. Maybe, like me, you are starting to blame the people in your home for your inner angst and restlessness when really your soul is starving and out of sorts.

My advice to you….RUN. Not forever. Not far. But for a small and imperative chunk of time. Run to God. Eventually things will go back to “normal”, but for the sake of your sanity and serenity that comes from spending time alone with God and with yourself, figure out how to carve out a time and space where you can be #alonealone. Your family might miss you for a bit, but my hunch is they will be grateful that you have rebooted and recalibrated your spirit, you can come back to them with a calmness and kindness that are just contagious as the Coronavirus.

Anxiety/Worry, Faith/Spirituality, fear, Trust, worry

Quarantined: Ain’t my first rodeo!

Covid-19 is giving me a little PTSD. Being quarantined; it ain’t my first rodeo. There were times while being treated for Leukemia when I was neutropenic (lacking ability to fight off threatening diseases that could kill an immunocompromised person) and couldn’t leave my house. Or, let anyone except my family come in my house. And lest you assume I was too sick to want to leave anyway, you would be wrong. I felt “fine”. I had to remind myself I was very sick and force myself to comply with isolation to avoid potential infection that could make me very not “fine” at all.

Basically, that’s what we are dealing with now, not from an individual disease, but one that threatens the entire world. We feel “fine”. We feel more than fine and can’t stand the limitations. We have to choose to believe what we hear about the chances of infection and act accordingly. I think it’s safe to say that most of us are over getting to work in our pajamas, skip school and are getting slightly concerned that most of the time we have no idea what day of the week it is. We have played every game we own, done the puzzles a few times and have been on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus Benders for days. My family doesn’t even own a puzzle (don’t judge), we had to borrow from a friend. We tried to buy one from Walmart and they were fresh out; my husband suggested that people might be using them for toilet paper😉. My point is, I think most of us thought we would be moving on by now. Our positive outlooks are waning and everyone seems to be bordering on the slightly cranky side.

So what? What do we? How do we not strangle each other (husbands, wives, children who are just so “there” all.the.time.)? Lucky for you, I have done a bit of this before (on a much smaller scale, mind you) so I will share my secret: you have to choose. So far, I haven’t been making the best choice. I have been resistant, angry, and in denial. I am going to sound like a brat, but I sort of told God that this wasn’t fair and that I had done this before and shouldn’t have to do it again. I already served my time.

Me writing this to you is sort of little apology to Him for stomping around. I don’t know how it all works, but I can “hear” Him saying, “I know kid. It’s not fair but at least you know how to do it. You know what it’s like to choose to be better rather than bitter.” He is right. I have made that choice before and I am so glad I did. It turned cancer into a catapult for launching every good change in me and around me. I am always saddened when I see others who have endured great pain and come out the other side mad at the world and everything in it. They made the choice to become a victim of their circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough choice to make. It takes supernatural power, in my opinion. You definitely have to be willing to be willing to let God redeem the hard stuff.

The other day I was listening to a Beth Moore session on being happy. I wasn’t listening very carefully, or maybe I was just hungry, because what I heard was that we have to address our “Cinnabon Belief”. I stopped the session and rewound it because I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. It turns out she said something more theologically sound like “sin of unbelief”. I laughed at myself but then thought, “That’s me! I do have Cinnabon Belief: everything needs to be sweet and satisfying for my faith to stay strong and unwavering. When circumstances threaten the delacacies of my life, I too often throw a fit like a child whose mama confiscated (or ate) her Halloween candy.

I am out of quarantine practice. So-I am going back to the basics. I used to get up everyday, sit on my couch, and read from 3 books. Each one had a daily-dated reading and I would read the entry from each. I would reflect and pray and “be” with God. Then I would write. Spoiler alert-I didn’t start writing a blog for you to read, I started it to keep myself sane in my isolation. You can do that too. Write (or type) to God. Write to yourself. Write to your friends or family. Choose to get better rather than bitter.

One big difference that my dear husband pointed out about a week ago while as I was lamenting this quarantine and how poorly I was handling it, was that the first time I was quarantined, everyone came to me. I got cards and calls and people pulled weeds in my yard and mowed my grass and sent me flowers. But now, we are ALL quarantined and maybe instead of just receiving, it was time for me to give back and serve others (big and bold and brave words to a woman you will be trapped in a house with for an undetermined length of time, don’t ya think?!) . After I argued and cried a little, I decided to admit that he might be right. So, I am trying to come up with ways to do that for others. That’s one way I can choose better over bitter.

Maybe you have a choice to make today. Maybe the bitterness has been growing and you are letting the virus win. Maybe you aren’t quite willing to give in and learn how to be a different kind of happy. Start where you are at and ask God to “come get you”  ( https://wordpress.com/post/heathercarterwrites.com/1909 )and that He help you “willing to be willing” to choose better over bitter.

Anxiety/Worry, Change, Faith/Spirituality, fear, worry

“Come get me”

I think I am finally able to write. Since the Coronavirus hit, I have not been able. Not out of any grand preparation for isolation, but for the simple fact that I just had nothing productive to say. I was actually afraid I might do more harm than good if I opened my mouth about how I was feeling. At first, I was in denial. Felt nothing. Then the anger came. The layers of disappointment ( and you can all fill in the many blanks that describe your personal areas of loss/disappointment/and important life events that have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely) were almost more than I could bear. I know they are rich people problems, but they are the ones we have nonetheless. I won’t bother to list mine, because I like to keep my blogs under 1,000 words 😬.
Next came the grief and sadness and feeling sorry for myself. I was crossing my arms stubbornly and ignoring God because who else could I blame? Yesterday, after processing and talking with friends and forcing myself to listen to teachers wiser and more grounded than me, I started to defrost. Now, everything makes me cry…but in a soft and ready to move forward kind of way.

Here are some of the inner conversations and revelations that helped me be able to type even one word. I hope something I say helps you wherever you are at today.

I started to be “willing to willing” to accept the reality of this virus and all it brought with it when I watched a Beth Moore lesson on “Breaking Free.” In a nutshell, she told a story about being in a third world country in a hotel lobby when the lights went out. She could hear chaos and yelling but not in English. Her husband was up in their room. She said she stood still, terrified, not knowing where to go and knew it would do no good to yell since no one could understand her. Then, she heard heavy feet coming down the cement staircase and walking towards her. She could tell it was a man, which scared her even more, and even though she knew no one would understand her, she said, “It’s me. I’m just standing here” (she had no idea what else to say!) . He responded, “Baby, this is your man. You just stand right there and I’ll be there soon.” She just stood there like a little child, held out her arms and wiggled her fingers in the direction of his voice and repeated, “Come get me. Come get me. Come get me.” She said, “And sure enough, he came and got me.” Her point was, that there will be some times in our lives that as much as we believe and after all the places you have been with God, that things will seem dark and you don’t know where He is. You are terrified to even move, the darkness is so all consuming and you can’t even see the hand in front of your face. But, even though you can’t see where He is, HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE.

I have been having a hard time getting to God because of my fear, my anger, my sadness. But luckily, God still knows how to get to me when I call for him. I just kept praying, “Come get me. Come get me. Come get me.” And sure enough, he came and got me. Just being willing to ask him to come was enough to melt my heart and let him Him in again. Finally, I am (mildly) open to listening to what he can do in me and through me during this time.

Ya know, I think that’s enough for today. I have several more things to share, but just for today, I think that is enough. Until I asked him to “Come get me”, nothing else could get through to my heart. I’ll give you a day or two to ask him to “Come get” you too. Then we can chat some more. 😘