I’ve been gone from this blog for a long time; I made an announcement that I was going back to school and then pretty much disappeared. Well, school is over. I am just waiting on one big test to be returned in order to graduate. And here I am.
The world seems crazier than the last time I wrote. Public Masses were just canceled for weeks; I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. Last night was the first time in all of this that I really felt physical anxiety. had been concerned before, and nervous. But when I heard that public Masses are canceled, it was a tremendous blow.
There are so many people doing amazing things that help with anxiety, and these will take more than one blog. Here is the first.
The One Thing
If you are a person with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility like me and most of my friends, knowing a bunch of things that are wrong with the world has been anxiety-producing for a long time, and now it is more so. It is very hard to know what is asked of you in particular, and sometimes I personally freeze up and stop trying anything. But one thing that helps me to remember is that we are in this together, so none of us is responsible for more than our part. For me, I have to look at the situation. I live with elderly family members. That means that I am not called to be a delivery driver or to help hand out lunches to poor kids. I can check those off the discernment list. I am called to not bring viruses home to them. I also have a strong desire on my heart to maintain community for the good of everyone (including myself), so I’m reaching out to people via video chat. Yesterday I got to talk with a friend I haven’t visited with in a really long time. I really enjoyed it. Others are doing this too. One friend organized a weekly video chat community party. Another group I’m in is having a nightly rosary together to pray for the world.
Many people I know are focusing on taking care of their families. A friend of mine is babysitting her nephew so her brother can work. Some are posting advice on the internet or sharing where you can find resources such as virtual museums and symphony concerts which help both old and young alike. Some are giving support to others who are medical workers and grocery workers. Some are buying gift certificates from restaurants and ordering takeout to help keep those businesses afloat. And some are able to get out there and deliver food to others, especially elderly neighbors. And they are doing it.
I’ve also seen people share how many good things are happening in order to give us hope. China is almost over this ordeal for one. Our governor here is making sure that children who relied on public schools for food are still getting free lunches. In a city in China, people were reporting that the smog was gone and they could hear birds. Hope is a good thing. The heart matters.
Saving the world isn’t up to me. We are all in this together, plus there is a Higher Power who really does love us and bring good out of evil. None of us are alone. Some people might choose to find a societal ill that they will fight to change, and begin to do research on what they can do when it is time. Some will use this time to write – Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a quarantine. Some of us will paint. Creating art really is doing something. Art lifts the soul. Reaching out to just one person is doing something, and our kids and our parents count. Prayer and Sacrifice and suffering offered up as prayer makes a huge difference.
How To Discern
We can ask God what is that we need to do, and do that one thing, or those few things. Verbal prayer helps, a prayer journal helps, making lists helps and reasoning out what makes sense or not helps. Paying attention to who you are and the desires of your heart helps. The silence can help us hear what is resonating in our hearts. If you don’t know what to do, I know a lot of people who are simply reaching out to someone to make sure they aren’t isolated. I am not sure that they discerned their role, but phone calls and video chats and checking in and conversing with isolated elderly neighbors makes sense (you can talk to them from three yards outside and still keep them safe). Sense matters. A friend wrote today, “I can only do what’s in front of me right now.” It is absolutely true. Sometimes what is right in front of us is rest. Rest matters too. And if someone is still able to work, working is doing something. It matters.
For me, doing something, but knowing it isn’t my responsibility to do everything, makes a huge difference in anxiety levels. The “shoulds” tend to attack. If I know I’m helping, I can rest in the few things I am called to do and not let the “but you need to save the world” paralyze me. I can make sure to pray. I can make sure to write. I can reach out, and I can share information. And it is OK if I just do one a day. I see a lot of people making jokes, and honestly, laughter can be healing. That is their way and there are a lot of people out there who are helped by it. It matters.
Wishing you peace in your heart to go with the prudence in your mind. May God abundantly bless this day.
“It is a lesson we all need – to let alone the things that do not concern us. He has other ways for others to follow Him; all do not go by the same path. It is for each of us to learn the path by which He requires us to follow Him, and to follow Him in that path. ” – St. Katharine Drexel