I am a person of action. A “do-er.” When presented with a problem, my first thought is always- “What can I do?” I am definitely a control freak and think that there is no problem I can’t solve if I have enough control over the subject. With both of those traits, I am slowly learning that I can not do nor can I control everything, or anything really.
I don’t really understand why someone like me with fairly low self esteem would even try to have control over anything, but I guess we are all a great mix of contrasting quirks- I know that I am.
I am also a homebody that should be thrilled to stay put during this trying time. I am not bothered by the staying home part, except that I go back to my first statement, I am a person who takes action. When confronted with a problem I want to do something, I want to fix things. And therein lies the problem for many of us. There isn’t much we can do.
Telling me that I can save the world by staying in and watching TV or reading goes against everything I have ever known. We are people of action and this is difficult, I think, for many of us. I have cleaned closets, rearranged art work, cleaned house, organized old pictures, moved furniture and more in an attempt to feel that I am doing something of worth.
A couple of weeks ago our church asked people who were interested in helping others to sign up, which I did. I then heard the story of an 80 year old (the age of the people we’re signing up to help) who also signed up to help. She said she was healthy and had a car so why shouldn’t she help? Even I am over the 60 year old number that was first thrown out as the most vulnerable group. I think all of us see ourselves as younger than we are and we all want to be part of the solution, not the problem. People of every age want to help.
I don’t know that anyone knows what the solution really is, I don’t know if there is a solution, so it is difficult to be part of that solution. Most of what appears to be the solution is in the hands of the health care community and the government. For the rest of us, it is back to staying isolated and sane while they figure it out.
One day I read that we should get our food to go from local restaurants so as to save their businesses and then the next day I hear people saying to stay home, cook your own food and just chill. I hear that we should go outside and walk and then I hear people fussing that too many people are outside walking. It seems like we can’t win!
I have thought of ways to keep people’s spirits up and then realize almost all of those plans would take some collaboration, something some people are fine with and others are not so fine with right now. And I get that. So much of what I do takes at least a couple of other folks to record, accompany, or harmonize with.
I have not had much to write about because I feel anything I say can be taken the wrong way and since I am not doing very much, I don’t really have much to tell you. I did begin writing a book this time last year and wrote down over 70,000 words before realizing that I was telling some stories that were not really mine to tell and I got uninspired almost overnight. I have thought that maybe if it was never going to get to book form anyway, that maybe I could share a few of the stories of my life growing up in the zoo with you guys to keep you entertained. That would take no collaboration other than you reading, but I don’t know that I am really ready to do that.
For some kind of normalcy, I am watching the Facebook stream of my church’s service at 11 on Sunday, our “usual” time. I know it is there to watch anytime, but it makes it seem more like a regular Sunday if I watch it right at 11am.
Today our minister talked about resting. And it kind of clicked with me what my problem has been. I can’t fix anything. I can’t be with some people I would like to see, most everyone I know is capable of getting their own groceries and is waiting to be asked to get someone else’s so as to feel useful. There is no way to predict how this is going to go, when it will end, or if we are doing the right things. I have no answers, and really no one else does either.
On top of that we are to just sit and wait? No dragon to slay, no enemy to fight, no cape to put on so we can save everyone? Just sit and wait? That seems against our nature!
A couple of years ago Tim made his most popular Christmas ornament. It said “Be Still”. I have one hanging on my wall year ’round and I had those words printed on one of my bags. Be Still. Such a wonderful thought at Christmas. For me it conjures up images of Christmas Eve at midnight as we silently walk home from church together, usually in the cold. Our breath makes small clouds as we listen to the stillness all around us. And for that moment the stillness, the quiet is beautiful.
But how in the world are we supposed to be still for weeks? How are we supposed to take more than a moment to enjoy the silence? We need noise and busyness and control. We need to take action, we need to save the world.
I then realized that we are here to be saved, not to save the world. One of the slides during the service this morning said, “The job of Creator is already taken.” I remembered that in the past I have told people that we can’t save anyone, that is God’s job. And yet I think every day that I am single handedly responsible for keeping the world around me going. I think, “What would these people do if I wasn’t here to save them?” I realized this morning that the world spun before I was born and that it will continue after I am gone.
There’s a fine line between being useful, thoughtful and helpful and thinking I am saving the world all by myself. There is a time for putting myself on the line to take care of others, but when does it become all about me instead of them?
Maybe now is the unusual time when all we can do is stay out of the way and let the experts figure this out and then tell us if there is anything to do. Maybe this is when we have to do something that really isn’t about us at all, we just have to wait for now. No reward or payoff for “doing good”, just a time to do what we must for the sake of others in a very non-active way. We can keep our ears open for when we can be of service while being still, contemplating who we are and who we want to be when we eventually step back out into the world.
As much as I like being home, the uncertainty and the feeling of helplessness are making me feel uneasy about it. Maybe I need to take a minute to see this as an opportunity to count my blessings, strengthen my faith, contemplate my life and come out of the other side ready to get to work for a better world.
Maybe we need to do what we can to get ready for the action that will surely be needed down the road to get life back to a new normal when this is over. Maybe we need to trust that God knows where we are headed and is giving us a moment to be still and catch our breath.
I don’t know what is ahead, but I do know I have to hope that we will be ready for whatever it is. Being still for a bit certainly won’t hurt the preparation.
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord… the Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still…” Exodus 21:12-13