I'm moving into week 3 of the coronavirus. Thankfully for me I'm not in danger, but it's no fun. Recovery is not linear and, just when I think I'm making headway, I seem to slide back in the wrong direction.
This is particularly difficult as a single mother with two kids. My two teenagers are pretty independent but, especially at a time like this, they're looking to me to be their rock. While I have all the qualities of a rock in terms of being solid and immovable, frustratingly I can't make it down to the kitchen or sort out our internet or go shopping. I also have limited emotional bandwidth for friendship woes and floating anxiety.
It would be easy for me to look at families around me with two parents, neither sick, with envy. "You have no idea!" I want to cry. "Try doing this on your own!" "Oh for the love of God, you've got NOTHING to complain about!"
However, as the Lord has reminded me many times, comparison is irrelevant. Whatever God allows into our lives He uses to shape us. It's not the what but the how.
And this is not my first rodeo. As I lie in bed pinned down by my three dogs (they take "lockdown" to a whole new level), I recognise how well-placed I am to confront this crisis with its profound uncertainties.
Because I'm wealthy? No.
I'm a single parent.
I'm the breadwinner.
I'm self-employed and without work.
I am without other means.
So what makes me so well-placed? It's that I've been here so many times before. I know to Whom I have looked in crisis to make it through and, every time, I have made it. And it has never been about me or my circumstances, it has always been about Him.
So many examples:
When married, we lived under daily threat of eviction for five years while my kids were under 5. There were days when I had no milk. No diapers. Years when I had no Christmas presents. But we did what we could and God showed up time and time again.
In divorce, when I was without support, God provided.
When we moved back to the UK and the kids and I lost our life as we knew it and our church family, God provided us - step by step - with a new one.
When I was without work and struggling to start afresh, God added people who paved the way to employment.
Even last week when I lay here wondering how I would pay my rent, at the eleventh hour income came from work I had gladly done for free. Generous recognition at the exact time and in the exact amount I needed. I wept. Out of "nothing" He had provided.
Right down to yesterday finding a tin of tomatoes I didn't know we had and, even as I type, a friend offering to buy the veg we need for today.
I can see large and small details of God's provision and kindness every step of the way.
I know from a long track record with the Lord that though everything - home, health, work, community, country - can be taken away from you, God will remain.
These challenges now are an opportunity to put your faith to the test. Will you trust? Will you invest your limited emotional resources in the people around you who need them, or will you waste them in worry?
I am used to being out of control. I actually enjoy being able to support friends when they are in dire need. To help in practical ways or to testify to the fact that out here on the water like Peter, far from the safe and known boat of our own "security", Jesus is who He says He is. He will do what He has promised if we trust in Him.
This global crisis is an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of the One who has control. Even if and specifically when, in its worst iteration, our loved ones are lost. I am no Pollyanna: I speak of what I know and I testify to what I have seen.
I am better placed exactly because my life for so long has been "unstable" from a worldly perspective. "Look! No net!!" I smile wryly to myself. It's not what I would prefer but I know how this goes, I know how it looks. And here I am. Still standing. Here my kids are. Still able to laugh (even amidst tears).
Knowing where to put my anxiety I can pick up other things:
Don't get me wrong, it's a discipline and when I'm struggling I have to snap my elastic band back. Where am I putting my faith? On what or whom do I depend? What is my joy?
Here are some scriptures I call to mind:
'Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.' 1 Peter 5:7
'I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength.' Phil. 4: 13
'His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.' 2 Peter 1:3
'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.' Phil. 4:11-12
"'I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16
Look to where God has been faithful to you in the past or, perhaps, truly trust in Him for the first time now?
Be safe, we will get through this. You have my word, and even better... we have His.