“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” Russel M. Nelson
It’s taken two whole weeks for me to fully process that our normal is almost nonexistent right now. Traveling, play dates, visiting friends, or even going to church aren’t really options right now. My naturally introverted self has enjoyed the time home, but the circumstances have rattled my mind and emotions greatly. Daily I remind myself that I can maintain joy even in the midst of this chaos, my anxiety, and fears.
All of this has me in a state of anticipating bad news rather than good. Dreading updates regarding the pandemic instead of finding a positive. Even avoiding going outside altogether, because I don’t want to risk anything. It’s been tough not to let fear and anxiety propel me into a frenzy. Most information seems bleak and downright discouraging. This is not what I was hoping for in 2020…
Acknowledging the circumstances
There’s a lot happening. I know I’m stating the obvious, but sometimes you have to. Owning the reality can help things seem less stuck. If you’re like me right now you’re managing you, a partner, work situations (and their stability), school needs (how much time online do we really need?), and everything in between. Regular life didn’t stop and it’s now just ramped up with little notice.
Processing and pinpointing where things are currently has been a skill I’ve used over time. It’s like a mental anchor so I can keep moving in my journey. It’s also a reminder that just because it’s hard to find a silver lining right now, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Making the choice
There’s major choices being made minute by minute and hour by hour. But if you’re going to prioritize anything right now choose your state of mind. Choose your emotional anchor and choose it regardless of how you feel.
Anxiety, depression, and the weight that they carry are no strangers to me. We know each other extremely well, have sat in lofty lows, stayed silent in therapy sessions, and yet have found skills to cope and dance respectively.
They can be my go-to without any forethought or permission. So I’ve had to train my mind to take a mental path that won’t send me spiraling. Here are 3 truths I choose to anchor myself during times like this. These are mine:
- I need to stay informed when watching media, but I don’t need to inundate myself with it.
- There’s power in my words and my attitude. I need to believe and speak life right now (Proverbs 18:21)
- I’m not stuck at home, I’m choosing to stay safe and keep our family safe.
Keeping the focus
…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Staying focused on God’s truth and positive truths in general is keeping my feet grounded. Whether it’s a sermon, podcast, or worship music I’m letting it fill my spirit.
For you it may be a running list of reminders that help you cope. Or positive mantras that you recite during a morning routine. Whatever it is, keep a positive focus. Here are some things I focus when I wake up and when I rest:
- We are currently healthy
- My kids love being home and my family enjoys our safe place
- This time doesn’t have to be isolating, but it can be a time of rest and solitude
- I can make an impact no matter how small today that will help myself or someone else
- I love to laugh, so I will laugh a lot today.
…she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25
I’ve read this verse many times, and it wasn’t until recently that I captured a new perspective. The proverbs 31 woman doesn’t laugh because she knows what’s going to happen or that she isn’t afraid. In fact, she can laugh because she knows WHO holds the future and she has seen Him carry her through trials before.
I know these habits are not easy, but they are my necessity to maintaining joy. Acknowledge, Choose, and Focus on what truly can anchor you during this storm. For me it’s knowing God isn’t surprised by this and He hasn’t forgotten me or those I care about. Though I don’t understand why things are happening, I do know this. I’ve seen God carry me through suicide, hopelessness, and seasons where I was very lost. So I can look at today and know it will not always be this way.
Even in my emotions, joy reminds me to seek His peace and keep pursuing it. I pray and hope you’re able to do the same. I am daily walking the fine line to maintain joy and will gladly walk alongside you friend.