It’s a stressful time to be alive. There’s no doubt about it. Being someone that absorbs the emotional atmosphere around me, I find my body buzzing with tension in the air almost everywhere I go. I feel it on the roads where it seems like everyone’s temper is on a tripwire, I feel it in the supermarket where I rarely see anyone attempting to smize above their mask any longer, and I most certainly feel it online.
The litany of bad and contentious news is overwhelming; COVID has worsened with new and more severe strains, Afghanistan is crumbling, Haiti is suffering, the Pacific Northwest of the USA is burning-up and drying-up simultaneously, and the climate report is projecting even worse decay than was earlier realised. It’s heavy.
I think one of the things that I feel the most at this time, is a collective sense of powerlessness. We want COVID to dissipate, but it’s gotten worse. We want people to do the right thing, but we have no power to change anyone else’s mind. We want large corporations to start showing genuine social responsibility, but we’re ants in a giants’ world. We want the world to be taken care of – fed, loved, sheltered, and safe – but we have trouble just keeping our house plants alive.
It is this sense of powerlessness that can erode our sense of purpose and meaning in life. It feeds off our energy, and drains our emotional reserves. It’s like the totality of my resources is a wee krill, and the problems of the world are a blue whale – completely swallowing all I have to give.
When Delta came barging into our lives recently, I immediately recognised the feelings of angst in my body. My cells remember this feeling well. But this time, I decided, something has to be different. I’m not going to get through the other side of this never-ending story with my nervous system in shreds like I did last time.
You see, even though we feel so powerless, we’re actually not. We have more power than we realise. We have the power to make very practical decisions to ensure we preserve our emotional and mental health. Some of the things I have been implementing are:
– Muting friends that post a lot of information that I find stressful.
– Limiting my intake of news.
– Deciding that it’s not worth getting angry at people at the store not wearing a mask – it’s not going to affect change, and it’s only hurting me.
– Practising mindfulness – making set times throughout my daily routine where I intentionally focus on my five senses and being in the moment.
– Taking action. Doing what little things I can to make a difference to those around me – I may not be able to lobby corporate America, or house a thousand Afghan refugees in my spare room – but I can go out of my way to be kind to the checkout guy.
I actually think it’s been really important to remember what God has asked me to do: live in a way that exhibits the heart of Jesus in every little daily moment. He’s not asking me to singlehandedly fix the climate, or change the government, or carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. He’s only asking me to represent who He is in the limited sphere of my life right here where I live.
So I’m choosing to zoom in. I will be aware of what’s going on in the world, I will pray, and I will do what little I can to help, but I will mainly focus on the handful of people and situations that I do have influence over.
Here’s a little mantra I wrote myself for when the state of the world is getting me down, and maybe it will help you too:
I am just one person.
I have limits, and today I accept and honour those limits.
Even though the world is in chaos, it is not my responsibility to feel the collective turmoil.
And when I do, I will pray these feelings into my hands, and blow them into the wind, where they can be picked up by the One who has the heart that can hold them.
I am just one person.
And as one person, I have the power to love those around me, exercise kindness, patience, understanding and compassion.
I have the power to choose my actions and reactions today, and that is all that I can do.
I release myself from the obligation to do the impossible and I empower myself to do the possible.
I will stay in my lane, listen to my Guide, put one foot in front of the other, and let Him carry my backpack.
Love you friends, we’re going to be okay.