Growing Stronger During Covid-19

Selah is a Hebrew word that I was taught growing up meant: a pregnant pause. Its most common definition is: a time to stop and reflect. It is a word that is often used in music and poetry and has many interpretations because its truest meaning is a bit of a mystery.

I can”t think of a more fitting word to describe the climate that we are in right now. If this life is a poem, this portion of the poem would be the moment where we pause, reflect and take in the previous phrases and prepare ourselves for what’s next.

There’s ton of fear in the atmosphere and while I hope everyone is taking the very necessary precautions, as I am, I believe that this pregnant pause has something to teach us all, something that we all need to make sure not to miss.

A portion of this change or shift is happening without our effort. In one way, the shutdown on its own flipped a switch within society as whole. But sustained change takes consistent effort from a convinced mind. It’s going to take more than a ‘switch’. We all have to participate in the change that’s happening right now.

Below I’ve share are a few things that this pregnant pause has shown me thus far; they also speak to anyone who is feeling anxious or afraid right now. There is a challenge at the end of each section for practical application:

Be Worthy and Be Grateful

..And deliver those who through
fear of death, were subject to
lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:15

As a substitute teacher, I teach at a different school everyday sometimes (unless I am given a long term assignment) I teach K-12 aged students and sometimes teach at deaf schools, work with kids who’s first language is not English, and I work with plenty of special needs kids who’s conditions vary from mild to severe.

I remember a specific day when I was teaching at a special needs school and I was in a classroom with about 10 students who were all secured to wheel chairs because of varying handicaps and walking inabilities, most of them could hear but could not speak—they would make noises but words would not formulate—and all of the students in this classroom had an inability to feed themselves because of varying conditions, so the staff fed them during their feeding time and changed them afterwards. Their overall level of Special Needs was pretty severe in terms of the support that they required.

While I was working with these students I had a flashback memory of a television show I’d watched, about a young girl. One day she went to pay a visit to another young girl with special needs who looked up to her, at the end of her time visiting the girl, her friend comes to pick her up and once they were in one anothers presence and a fair distance from the young girls home she just visited, the girl who just payed a visit to the girl with special needs burst into tears, she felt so badly for the condition that the girl was in. Mind you, the girl with special needs was not sick or ill, she just had special needs that were mild-severe.

As I came back to the present moment, I wondered why I hadn’t felt sad or sorry for the students that I was Substitute Teaching that day. It put something into perspective for me, in terms of our value as individuals.

For the kids I taught this day, ’high achievement’ isn’t really in the cards in the general sense—Maybe in a more distracting sense. A high achievement for them is not having a seizure that day, going to the park or having a great lunch.

And yet, they’re here. Because God doesn’t make mistakes. Working with them on that particular day brought a revelation for me that, we are all worthy because we have breathe in our lungs. We are worthy because God decided that we needed to be here and that our presence here and now is very necessary. That is the beginning and end of our worthiness, we need not do anything more to find it or to prove it. It is not our doing that makes us worthy–because God created us all, but not all of us can ‘do’—but that God decided that we need to be here. The breathe in your lungs is proof that you are chosen.

Also, you never know who’s going to be inspired by any part of what you are.

Challenge: While journaling during this quarantine, I have been doing an exercise where I write, I AM and then I affirm and validate myself with I am statements like I am talented, I am smart, I am kind. Then I follow up the I am statement with, Grateful For and then I write a list of what I am grateful for, a list of 20 for each one. I challenge you to try this not only from your own perspective by also try doing it from someone else’s perspective like a child, or a homeless person. The contrast alone should give you an opportunity to see things from a new view.

Inner Enemy

When there is not enemy within,
the enemy without can do you no harm

African Proverb

Last year in 2019, it seemed like every week there was a new news headline about another K-12 school shooting; whether it was an adult entering onto a school campus to express their internal anger, hatred and mental health issues, or it was a child that got a hold of a gun and expressed their depravity on campus, resulting in often devastating amounts of fatalities. After an entire year of back to back School shootings, Walmart shootings, Church shootings, Synagogue shootings, Bar shootings and the like, at the beginning of 2020 we had a new dilemma; there were very hostile interactions between the US and Iran, so much so that it almost resulted in an entire war. Troops were deployed and everyone was afraid for their loved ones as well as their own livelihood on US soil. During this time period of fear of an ensuing war, School shootings, Church shootings and the like were not happening. It was almost as if that inner enemy was distracted by a new enemy. A new outer enemy that mirrored the inner one. Once we resolved that dilemma of that time period, we began to experience many earthquakes all over the world, and now we have the Coronavirus.

But once the virus moves through humanity and accomplishes what it’s meant to. That inner enemy will still be there to deal with. There is still a possibility that once the atmosphere clears of the plethora of external threats we are currently experiencing, that the internal ones that were always there will begin to show up yet again. And we’d all be foolish to think that it all isn’t intertwined and interconnected.

We can use how we handle these circumstances were in as a mirror; how you handle an external enemy is how you are handling your internal one. How you handle an internal threat is how you handle and external threat. Yes, there is an entire pandemic going on, but were you fearful and anxious before this? Were you hopeless and unhappy way before any pandemic came along? Are these circumstances exacerbating what was already inside of you? Start there.

Secondly, we cannot wait for our circumstances to change in a particular manner in order to feel ‘ok’. We have to tackle this thing called life with a very high level of personal responsibility in this respect, because there is always gonna be ‘something’. The grass is only as green as your perspective. life is always gonna be up and down. There will always be things that are that we wish were not. Its not about waiting for a perfect life, but developing a perspective that allows us to have joy and keep a healthy outlook regardless.

Have you ever prayed for something in hopes that in having that prayer answered, your current problems would be solved–only to have that prayer answered but still find things you weren’t happy with? That’s because its not about whats happening around you but what’s going on inside of you.

Challenge: Some tips on how to apply this during the quarantine:
-Don’t look at the news unless you need to step outside of your home
-If you check the news any other time limit the duration of your search
-Implement a few daily rituals to keep your mental health in check. for me this has been: daily exercise, daily journaling, and daily self-care (taking care of my skin and hair)
*Bonus* make a quarantine bucket list of things you want to accomplish or tryout before this quarantine is over, because it wont last forever

Suffering is Good For you

It may sound crazy, but its the truth. The light and dark work together for our ultimate good. the struggle is good for us. Success never taught me anything, but struggling has taught me everything. The struggle scrapes you clean and creates more room in your spirit to experience greater joy towards life and compassion towards others. The struggle allows you to sustain your personal or career highs because you have a balanced perspective. It allows you to remain grounded and level headed when you’re experiencing a win. When you enter into a tough season, view it as training ground and do what needs to be done, learn the lesson and always know that its ultimately good for you.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured
into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who
has been given to us

Romans 5:3-5

The last part of this scripture really stuck out to me. It insinuates that no matter how big our dreams or hopes are, that in the end our truest and deepest desire is to experience the love of God deep in our hearts, and that we have access to that True desire through the Holy Spirit.

Challenge: If you have health, this moment that we are in is a training ground. Have gratitude for the breathe in your lungs and join me in praying for those who are currently fighting for their breath to remain and for those mourning a loss. Every time you hear about suffering due to the pandemic, take a moment and say a prayer.

I hope this is helpful and makes its way to the person who needs it. If this helped you in someway, please share it with someone who may need to read this.

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Amber B

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