What Happened to Being “In This Together?”

coronavirus news on screen

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached U.S. soil, the phrase, “We’re all in this together” sprung up across the nation.

As we made radical adjustments to our way of life, the statement somehow brought us comfort. It reminded us that we were not alone. It bonded us together in a fight against a common enemy. It helped us cope with a scenario none of us had ever imagined.

We hunkered down, joined forces, and knocked this insidious illness in the jaw. We saw the fruits of our sacrifices as we “flattened the curve.”

But sometime between that initial state of solidarity and now, something changed. The novelty wore off. The economic impact became more devastating daily, and we ached to return to our “normal” lives.

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Ambushed by aging

retail-store-metal-mirror-and-footrest2[1]It happened in front of one of those unforgiving, full-length mirrors.

I had stepped into mom’s adjoining dressing room so we could show one another the clothes we were trying on.  Instinctively, I reached out to smooth the white blouse on my mother’s slightly stooped back.

I was in my thirties, and she was in her seventies.  We stood side-by-side, looking at our reflections.  I think that’s when it hit her . . . hard.

At home I noticed a tear trailing down her cheek.  Alarmed, I asked her what was wrong.  Continue reading

When you wish you could do more

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When I heard that my church’s service would be devoted to a mission’s trip report, I initially dreaded it.  I knew the team would show photos of the home they built for a needy family in Mexico and share how their own lives had been transformed in the process.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the cause . . . or celebrate the great things that God had done through them.

It was because I couldn’t go with them.

My physical limitations keep me from taking on short-term (let alone long-term) mission assignments.  Hearing others share about their amazing experiences (whether in person or via social media) can sometimes make me feel “less than,” left out, and longing to do more.

There are so many things I would do, if only I could . . . GOOD things, that would help meet the overwhelming spiritual and physical needs in the world. Yet, more often than not, I have to say “no” to opportunities to serve.

“No,” to pounding nails in Mexico. “No,” to traveling to an Operation Christmas Child warehouse. “No,” to overnight shifts at the local homeless shelter.

Then I discovered something I could say “Yes” to! Continue reading

Why I’m thankful for my limitations

A wave of melancholy washed over me the day of the holiday concert.   I was sad because I wouldn’t be singing with the local choral ensemble.group_5121

It’s not because the group didn’t want me.

This past fall I was honored to receive an invitation to join the choir, and began attending rehearsals.  My soul was immediately enlivened by the process of learning and making music again.

But I was simultaneously confronted with an old nemesis—my relentless battle with chronic fatigue.

The two-hour Sunday evening rehearsals were intense, with no breaks.  During each practice my body began to crash at about the half-way mark, leaving me hanging on by my fingernails for the duration.  Worse yet, I paid for it dearly for several days afterwards, struggling to function at work because of the resulting exhaustion, headaches, and dizzy spells.

Though I hated to do it, I knew I had to withdraw from the group. My health limitations had gained the upper hand once again.

Perhaps you know the feeling, even though your situation is different.  We all experience limitations of some sort—physical, mental, financial, educational, and emotional, to name a few.

It’s natural to feel frustrated or sad like I did when obstacles keep us from something we want.

But what if we could transform our view of the things that limit us (especially the things we cannot change) to a positive perspective?

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A cancer survivor’s perspective: the difference between faith and trust

My best friend from college, Kelly, is a two-time cancer survivor.  Breast cancer first struck her at the young age of 31.  Kelly was a mom of two small boys and a new missionary in Africa when she discovered a lump.  The diagnosis changed the course of her family’s lives, as they had to leave their overseas post and move back to the United States for Kelly’s treatment.

The dreaded disease returned fourteen years later.  This time, Kelly faced a much more aggressive treatment regimen, including a mastectomy and chemotherapy.  The side effects of chemo decimated her, both physically and emotionally.

In God’s mercy, she eventually recovered and has now been cancer-free for eight years.  Nevertheless, she understandably still battles anxiety when it’s time for her periodic checkups.  She knows there’s always a chance the doctor could deliver bad news. Continue reading