What Happened to Being “In This Together?”

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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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No one wants to be me.

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“You are living a woman’s worst nightmare.”

“No one wants to be you.”

These statements clustered like barnacles in the back of my mind, their sharp edges piercing my self-worth.

Of course, no one had said these things to my face. But the words were a composite of input from myriad sources . . . movies and tv, social media, books, work interactions, family conversations, even Christian circles. Sometimes the message had been subtle, and other times . . . not so much.

Before you protest such alarming self-talk, let’s look at the facts:

I have never been married.

I will never have any biological children or grandchildren.

I live a celibate life.

Can you honestly say this is or was your life goal, or something you pray for others (especially if you have a daughter)?

I didn’t think so.

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Some day my prince will come

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I confess, I watched it. I turned on the TV in the wee hours of May 19, 2018 just in time to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kneeling at the altar in Saint George’s Chapel. The sight of Meghan, her ethereal silk veil stretching sixteen feet behind her literally took my breath away.

Later, I watched the entire recording of the wedding, captivated by every nuance. I wasn’t alone, as an estimated two billion people around the world tuned in to catch a glimpse of the American “commoner” marrying her handsome British prince.

The love story of Meghan and Harry (now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) breathes life into a classic song from the Disney movie, Snow White:

Some day my prince will come
Some day we’ll meet again
And away to his castle we’ll go,
To be happy forever I know. [1]

The tune, originally released in 1937, is so popular it was ranked the 19th greatest film song of all time by the American Film Institute in 2004. [2]  Perhaps one reason is because the lyrics appeal to the deep desire that most women (and men) have to find their perfect soulmates and live “happily ever after.”

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of Mr. or Mrs. Right. We are all wired with the need for companionship and intimacy . . . and marriage is a sacred union ordained by God.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t a fairy tale.

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The most dangerous heart failure

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We’re always hearing about the importance of taking care of our hearts. Health advocates urge us to eat right, exercise, and keep our blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Lately, I’ve noticed a television commercial that focuses on the connection between diabetes and a higher incidence of cardiovascular problems.

Yet with all these warnings, I’ve rarely heard anyone talk about the greatest risk factor of all: letting our hearts grow hardened. I’m not talking about the organ in our chest that pumps blood—but rather, the figurative center of our being from which emotion, passion, and spirituality pulsates.

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When it’s okay to break a secret

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Can you keep a secret?” she asked. “Sure!” was my quick reply, thinking I was going to hear something light-hearted.

My friend then confided that she had been doing something inappropriate for several weeks. It wasn’t illegal, and it wasn’t hurting anyone, but I knew it was wrong . . . and so did she.

I immediately offered an alternative so she could stop what she was doing, but she adamantly declined.

We parted ways, and I felt the weight of an ethical dilemma sink like a boulder in the pit of my stomach.

If I broke her secret, I would betray her confidence and risk losing our fledgling friendship. Yet if I stayed silent, I would be part of a cover-up.

I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Continue reading