{Courage}

My Bible reading plan had me at the beginning of the book of Joshua when the Covid-19 restrictions began.  The Lord said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.”  Over and over again, setting the tone for the whole book, the Lord says, “Be strong and courageous.”
When my daughter’s Irish dance events began to be cancelled.
      Be strong and courageous.
When we heard rumors of travel restrictions, and then saw the reality taking place.
     Be strong and courageous.
When my son’s senior collegiate track season ended.
     Be strong and courageous.
When it was announced that my school would be closing for 6 weeks.
     Be strong and courageous.
When we made the call to bring my daughter home early from her internship in London.
     Be strong and courageous.
As we hear of friends around the world who have become sick and recovered.
     Be strong and courageous.
As we hear of friends who are in places with stricter lockdown measures than we are in.
     Be strong and courageous.
As we hear of people dying and lack of supplies.
     Be strong and courageous.
When I went to Wal-Mart and saw empty shelves.
     Be strong and courageous.
As we continue to move forward into uncharted waters, new social norms, and living in the middle of a pandemic.
Be strong and courageous.
I wrote another post awhile ago about how bravery doesn’t feel brave, and I have similar thoughts on the word courage.  While the images that the word conjures are usually of warriors with mad skills, strength doesn’t often require courage.  Courage is when we are afraid or unqualified to do something, yet we take a risk and do it anyway.  Being courageous does take a strength of heart and mind, though, and a trust in something that is outside of ourselves.
Through all of this change, sometimes with it coming hour by hour, I haven’t felt very strong or courageous.  I’ve had to spend quite a few days processing all these feelings and losses.  Trying to do that in the middle of a house full of people presents its own challenges.  For someone who is an introvert, alone time is now at a premium.  Navigating how to be a teacher who works from home, setting boundaries with my housebound peeps (who mostly are bored out of their minds), making time to explore and understand and feel my own feelings, and still finding time to write and do all the writerly things has proven a mix that’s been impossible to find.  You’d think that by being home all the time that I’d have more time on my hands, but it’s definitely been a challenge.
This blog has been pretty silent through most of this initial adjustment to our “new normal.”  In the flurry of adjusting to remote teaching, the efforts to get my daughter home from London (she’s home, yay!), and processing the emotions of the different types of loss that this virus has brought upon our world, even my Writing Wednesday posts have taken a back burner.  The more important work of navigating this brave new world in a healthy way has taken precedence in my life.  It is my hope that these words of transparency and reality will give you permission to also take time to feel what you need to feel and process all the things in healthy and life-giving ways.
As we move forward, in some ways, things around here have settled into a new sense of normalcy.  Each day still brings new challenges, from dealing with the boredom of my peeps, and sorting out this work from home thing, to new strictures set in place by our governor, and wondering if there will be TP the next time I’m at the store. (We’re all good so far.)  A big challenge in our house?  Consuming more news than is necessary or healthy.  I was chatting with a friend today who has a rule that the news is not allowed to be on all the time.  I think I’m going to adopt this as a healthy boundary in my home.
Time is passing and we are adjusting, and I’m beginning to find hope and light again.  I still feel a definite sense of loss, and there are still many unknowns out there…  Will my son have a graduation ceremony?  Will we be able to go back to school this year?  What will summer be like this year?  Being strong and courageous right now looks more like waiting and praying, especially in the unknown.  But I love this part of  the first chapter of Joshua:  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9b) There it is.  The “why” of why we can be strong and courageous, why Joshua was able to be, even in the face of an unknown future:  “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In the face of uncertainty, of plague and death and loss, I find my strength and courage in Him, because He is with me wherever I go.

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