Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

Tag: Covid19

Gotta go through it

Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Have to go through it. Those words from the refrain of the children’s song, “Going on a Bear Hunt,” keep running through my mind. I’ve been looking for a vacation spot, a weekend activity, an outing that would let me get around the coronavirus. What I keep running into is the reality that what I want to escape, unlike the heat and humidity of a midwestern summer or the bitter cold of February in Chicago, is everywhere. 

Like dustbowl sand, Covid19 seeps into every corner of our lives. The grocery store clerk can’t see our smile and chatting through the mask is nearly impossible. Things we counted on have been cancelled. Decisions about playdates, neighborhood cocktails parties, and running errands demand that we think like epidemiologists. (I don’t know about you, but my last hard science class was in 1986). The constant decisions and changes to our daily lives erode at our capacity to manage the big stuff, like schools going remote and jobs being restructured. 

The Coronavirus effects every part of our lives and it’s happening to all of us. Maybe remembering, “It’s happening to them too,” can bring us back to our better selves. Covid19 is happening to our boss, our neighbor, the grocery store clerk and the coffee shop barista. It’s happening to village board members, schoolteachers, and garbage truck drivers. It’s even happening to the people who pretend it’s not happening. None of us can escape Covid19. We are all in it together. 

Maybe this is what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Maybe he was telling us that school superintendents, pastors, and village board members aren’t epidemiologists either. They’re tasked with making important decisions in an area totally beyond their expertise. Maybe Jesus is reminding us that the other moms on Facebook, teachers, and the guy in the grocery store who acts like the one-way sign in the aisle is for everyone but him, are all struggling with their own anxieties and disappointments. 

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” says Jesus. When we are finally past the pandemic and we can see each other’s faces, we will be in it (whatever the new “it” is) together.

One Small Step Towards a Big Change

Lying on the coach watching an episode of West Wing I’d seen 12 times, I took inventory of my life: I’d spent most of my week attending webinars on the Payroll Protection Plan, saying “hi” the 20-something dad pushing a stroller was as close to flirting as I’d been in six months, and my fat pants were tight. I fantasized about a life of hiking and writing, but I live in the flat lands of Illinois and hadn’t written a single non-church related thing in months. This was not what I wanted from my life.

I promised myself I’d spend the next morning writing for an hour, running 3 miles, doing some strength training, and walking my dog. Instead, I took my coffee to my armchair in the sunny window where I read and scrolled through social media. I could fantasize about the life I wanted, but I couldn’t do anything to make that life a reality.

But then I weighed myself. The number on the scale was proof I couldn’t ignore that I’d been over-indulging in booze and ice cream while sliding into a sedentary existence. Something woke up in my brain and I made a small shift. I started paying a bit more attention to what I ate. I turned to fruit for snacks instead of ice cream and let go of the nightly beer in front of the TV. I learned a little bit more about nutrition and tracked my calories. I started planning my meals. It made a difference. I lost weight, I have more energy, my mood lifted.

There’s more happening than just fitting into the pair of pants I haven’t been able to wear in two years. I am writing again and starting to plan a trip to go hiking. I’m crafting a life that fits me.

It’s easy to feel at the mercy of global events, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic with an idiot at the nation’s helm. In my work as a pastor there’s always more to do than time to do it. I’m really good at finding excuses to not live my most authentic life. By claiming my personal agency over what I eat, I’m claiming my agency over the rest of my life. Life doesn’t just happen to me.

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