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An Uncivil War: The battle our social distancing reveals

The other day, a dear friend wrote in words that she had the nerve to share out loud, and then in an even gutsier move, shared publicly. Apparently, she had mustered the gumption to admit that despite the good things she’s able to see in her world right now, she’s struggling a bit with grieving both the uncertain and the certainty of what has been lost because of our “new normal”.

Her hard to hear, yet well written words left me uneasy.

Enough with the ‘authenticity’, Carol. Get out of my grill.

Her name isn’t Carol. And she wasn’t in my grill.

But God was. And using “Carol’s” words, He was calling me out.

So, just like that, when my Social Media Drill Sergeant, Err, Um, I mean Wonderful Social Media Guru, asked me what we would be talking about this week in our blog, I knew what God wanted me to say. And I knew my Guru would want me to say it too. Because she was feeling the “uneasy” too.

To be clear, I’m doing my best to “practice what I preach”. I’m working to find creative ways to shine light where I can in my neighborhood and to those in need, wherever they might be.

Friends and family have joined me for virtual coffee, virtual parties and/or just to virtually hang out together for parts of our day. (In case you missed it, those get-togethers are virtual.)

I’m consuming media responsibly and not falling into the negative news vortex. I’m even searching hashtags like #noticingmoregood to help me stay informed on all the positive.

Gratitude has become an increasingly important practice in my world as I seek to reinforce the healthiest networks in my brain. (Did you get your free copy of our experiential gratitude journal? If not, here ya go!

I’m cooking, exercising, organizing (ish), praying, meditating, painting and of course, writing (which is how you’re reading this right now).

And yet…

Here I am entering week 2.5 of my staying at home (because it’s the responsible thing to do) and with all the social distancing and uncertainty, something is revealing itself with all my distractions removed.

And because of it, sometimes, “sheltering in place” doesn’t really feel like shelter at all.

I promise this is in no way a contradiction or retraction of what I shared last week (if you didn’t get a chance to read it, here’s the link so you’ll know the important thing I’m not contradicting.)

It's still good for our brains (and our souls!) to stay positive and continue to look for ways to “be the light”. But we must hold that in tension with allowing ourselves to be honest about the uncertainty, grieving and even the anxiety that can come with the challenges we’re all facing right now.

When we don’t name it, or if we attempt to conceal it, the biggest bluff of all is that we’ve concealed it from ourselves. It can set off the most uncivil of wars within us, resulting in heightened anxiety and the kind of full-contact exhaustion that comes from the wasted emotional, mental and spiritual energy that is required to delude ourselves.

But, by naming our emotions, out loud, like “Carol” did, it reduces their power. It also gives us a chance to stand with others who might be feeling the same way and are afraid to say it.

Granted, we don’t want to rehearse those things, because they can then consume us. But we do want to be honest with ourselves about those things that we’re struggling with and hold them in tension with all the positive things we can do for others and for ourselves.

As for Carol, I had virtual coffee with her this week too. And she is doing great. And also, she isn’t. But mostly she is, because she’s being honest with herself and with others. She’s sharing her struggles and reinforcing the good in her life too. She’s reaching out to be a light to others (including me) and it’s wonderful. And I love her for it.

As for me, I’m struggling with some anxiety about all the unknown. Because us recovering control freaks hate the unknown.

Next week I’ll need to face some things that bring that home in a big way. But I won’t face them alone. I’ll face them with my God and my tribe (virtually, of course!). And that will make all the difference in the world.

Oh! And I will continue to do all those other things; the positive ones, I mentioned earlier too. Because those feed the good in and around me.

How about you? What are the things in your world that seem to be in complete contradiction of each other and yet are completely, simultaneously true in your world?

Name them. Out loud. To yourself and preferably to someone else too.

Let the Light take away some of their power. Then love yourself and others enough to re-engage with the things that feed your soul and remind you that there will be an “other” side to all of this. While we don’t know exactly what it will all look like, we can hold out hope for what it will hold for each of us.

And hope is a wonderful thing to share.


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