Pandemic Thoughts: Holding On

I woke up thinking about helium balloons today.  I could almost see my eldest daughter as a blonde, curly-haired, stubborn little toddler with still-baby wrists.  She’s walking down a cracked sidewalk in the hot summer sun, her favorite teal t-shirt riding up around her belly and her shorts a little too small.  She’s holding the string of a helium balloon with fierce determination.  She doesn’t want me to touch it; she persistently believes she’s got it under control.

But I can see the string is slipping through her grip.  She’s fussing and arguing with me about how she doesn’t want my help, but I can see what’s coming.  It’s about to get away from her.  She’s about to lose it.

I finally convince her to stop, and I gently loop the plastic ribbon around her wrist – tying it into a loose knot.  She still grasps the string in her hand, but I’ve anchored it now.  The balloon won’t fly away.

five assorted balloons
Photo by Padli Pradana on Pexels.com

And as this image floated through my mind this morning, I felt the whisper deep in my heart: You need anchoring, Carrie.  Let me anchor you.

My thoughts in the morning (…and in the afternoon, and while I’m walking for the mail and when the kids are bickering about who had the red marker first, and, well you get the idea…) can be a bit like that balloon in the clumsy grip of my overly-confident toddler.  They are expansive and floating and taking me to places I can’t yet see.  In the thick of these moments, I’m stubbornly trying to manage it all, clinging to what I think I can problem-solve with all I can muster… but the truth is, the balloon of my feelings and my thoughts is getting away from me.

Quite simply: I’m about to lose it.

…we’re running out of masks and ventilators and then it will be nurses and doctors…
…it’s about to be Grapes of Wrath, Take 2 in this country…
…where does our country have 2 trillion dollars stashed away; how will we pay for this as a nation…
…what about my friends with small businesses; I want to support them… but also I am supposed to stay home… and I really don’t want to spend money right now…
…how are we going to pay our own bills if Jacob is laid off and there’s no work here… will we have to move?…
…how does this incident change my Asian daughter’s future in America, where racism and hate crimes are on the uptick.  It’s not just hypothetical; an Asian family was stabbed at Sam’s a few minutes from my house just a few days ago…
…what’s happened to our 401k and the kids’ college funds? nevermind… I don’t want to know yet…
…where do I find eggs and flour and what if toilet paper isn’t back in stock when I need it again?…
…how is a nation that values individual liberty above all else navigate a situation that requires collective cooperation and putting others first…
…will I see my grandparents again?…
…even if we get it under control here, it’s literally everywhere in the world.  Like a forest fire with hotspots, it’s just going to keep popping up… Are we just going to live in perpetual lockdown?…

Like the balloon, I’m floating wildly and spinning further and further from a place of calm.

Suddenly Matthew 6:34 moves from being a nice little platitude that I’d see on a plaque at Mardel’s to a clarion call… it’s the emergency lighting on an airline going down, offering clear direction for the only through this… Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.   What’s interesting to me is that right now it doesn’t feel like a shaming statement.  God’s not “shoulding” on me and telling me to try harder not to be afraid.  He’s offering me a way to hold on, and it requires giving up what I thought I could manage on my own.

And with that recognition, I feel a tiny little slip knot over my wrist.  A knot called ‘Today.’  And I know that anchoring into this day gives me the grounding I need to hold on… for today.

Today I can walk with my kids in the sunshine to the neighborhood elementary school and pick-up a free lunch for them that’s passed out by smiling volunteers, waving at smiling neighbors out with their kids to do the same thing.
Today I can find a source for eggs, when I need them, from a friend with lots of chickens.
Today I can find multiple copies of the book Cora needs for her reading assignment, just by asking if anyone has it.
Today I can talk to my grandma on the phone and hear how she feels so grateful and blessed by this time and proud of all the ways her family is taking care of her.
Today I can say yes when a friend calls and offers to give me a couch for my living room, something I’ve wanted for a while but had put on an indefinite purchasing hold given current financial uncertainty.
Today I can sit in the backyard and read a chapter book out loud to my girls and literally not feel like I have anywhere else I need to be.
Today I can cease striving and do the best thing I can for our community and our world – stay home.

Today.

I can do this today.  You can do this today.  We can do this today.

Each time my thoughts run away from me today, I picture that balloon I gently tethered to my baby’s wrist.  And like a toddler whose mother knows the best way forward is to tether the prized-balloon to her wrist, the only thing we really can do in times like these is pause and relinquish our desire to solely be in charge of holding onto these wildly-unpredictable balloons dancing in the currents of pandemics and politics and plunging markets.   We pause and accept that love looks like God’s tethering… to this present moment, with its worries enough, as a place where he promises to lend his presence.

I can hold on for today. That’s enough.  I’m grounded and tethered and dare-I-say, even feeling a little hopeful.  For in this present moment, I’m finding many gifts… there is beauty in the way we suddenly need each other and help carry one another; beauty in slowing down; beauty in being tethered to today.

And after all, tomorrow will be today soon enough.

 

 

 


7 thoughts on “Pandemic Thoughts: Holding On

  1. Carrie! This is just beautiful. I thank you for your most wonderful thoughts. What a gift for writing you have. You have painted a beautiful picture of hope and peace for TODAY.
    Much much love to you and your family,
    Jan Goree

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  2. I listened to a sermon on this passage last Sunday and he referenced the above passage about where our treasures are. I am seeing just how much of my treasure is in earthy things and confidence. I long for more of Jesus and confidence in his eternal treasure and love. Shari

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    1. Yes – this has been so revealing to me about where I’ve put my faith and confidence as well. For me, it’s less about the virus at this point and more about the economic implications for our family. It’s an undoing for sure…

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