Its been 14 days since my husband and I went for our last meal out for who knows how long at the Left Bank here in York PA. The President of the United States and the Governor of our state made announcements urging Americans to reduce crowd sizes and avoid large gatherings, create six feet of space between ourselves and others. We were encouraged to wash our hands almost obsessively to reduce community spread of COVID-19 to help flatten the curve and hopefully avoid infections and potential loss of life.
St. Patrick's Day parades were cancelled, schools were closed and people began to panic. We all started to see a run on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and chemicals that could make hand sanitizer.
Like other leaders, I've spent countless hours navigating the many requirements of running a non-profit business in light of this pandemic. Cancelling job sites, informing 25 thousand stakeholders consisting of, families, volunteers, partners and subcontractors of our progressive safety pre-cautions that eventually led to the total operation shut down. We ramped up to enable staff to work remotely in less than 36 hours. Many of us would agree even the best emergency preparedness/operations contingency plans didn't account for what would be needed for this sudden pandemic. Lesson learned.
My personal life and the needs of my family didn't stop just because I had to handle this emergency, so I juggled the trips to the grocery store, cooking meals and making sure we had what we would need if we ended up in a martial law situation. I even went as far to make sure we had enough but not hoarding of basic supplies in the event that we lost power or water for some unknown reasons. My eldest son and husband, are life-sustaining employees, so they would not be at home, like I would.
All of that said, I would be completely missing the point of this blog if I did not mention my personal response to all of this. From the beginning of this I've had no personal fear, but have thought deeply about how several people groups would be affected. Lets remember bars and liquor stores are closed, people forced to stay at home, unemployed, many have zero balances or negative ones in their bank accounts and children who live with addicts, who may now be angrier and even more neglectful. What about kids that don't have addicts for parents, but the resources for three meals a day just aren't available. They'll be hungry and in many cases alone. What about the marriages coming apart at the seams, and now the pressure of this makes everything worse. The single mom who has zero help. What would life be like for them? What about the isolated elderly. What about the employees who have to work and put themselves in harms way everyday! The terminally ill. The list of those who will suffer most feels endless. So I do the only thing I know to do when overwhemled. I worship and I pray!
Certainly not as important, but at the same time all of my speaking engagements have been cancelled through June 2020. How can I share hope if I can't get in front of people? I can't physically go to each home, it's not permitted and I wouldn't know which doors to knock on anyway. You see my little way of bringing hope to others, to those who know Christ and those who don't, is to SPEAK. I use my voice and my story to bring hope to others. It's really all I know how to do, except cooking and the occasional gift or word of encouragement. During 9-11, I was drunk the entire time and I was alone! I'm neither anymore and I just want to help!
Like many of you at home, my days and nights are mixed up and I rarely change my outer garments. I've been wearing the same pair Abercrombie and Fitch sweatpants for 4 days. Every day I shower and think I should put a new pair of yoga pants on and I quickly shake that off, knowing the only people who will see me will be my children and the many above the waist ZOOM video conferencing meetings I have had and will have. This crisis from a communications perspective has required countless hours of watching press conferences, reviewing executive orders at all levels that have been signed, new acts that have surfaced and all to keep everyone informed and make sound decisions. It can be exhausting, but maybe I can bring hope by bringing consistent and clear information to people! That doesn't feel like enough either.
I'm in the word of God, listening to praise music when I can, and focusing on enjoying being home with my 13 year old as precious time. It has been precious, all of this has been precious to me. The thought of those suffering deeply affects me, but I also have hope. My Faith and Hope is in Christ, the word of God and the altar I've built in my memories of all the things the Lord has seen me through. As I've been praying and asking the Lord how I can encourage and bless others, he's been faithful to give me small and safe ways to do so. I won't share them here, because they are personal and not meant for the public. However in all of this, I have felt very strongly that the Lord wants me to video record my whole testimony and share it publicly. On the surface this doesn't sound like a big deal for me, because I speak a lot and share my story very openly. This is different though, once something is on video and the internet, its basically there forever. Right?
This isn't something I want to do, but I know now I must. Interesting because most of my prayers over the 16 years I've been a Christian have been "God let me share the story of how you saved me!!" So my internal resistance to this was somewhat of a shock to me. Yet, I sense that this is one way to bring hope, to whoever God chooses to see it during this time when many of us are captive to our computers as a means of connecting and communicating. We really have no distractions! They've been stripped, for now!
I'm no different.
In conclusion, all of us can do something to encourage those around us during this uncertain time. Although I'm not afraid and you may not be afraid either, others are and bringing comfort and reassurance is never wasted! So if you haven't already, ask God what He wants you to do in this time and then obey. I've received and seen many blessings come out of this and I know you will to, if you haven't already!
My recorded testimony will be out in the next two weeks, and I will probably be wearing my Abercrombie and Fitch comfy pants, although they'll be clean, since they are in the washer right now! Blessings to you!