“Joy, Hope, and Faith” by Carol Custus | August 5, 2020
Covid-19 and the social unrest in the country has taken quite a toll on many of us. I have had to finally come to grips with the toll they have taken on me. To say that I was not handling this whole situation well is an understatement. The anger and the “them vs us” mentality that has arisen from all of this was, and continues to be, distressing to me. As the social distancing and quarantine drag on with no end in sight I have no idea when I will be able to engage in the activities that bring me joy, such as gathering with my St. Paul’s Community, gathering with my Fairfield County Chorale Community, even gathering with my co-workers. As I continuously thought about my loss of community, I found myself drifting into depression. No matter how I tried I couldn’t find positive in any of this. All I could see was loss. I began to lose my joy, hope and faith as I watched and read about fellow citizens being unkind to one another over something so simple as whether to wear a mask or not and the anger and vitriol over what lives matter. As my unhappiness deepened, I realized I had to do something about it, because I know that this is not who I am. I remember a colleague once told me that I was the strongest person he knew. I certainly wasn’t acting like it in this situation. I didn’t recognize myself. Who was this sad and depressed person? I remembered reading or hearing a bible verse where the writer talked about cheering himself up. So, rather than waiting for things to change, I knew that if I was going to feel better, I would have to make a decision to feel better, to cheer up, to go after what I lost (joy, hope, faith).
Pre-Covid, I had a two-week vacation scheduled for a Mediterranean cruise, but since I wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to take a one-week vacation to focus on finding my way back to me. I turned off the news, stayed away from social media (other than to wish people happy birthday) and put a filter on my email. What I did instead was spend time in nature such as sitting on my deck listening to the birds, taking walks in the cemetery next door and watching the chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits play. I went to the beach in the morning and sat and looked at the water and watched the seagulls. As I watched them fly and pick at the sand it made me think of the scripture verse about how the birds don’t worry about where their next meal is going to come from, they just live in the moment. I listened to music that I enjoy, and I dug out all the positive poetry and books I have lying around the house that speak to how to find Joy, Hope and Faith in life. And when I picked my grandson up at daycare, I actually listened closely and asked questions as he told me about his day.
I am not completely healed, but I am in a much better place then I was one week ago. I know that this is a journey and it is one that I will continue to be on as long as I am alive. But I also know that I am not alone, and that the Spirit lives within me. But I must also do my part and make the decision to be filled with joy, filled with hope and filled with faith. They are not just going to fall on me. And in order to do that it is up to me to decide what activities I am going to engage in and support. I believe that is part of the free will that God gives to me; so instead of giving in to despair, I must make the choice to receive what the Spirit offers by doing my part to engage in those activities that feed and keep those feelings alive within me no matter what life brings.