We are now over eight months into this Covid pandemic. The initial hype has morphed into a heaviness that is hard to shake. It lingers and colors our days, affecting our mood and wiping away our smiles.
The nature of this crisis is all-consuming. Changes at work, new patterns at home, children with school disruptions fill every spare moment. The length of the pandemic is wearing us down. On top of this, though, is a preoccupation that is exacerbating the problem. We can’t shake the pandemic. It niggles into every conversation. I am way too often guilty of this preoccupation.
Preoccupation, by definition, means the time before we are occupied. It’s the layer we create in addition to the reality we face. Preoccupation takes many forms. Until we name the various faces of preoccupation, we are unlikely to have any success in overcoming its negative influence.
Fear is the most paralyzing form of preoccupation. For many people, either because of risk to themselves or risk to those they love, fear is entirely understandable. Though fear may be understandable, it is not inevitable. We can be careful and courageous at the same time. There are so many ways to live full, joyous lives amid the constraints. We are not meant to live controlled by fear.
Worry and anxiety are close cousins to fear. We may not personally be afraid of what the disease will do, but its tentacles reach wide. We are worried about our jobs or our children or our parents. Sometimes the worry is just undefined angst that we can’t escape. The environment around us can easily cause worry to become our default habit.
Disruption is another form of preoccupation. Every day gives ample opportunity to be reminded that everything has changed. Masks follow us everywhere, as soon as we leave the house. A simple dinner out involves scanning menus and straining to understand muffled specials from waiters. We cannot get away from the constancy of the cloud hanging over our heads.
Finally, many suffer from obsession related to Covid. We keep up with the latest news and stats. We talk about it in every conversation. We ponder vaccines, and when the pandemic will end. We are both pre-occupied and occupied by the virus every waking minute.
What can we do to become less preoccupied?
Turn down the noise!
We may not be able to turn off the noise completely, but we can at least turn down the volume. Put boundaries on the news you let into your ears. We can stay informed without allowing ourselves to be continuously inundated every moment of the day. When we choose to enter the fray, turn down the volume by being selective of who you listen to and when you listen (Hint: Don’t start or end your day with Covid).
Turn toward trust!
If we step back from the constancy of the pandemic that turns to fear, worry, distraction, and obsession, we can choose to trust in the One who knows every hair on our head, and is in control of every day that we breathe. He is in control, not Covid.
By turning down the volume and turning toward trust, we have the chance to become less pre-occupied by Coronavirus and become more occupied with living the good life that God desires for us.
Do not allow this pandemic to sabotage your heart.