By Amanda Jackman
Ok. I’m going to say it. This pandemic SUCKS! I would use stronger language, but this being a Christian publication, I will refrain.
I’m not sure how you are feeling, but I’m worn out. I think being honest is valuable in a time of crisis, as it can help you understand how you are coping – and what you may need to carry on.
First, a little background on me. I am a regular church-goer, and very active in my parish. I am the volunteer communication coordinator at Holy Trinity in Lucan and my full-time job is in health care where I work as a communication consultant. I’m also a full-time mom of two young children, and a self-admitted germaphobe, control freak and “Type A” personality.
At my work I have been exclusively working on the pandemic and have been in crisis-mode since January. I lost eight pounds in March due to stress, and gained it all back with my favourite new food group – potato chips. I’ve lost hair, my skin has gone bonkers and my reoccurring back spasm won’t quit.
When I began working on COVID-19 the map of the world only had two impacted countries painted in bright caution-red. Now, well over a half a year later – almost the entire globe is red. I have to admit it’s sad, scary and daunting.
I, like many others grapple with decisions around sending my children to school, attending church, and trying to live somewhat normally as I watch the numbers creep up across the province and the world. I worry about my safety and the safety of my loved ones. I feel helpless, nervous and tired.
So where does one go from here? I would consider myself a realist but if I’m being honest I’m a bit of a pessimist. If you are a more positive thinker than me – you already have a leg up. The other day I was reminded I wasn’t doing a good job of listening to my favorite saying: Let Go, Let God. And I have to admit – I’m not.
I pondered for a few days on what to focus on in this editorial. What could I possibly say to help others reflect on their journey during COVID-19? Would it be about being good to yourself, asking for help, leaning on others? Would it be about taking it one day at a time, not taking anything for granted, finding strength in faith, resting, shutting off the news, not panicking when things seem dire?
As many people do, they look toward their faith in difficult times and I did just that, and you know what? It didn’t help. Maybe you have had a similar experience. I said so many prayers to end this pandemic quickly. I gave up in June, when we hit the six-month mark. I was missing my family and friends, social interactions, hugs, being at work, church, feeling secure in our health care system, and I was damn tired of being afraid.
Amanda Jackman, Volunteer Communication Coordinator, at Holy Trinity in Lucan.
As the Province opens up and people adjust to a “more familiar” way of living, I’m having trouble shifting out of the place I have built for myself, where I stay away from people and situations as best I can. I didn’t step foot in a store for four months. My first foray into a grocery store was harder than I expected.
Perhaps I sound extreme to you. I know many people who aren’t really bothered by this global situation – they are enjoying doing things, almost as normal. I often long to be that person just for a day, just for a break. Or perhaps I don’t sound extreme to you. Perhaps your concerns aren’t too far from my own. Maybe you have different fears, but can relate.
When I was going through an especially trying time, I mentioned my exhaustion to a friend who is also a boxing coach. He immediately texted back, “YOU’VE FORGOTTEN HOW TO TAKE THE EIGHT COUNT!” I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. So, I looked it up and discovered a mandatory eight count (also called protection count) is a to shelter boxers from unnecessary damage. The referee gives boxers a short count to take a moment to regain their senses and assess if they are ready to get back to the fight. The eight count was first used in a title match in the early 60s. Boxer, Floyd Patterson said, "The eight-count helped me, those extra few seconds gave my head a chance to clear.” And after getting knocked down twice during that fight in 1961, Patterson knocked out his opponent in the sixth round– to a victory.
I once participated in a diocesan workshop and the Bishop, now Primate, Linda Nicholls reflected on how to reach people. Something she said really hit home. “It’s ok to not have all the answers,” she told us. During this pandemic, that is something we all need to recognize. We may not have answers. So how do we continue to live as productively as possible when feeling overwhelmed?
In a recent conversation with my Reverend, Matt Martin, I mentioned feeling rather weak, that I was experiencing lost motivation, lack of energy to exercise, not eating properly, and joked about my official new food group of deep-fried potatoes. Rev. Matt dropped an interesting thought-nugget, as he often does. During my personal pity-party about needing to find my strength again, he simply said, “commit to health first, strength will follow.”
And so, I spent some time thinking about that. I realized that maybe my journey right now isn’t at all about finding strength (which I have beating myself up about not having). I realized I needed a healthier mind-set. And it dawned on me – it’s about courage.
Getting through this pandemic takes courage. We are all fighting. We are all in the ring battling the impact of the virus on our wellbeing, along with a myriad of other personal issues that don’t go away just because of a pandemic. I finally realized all I needed was to be brave.
Maybe being brave is simply getting out of bed, or heading to work, or calling a friend, or grocery shopping, or sending your kids to school with no answers or assurances.
Gokham Saki, a two-time fighting champion said, “I don’t know how I’m going to win. I just know I’m not going to lose.” Maybe that’s the perspective we all need – I’m not sure how I’m going to get through this. I just know I will.
In Mark (5:35) when Jairus’ is told his daughter is dead, Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he goes to her and says, “Talitha cumi” or “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
And she does. Jesus gave her a miraculous eight count. A moment to rest - and to get up again.
During this pandemic that is all we are asked to do. To be brave when we can, to keep getting up – and to trust in ourselves that you can get through this.
"Rise up. Take Courage. And do it." (Ezra 10:4)
Amanda Jackman, Volunteer Communication Coordinator, wearing her mask at Holy Trinity in Lucan.