When we lose, and losses mount the more we live, we enter the murky landscape of the stages of grief. I wish they were hard, measurable stages with concrete beginning and ending dates, but that would be too easy. We can say goodbye to so many things, people, places, but how do we say goodbye to the Self? Because whether we understand this or not, the Self is mostly a construction we have made from temporal things: the reflection of ourselves in the eyes of others — so often called love that we may come to believe that definition; a life of material pursuit, ambitious desire, even fame, may lurk underneath our daily activities; the voices of long ago that still drive us in the most minute decisions.
Our daily lives have morphed into something we don’t recognize as our own. Whether we work on the front lines in hospital wards or wait patiently at home for school to begin again, we know that life as we lived it will be forever changed into something we don’t recognize as our nation’s birthright.
We have a chance now to choose our path ahead. Greed drove our nation’s institutions; the almighty dollar decreed a one-size-fits-all curriculum that destroyed student curiosity and turned schools into test markets for tests, students into data mines, and teachers into scapegoats when the system failed.
Now that system is closed down. In a bid to assert its relevance, officials are reacting to calls for online education — something they should have invested in as opposed to blind allegiance to testing.
Hospitals, top heavy with administrators, have long forced skeletal staffs to do more with so much less, so that now the ugly truth of corporate greed is laid bare.
But what about those of us juggling ideas for remote work, reporting for “essential duties,” and stretching food supplies, rationed to single gallons of milk and shopping for masks while following stay-at-home mandates?
We were different before the pandemic. We did not question whether food would be available. We had every confidence we could provide for our families. Work would always be there. Markets would sell us what we needed. Schools would teach our children. And if we got sick or injured, the area hospitals would care for us. Now, Tennessee has called the Corps of Engineers in to retrofit convention centers as hospitals. Navy hospital ships are docked off both coasts. Prisons are releasing inmates, proving it was not necessary to hold them in the first place. Nearly all institutions are closed. Nothing is certain and the American way of life is threatened.
We are what we are based on our manna — what we feed on — and our reasonable confidence in who we are. We will go through a period in which we grieve what we were. The same grief comes when we lose someone through death or a split. We lose the part of ourselves reflected in that person.
Let’s find the authentic part of ourselves that forms the fabric and good foundation of our community and country. False foundations crumble. Our schools, despite the PR and testing hype, failed to nurture kids, let alone teachers. Many people ate themselves into sickness and expected doctors to fix the damage. Some of us gained our entire self-worth from a mate only to resent them for not fulfilling our “needs.” What we consider “need” has undergone wholesale change. We now see our expectations were misplaced. Our vision clear, many of us are defining for ourselves, for the first time, what it means to be a wife, husband, worker, Christ-follower, community helper, creative being, self-directed student, free-thinker, American.
Our country threw off the shackles of oppression, not once but many times. We may have to weather a storm, but we don’t have to allow our spirits to be chained up by tyrants whose god is themselves. Marginalized people have known this for centuries, but now, we are all marginalized. The virus is no respecter of persons.
The Apostle Paul advised us, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” We are joint-heirs with Christ if we have dedicated our lives to Him, receiving Him as the Savior and Lord of our lives. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Both King David and the Apostle Paul said our true lives are hidden in Christ. He is our refuge. This is our true confidence, our sure foundation. He is the Manna, the minute-by-minute provision.
I didn’t know my brother would die in January 2018 or that January 2018 would bring record cold to the Southeastern U.S. Visiting him at ICU Vanderbilt through the fall, I walked from far-away parking lots to his room in unseasonably warm weather. I never thought I would need a heavy winter coat.
But in his last days, the temps dropped to single digits — for a high — almost unheard of where I live. Around Christmas, I ordered two coats from Amazon — one for my niece and one for myself. I waited, suiting up according to the universal precautions mandate resulting from his diagnosis of multiple infections. The nurses told me to throw out my jackets, and one-by-one I lost them all.
He died at 12:20 January 1 — saw the New Year in and checked out.
My Amazon shipment still hadn’t come in.
On January 5, we got ready for the funeral and burial. The temp was five degrees Fahrenheit.
I had the car keys in my hand, my other hand on the door. I stepped onto the porch. The Fed Ex driver literally handed me the package before I hit the top step. I tore it open, put on the coat, and I thanked Yeshua, the Bread of Life.
“Deborah (His Spirit-name for me), I’m never late,” He said.
“My sheep hear My voice,” Yeshua says to us now. We must get quiet and listen. Sure, I don’t take myself too seriously. My kid and I watch some classic shows. We take walks down to the pond and watch a resident blue heron find his sustenance. There are video game sessions. But, every morning, I rise, talking to Yeshua, thanking Him, listening for His Daily Bread, the Manna I need for that moment. Because this time, we won’t get a one-size-fits-all answer. We will each find a lighted pathway, illuminated by the Living Word, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute.
Andrea Mosier is the author of Come up Hither: 30 Days to Deeper Communtion with Yeshua Hamashiach available at Google Books, Balboa Press, and most online bookstores.