Happy Saturday, dear reader. I’m so glad you dropped in. If you’re new to Dressed for My Day, you may not know that on Saturday’s I turn my focus to inner beauty. Monday through Friday I share physical beauty and fashion tips, shopping guides and outfit ideas. But on Saturday we talk about inner beauty. Today, in light of the atmosphere in our world right now, I thought it might be good to remind ourselves of the beauty of a calming influence.
In a crisis situation…
Yesterday as I folded laundry I decided to turn the television on to see if I could catch any news about the Coronavirus and the current state of affairs in our country. I knew schools, sporting events, conventions and other large gatherings had been closing rapidly. And my husband was at work at that very moment meeting with other leaders of our church to decide whether or not to have even one Sunday service. Life as we had known it was changing at a fast pace.
I happened to turn on the news just as the President of the United States was stepping before the press with a gathering of CEOs and leaders from the private sector. As I folded socks and shirts I found myself glued to the news conference, looking for some reassurance that appropriate measures were being taken to handle the impending crisis.
Honestly, while I understand the seriousness of this virus and unique diagnostic challenges it presents, I’m not awfully worried about becoming sick with it myself. I do worry a little for my parents and other senior adults. My dad has just recovered from a bout of pneumonia and certainly doesn’t need to be exposed to the virus. And my daughter, who works in a retail store, has asthma. So I worry a little about her.
But I’ve also become increasingly concerned about the impact of this health scare on our economy. As I mentioned, my daughter relies on wages from a retail chain. And I know so many other Americans could potentially lose work hours from this ordeal. Undoubtedly, many in our country will be called upon to go above and beyond to serve extra hours in their roles in hospitals, nursing homes, the National Guard and other capacities, while many more will be restricted from carrying out the jobs they count on. So even if a person never comes in contact with the virus, their lives could be seriously impacted.
I don’t know how you felt about the President’s address and those of the men and women gathered around him yesterday in the White House rose garden. But I found great comfort in what I heard. We’re still facing an unprecedented national emergency, but I felt the tension leave my shoulders and my spirit calm a little as we were assured that a plan had been devised. And I found great comfort in the fact that our government was linking arms with businesses and organizations in the private sector to ensure that measures are effective, timely and thorough.
…we need a calming influence
In crisis situations we obviously crave a calming influence. But we also long for a steadying hand, a voice of reason or a simple assurance during the ups and downs of daily life. Our hearts need to know that we’re going to be okay even if the world around us is seemingly crumbling before our eyes.
I remember many times hearing one of my children simply ask me or their dad, “Is everything going to be okay?” Maybe they didn’t use those exact words – although many times they did. But at the root of their frustration or fear or fragile emotions, I knew they simply wanted to be reassured that all was well.
Over time I learned some important words that I would use in an effort to calm their hearts. I would simply tell them, “I don’t really know if it’s going to be okay. But I do know that you are going to be okay.” I’ve learned through the years that we have no guarantee about our circumstances. But we absolutely have a God who hold us in His loving hands and assures us that He will always be with us. We can be okay even if everything around us crumbles.
I don’t really know if it’s going to be okay. But I do know that you are going to be okay.”
the beauty of a calming influence
Have you know women who have brought a measure of calm to your world when things seemed to be crumbling or changing rapidly? Maybe your mom or a grandmother? Maybe a mentor or teacher? Or maybe just a friend or neighbor?
When I think of those women who have provided a sense of calm amidst the storm, I recall how they have sometimes given me:
- renewed hope
- a better perspective
- solid truth to steady my tumultuous emotions
- reminders of past victories over equally hard situations
- a gentle touch
- momentum to press on
- accurate information instead of speculations
- a pared down and doable plan of action
A woman who provides a calming influence doesn’t have to solve the puzzle or end the crisis. She simply lights a little candle and places it in the center of the situation so that the space that once seemed dark and unmanageable and scary now seems a little brighter. And in doing so, she helps us breathe a little easier, pick up where we left off and move forward.
how to be a calming influence
Honestly, this is not my forte. I find myself a little more prone to growing anxious over things recently. I think I’ve encountered some major blows in recent years that have caused me be hyper aware of the fragility of life. That’s no excuse, but it’s where I am these days.
Still, my prayer and desire is to be a woman who does indeed provide a calming influence for my family, my friends, my readers and even the strangers I encounter in daily life. And right now we all have the opportunity to either add to the mayhem as we grope in the darkness or…light that simple, small candle that can provide a little hope, a little perspective.
So how can you and I steady ourselves so that we can calm others?
Here are some steps I’m reminded to take so that I can hopefully provide some calm rather than stir the pot;
- Take time to worship – While many church worship services are cancelled for a while (ours included), I think it’s important that we take time to worship God this Sunday, but also daily. When David encountered crisis, he gained perspective and renewed hope by worshiping God. As we magnify God through worship, the problems around us shrink in comparison.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”~ Psalm 73:16-17
- Seek daily wisdom – While I’m a firm believer in a daily quiet time with God in His Word, times like this require we commit even more to this practice. In fact, I think it’s wise to balance out all the other things we’re reading and hearing with an ample dose of truth and perspective from the Bible.
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”~ Psalm 1:2-3
- Speak truth, not speculation – It is so easy to join the chorus of hearsay during confusing days like these. But when we pass on information with qualifiers like, “I heard…” or “they’re saying…” or “someone told me…” we only add to the mayhem and generate more anxiety. Instead, let’s be women who determine to get the facts, go to the source, quote correctly and refuse to pass on hearsay.
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.”~ Zechariah 8:16
- Carry on – When I’m flying and the plane experiences turbulence, I tend to take my cues from the flight attendants. If they’re “carrying on” with their regular duties, I “carry on” reading my book and munching my pretzels. Putting one foot in front of the other and simply doing the “next thing” actually centers our own minds and hearts, but it also gives calm to those around us.
- Keep a clear head – Let’s remember what really is different about our present circumstances and what is not actually changed. We can still get out and walk the dog, go for a hike, ride a bike or work in the garden. We can grill in our backyard, clean out the gutters, go for a drive through the country or have a picnic on a blanket. I find that getting out and about clears my head and helps me keep things in perspective.
- Practice calm – Sometimes to experience calm we need to practice calm. Light a candle ( a literal candle, this time!), turn on some calming music, brew a cup of tea, bake bread or read a calming book (I like Jan Karon’s Mitford series for this).
I think if we’ll practice a little healthy, biblical self-care with the steps above, we’ll naturally (or supernaturally) be prepared to light that little candle for those around us. Instead of adding fuel to the fire of distress, our behavior, demeanor and words will cast a calming glow on the situation and encourage others to be less anxious, too.
These are just a few of my ideas for how to be an agent of calm amidst the current crisis. Do you have other ideas you’d like to add to my list?
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.
Update: I’ve closed comments to this post. Obviously, the point of the post was not only to encourage calm, but to be a reassuring word in the midst of uncertainty. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few comments come up for approval that have been political and a bit disrespectful. I’m not trying to censor. But I do want to protect this space. Feel free to email me if you would like to address me personally. I’ll gladly take any comments and respond to them respectfully through an email, as I’ve already done in a few cases. Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate each of you.