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Power in a Pandemic
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;2 Timothy 1:7
but of power, and of love, and of
a sound mind."
Circumstances beyond our control tend to make us feel powerless, and it is fairly safe to say that most of the world has experienced this feeling to some degree over the last few months. Reactions have varied from docile to outrage. But as time wears on, it is apparent that the current situation also tests our underpinnings – what are we made of and in whom we trust. There is also the stark realization that we must question whether or not we are indeed powerless.
Having plans and purpose is a good thing. Knowing that our plans are subject to change is, perhaps, a necessary lesson for most of us. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." - Prov. 19:21. Now some may read this verse and think that there is no use in having a plan. To the contrary, it can actually be a wonderful reassurance that the purposes of God are being born out through our efforts, and that we cannot mess them up so badly that the end result is not His will. We know this is true because Prov. 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
Being on the move helps us see how to accomplish these plans. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we are instructed to stay in one place and not take action. There is a time for everything, Ecclesiastes reminds us. This passage is wonderfully weighted with action verbs, and contains the thought that even at rest you will be accomplishing something. G.K. Chesterton had this observation, "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." In response, you may ask, "What can I really do?"
Here are a few things you can consider each day:
- Prayer – The power of prayer lifts us up out of our own thoughts and into God's perspective on things. When we pray not only for ourselves, but for others, our focus shifts. We avoid self-pity and ungratefulness. We can be reminded of what God has done for us and what others do for us. Prayer is our first line of defense and should be our first reaction, be it silent or aloud. Take yourself, and things, to God. Pray the Psalms – all emotions can be found there.
- Personal Growth – For some, this may be a much needed break from the demands you normally deal with. Perhaps there is something that you've been setting aside that needs your attention, or a topic you need time to explore in order to be more productive. Taking this time out is still movement – it is just more internal than external. As long as we can look back at this time and see growth, it is not a waste at all.
- People – We are to be mindful of what we can do for others. What are your gifts? What things would you like to do that you may not have had time to before? Are there people you know who have a physically practical, spiritual, emotional or mental need? What an opportunity to encourage and stir one another to good works!
- Politics – The world goes on even in a pandemic, and perhaps especially in one. We, the people, need to be watching with care and concern over the trust that has been placed with us in a democratic system. We are responsible for who we elect and for holding our elected officials accountable for what they do while representing us. Do you know what is going on in your city, province and country? Let me assure you, much is afoot! If we don't have the time now to be informed, when will we ever?
- Pen to Paper – Whether it is writing to a politician or a friend, let's agree that action needs to be the result of thought. And there are so many critical pieces of legislation that need your urgent comment just waiting for your attention! Look at a few articles and you will see the value of encouraging/discouraging proposed or recently passed laws. There is something for everyone to care about! Click here to find links to locate your own City Councillor, the Premier, MLA (your provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly), MP (your federal Member of Parliament), the Alberta Minister of Education or the Prime Minister. Perhaps you would like to bookmark our 'How to Contact Your Politicians' page for quick reference. Let's challenge each other to 1 letter a week. Use form letters if you wish, just take some action!
Home educators have a unique advantage on the education side of things, as we were already staying at home with our children, though probably not so exclusively as we are now! Choosing to stay at home and home educate is a much different feeling than being told you must. Even now, there are those in our community who are chafing to be going on field trips, nature walks and music lessons – even to the dentist! But what a challenge it is to those who are suddenly forced into a distance learning situation.
May I suggest that home educators can have two unique ways of speaking into this situation that will help advance our interests in protecting home education:
- Supporting those who are struggling. Public school friends may reach out and need more support rather than instruction. We know that everyone's home education looks different and theirs will too. We have control over timing and material, while they do not, and that is a blessing and a challenge at the same time, as I'm sure they don't want to be coming up with lessons! Think of all the time you've invested in your choices and preparation that they had to skip. Giving them a confidence boost and maybe a few practical tips may be just what they need.
- Make the distinction between parent-directed home education and teacher-directed distance learning clear as kindly as you can. All the jokes that were shared at the beginning of this will eventually solidify into what people think home education is like. This is not home education, as you well know, and it couldn't be farther from true home education for those thrown into the deep end! We don't want those with an unhappy experience thinking that their angst in trying to do it, and their child's adjustment to learning at home, translates into a real perspective on what home education is like. That would be difficult to unseat, so we need to make a distinction about the home education advantage in talking about things that could be frustrating to them. Our children have adjusted and we like to be home together, which enhances our relationships and makes learning together a joy – most days!
Some are encouraging people to look at this as a 'hide away on the couch with the TV' time, and a season where nothing outside their own well-being should concern them. Well, there are going to be healthy and unhealthy effects as a result of the many stressors that affect people who are forced to shelter in place. These stressors touch our physical, mental, emotional, relational, spiritual, economic and potentially our educational 'health.' Be discerning, and let's not neglect the multi-faceted reality that is facing each one of us. We can remember, with thankfulness, that we have been given the armor we need to face each and every day.