What a difference a few short weeks make. Their were rumors flying that we would not be able to leave South Africa on March 13, but we did with no incident. We then learned that they were going to close the South African border the following Wednesday, which I do not know that they did. What I do know is that South African Airways cancelled all international flights Friday, March 20. Our world, our nation, our state and our county have changed drastically, in a matter of days. I read an article from Swaziland, where nurses are protesting, causing patients to be turned away, due to a lack of protective equipment. This is a time in our world that took most by surprise, but thankfully, God knew it all. I just sat through a video conference where a dear pastor friend said, “You cannot plan for a crisis in the midst of a crisis.” I have said that about fires in your home forever. This one is different in that most of us have ever experienced anything like this ever before. Our government leaders are making the best possible decisions, based upon the information provided, to keep us safe. The common cold has mutated itself to COVID-19, making it an unseen enemy. I told my veteran friend that I take to medical appointments to do everything in his power to keep from getting this virus, since the outcome could be his death. This virus is dangerous and should not be taken lightly, but taking the proper precautions can/will prevent it from spreading, with social distancing being one of those precautions.
We do not know when things will return to normal. In fact, there may be a new normal when things get up and running again. We are blessed to live in this country. Can you imagine what would have happened if our economy was not strong when this began? Some people have responded in fear to this virus. Who would have ever thought that you would not be able to find common items in the grocery store? I heard a report from an engine company that had to go to a fire district over to find enough food for their meals at the fire station for that day. What in the world? We all need to settle down and figure things out. My travels have slowed quite a bit, but I do find myself still going out once or twice a day, but I am just as intentional about getting back home. Once I have gone out, my clothes go into the wash or into the dirty clothes. This was really no different from the decontamination procedures that I took after going to a fire or medical call. I have even decided to shower, both morning and evening, based upon my going and coming.
How are you dealing with the stress that these changes have brought about? Believe it or not, I am trained in Stress First Aid. This is a tool designed to help in the assessment of public safety personnel and provide help to them. Stress can come from an acute or one-time event, but it can also build up over a long period of time, from the most mundane of things. The point is to be able to recognize stress in yourself and others. Three simple suggestions to deal with stress are:
- Breathing exercises
- Eating properly
- Getting enough sleep
Stress can lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual illness. It is important, once again, to realize that you are being affected by stress and do what is necessary to deal with that stress. Talking to one another is a key piece of this. It is one thing to be around others, but social distancing prevents that on the large scale. You should realize that your family will be the first ones to notice a change in you. The question is, will you be brave enough to act upon what you are told?
Again, none of us know how long this will go on. Some people have to go to work every day, keeping critical services running, and providing much needed supplies. We must be praying for those who are standing in the gap for all of us. We are all in this together, and you are not alone! In the Book of Acts, the newly birthed church said that they had everything in common, sharing with one another. There may come a day that I may need to borrow a roll of toilet paper. This virus will pass, in one way or another. It may be something else that we need to be vaccinated against. The crazy thing is that many people choose not to receive any vaccination because people put out information about the vaccine’s percentage of effectiveness versus ineffectiveness. I have taken the flu vaccine for my entire adult life and have not gotten the flu since doing so. Some would say that I probably was not exposed to it. Hogwash! I carried some really sick people to the hospital over the years. I have laid hands on and prayed over sick people. If we could see the coronavirus, then that would be one thing, but we cannot. Good, intentional cleaning, and self-care precautions are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu, or any other virus. Take care of yourself and your family as we walk through all of this.