Panic. I glance at my phone again. Only moments have passed, but worry makes it feel like an eternity. Another case. The death toll goes up. There aren’t enough masks. The spread is inevitable. It is the coronavirus; covid-19.
I tend to catastrophize, so I’ve had to take a lot of deep breaths this week and remind myself that my family has survived zika, swine flu, ebola, and all the rest. Its been a challenge to turn off my phone, focus on doing productive things to prepare my family for the worst, and remember that it probably won’t be as bad as I think it’s going to be.
Part of how I cope with anxiety is reading and learning. I feel like the more I know about a threat the better I will be able to handle it. This coping strategy can be helpful, but at some point you have to admit that there isn’t enough knowledge in the universe to quell the fiery furnace of anxiety. The newest news article or podcast isn’t going to give you the magic cure to your fear. As I’ve studied viruses, I’ve pondered on the modern idea of something “going viral.” Viruses, with their ability to replicate and spread exponentially are the perfect metaphor for the spread of information, media, and ideas online. Viruses are not only bad and dangerous, there are good viruses too. Virologists study ways we can use our knowledge of viruses to actually create and distribute helpful viruses.
The doctrines and principles that the Savior taught were and are viral in the way they spread and continue to take hold in the hearts and minds of those who find Him and are changed by Him. Faith in Him is contagious in the best way. Embracing the compassion and empathy that He embodied makes each disciple a better human being; a more contributing member of the human family.
There is something really special that is happening in my ward family. Maybe even something viral. Today was fast and testimony meeting. People were sharing their struggles and their stories. We had a really good lesson in Sunday school. It was amazing to feel the spirit so strongly with others as we testified of the atoning power of the Savior. The Bishop made a comment about how everyone, no matter who they are, or what they have done can repent and be saved. The energy in that room was so palpable as we expanded on that idea. I talked about how having a mental disorder, ADHD, I spent so much of my childhood listening to adults tell me to find my stuff and complete my work and that the shame of who I was was so overwhelming. I said that I prayed that God would take that away and make me like everyone else that seemed to get it. I thought that was healing. He has taught me over the years that he will never take away who I am and what makes me unique. He only tells me that I’m enough, with him. That together, he can make me an instrument. That I can do what he needs me to do.
That resonated with a brother who confided his story to me after church. First he said, “Thank you for your willingness to share your vulnerabilities. In the church, I wish we would talk less about our successes and more about our failures. That is what we need to hear. We need to hear about our vulnerabilities.” I was so surprised to hear that from a man. Especially a man who looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties. You never know who your story will impact. I wrote the things he told me in my personal journal, but since he shared only with me, I will not share the details with you. I will say, his story was incredible and inspiring. I feel a strong bond of brotherhood with this man that I would never have if I had not shared my story.
The power of story is incalculable. God gave his only Son so that we could come here and make our stories. Triumph, despair, success, failure, friendship, betrayal, emnity, and resolution. Our stories are sacred. Our experiences are bought with an eternal sacrifice. How and whom we share our stories with is our choice, but we have been given a light. Doesn’t it deserve to shine on a candlestick that all might benefit from what it reveals? I think so.
I choose to share my story. I hope you will share your story. You never know who needs to hear it. I feel strongly that the virus is a metaphor for our time. We can make vulnerability go viral. We can share our burdens with others. We can support and strengthen the meek with the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. His light and his eternal power can sustain us through this troubled time. All those who will own him Lord, who will put aside pride and the vanity of the world, can come together in humility and true imitation of the greatest man who ever lived. He can bring us unity and peace. He can heal the trauma of our past and empower us to help others heal as well. There is no other path that will lead to peace and happiness.
Let’s make our testimony of the Savior go viral! How has he blessed your life? Tell three to five people and tell them to tell their story to three to five people. If we do it, we can make a covid-19 spread of hope and salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the life. If any man believe in Him, though he were dead, yet shall he live! He was meek and lowly in heart. He was despised and rejected of men. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet though Him, the world can be redeemed! Share the good news! Let’s make it go viral.