I was looking at photos of my life a year ago. In some ways the images of primary children, MCO rehearsals, first day of school poses, and date nights at the restaurant seem like they are from another planet. A year ago, a sense of normal was only broken when I read news reports of a chaotic president and a tumultuous Democratic primary nomination process. I could set the news aside and imagine that the world was going to be okay. Now the anxiety I only had premonitions of a year ago, is a daily dystopian reality. Our nation is populated with socially distanced and masked people who radiate the fear and uncertainty of an unprecedented national disaster in which the only way America seems to be first, is in the number of infections and deaths from the awful virus that has stolen so much from us. The social, emotional, educational, and spiritual disruption that this virus has caused is impossible to comprehend at the moment. We will be studying the phenomenon for decades to come.
I have fallen into a slump recently as I try to endure a strange and difficult period of transition between summer break and the beginning of school. All of the anxiety and stress of the start of school, with few of the usual benefits has slowly dragged my emotional and physical health down. Headaches, low-grade fevers, muscle aches, and a cloud of despair has burdened my soul. Ben had to take a day off of work Friday as we processed through the difficult burdens we are under and planned how we will cope with challenges of the next few weeks.
If only there were fewer questions and more answers; more certainty and less fear; more trust and understanding, and less cynicism and hate. That is not the reality of this moment. It feels like the tremors of last year’s troubles have erupted into the volcanoes of today’s trials. Add to all that, the divisive rhetoric of campaign season, and we have a recipe for even more unrest and trouble in the future. The election in November is already being discredited by the president who sees a good chance that he might lose to Joe Biden who is doing a pretty good job of creating a coalition of moderate voters. Donald Trump has no intention of leaving office. He has lusted for the untethered power of tyrants abroad, he knows that without the protection of his office and the loyalists he has installed in the justice department under his control, he will at last face the consequences of his choices. That is something a narcissist can never allow to happen. One does not need prophetic ability to see the obvious. If he is reelected, he will continue corrupting the federal government to his benefit, thereby endangering everyone who has tried to prevent him thus far. If he is defeated by Joe Biden and refuses to accept the results of the election and leave office, he and his supporters are likely to revolt.
So, our current trials will likely pale in comparison to the catastrophic events that will take place at the end of the year. With the pandemic still raging, an election with uncertain results, an executive unwilling to cede power, and an electorate hopelessly divided and unable to trust those in authority, we will look back at August with fondness wishing we could go back to the sultry days of the summer when we could delude ourselves into thinking that this election would solve our problems. But perhaps it is my anxiety causing me to catastrophize. Best to stay in the here and now.
I’m still in counseling. Remote counseling which, like online school, is not nearly as effective, but I’m still profoundly thankful for the help I am getting. I’m managing my depression. I’m still trying to gain confidence and feel peace. I’m still loving and nurturing my boys and my dog. I’ve been developing my artistic skills. When I step back and look at the burdens I am carrying, I am doing remarkably well.
When storms of darkness and uncertainty swell around me, I can still feel the peace of my Savior. He is like the calm in the eye of the storm in which one can rest in spite of the dangers around. He is the assurance that there is a world beyond this one in which evil has no refuge and scheming men have no power. This world can exist, even if it is only in my heart and mind. The unseen Zion that exists only in the hope of humble followers of Christ is more real than we can possibly imagine. The faith, hope, and charity that work miracles in the lives of each disciple are not to be seen in the news reports of the day. Jesus Christ is not powerless. He lives, and we will see His hand revealed in time. We will someday know that in the darkness, He was working His design to take the horrors of Satan and the vilest evil and turn it to good.
His plan is a plan of happiness; but we only get there through a path of sorrow. We must know the suffering to savor the joy. The pride of the world is crumbling, and in its ruin, we will find the rock of our salvation. We will build again on that sure foundation. We will learn from the failures of the past as we begin again.