In some ways, this pandemic reminds me of the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. He was taken to Egypt, a place far from his home. Everything was foreign: the people, the land, the language, the customs. Life during a pandemic kinda feels foreign too.
He, the favored and youngest son of his father Jacob, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, who mischeviously told their father that he had been ravaged by wild beasts. He used to be a treasured son and now he was a lowly servant. I feel like I used to see the world like a treasured son, but now I’m seeing it through a different perspective.
While Joseph was enslaved, he must have been muddled with fears. Was there any hope for the future? Would things ever be the same again? Life was upside down for him, and it feels upside down for us right now.
In many ways, doesn’t this season resemble Joseph’s life? Like we’re living in an upside down foreign world where businesses never flip around their “closed” sign, schools aren’t brimming with children, intimate friends maintain a distance of at least six feet between them, and hospitals are the most vibrant place in the world right now.
Like Joseph, don’t we feel enslaved to fear, burdened by media, and curious about the future? “What if…” courses through our mind like a kayak over river rapids. The news and media outlets feed our brain more facts and statistics that we can grapple. The oddity of a once-certain future makes us marvel at the peculiarity of this pandemic.
How did life manage to go from “treasured son” to “lowly servant” in a matter of weeks?
The Covid-19 virus. That’s how.
But thankfully the story of Joseph bears a happy ending—he eventually became second to none other than Pharaoh himself.
May our story mirror Josephs, that we can rise through the struggles and take hope that life will return to normal again.
In the meantime, how can you gain a sense of control in the midst of this pandemic? Let’s take the same approach as Joseph.
Know the facts.
Joseph knew exactly what was happening when his brothers were selling him into slavery, and we should also be aware of the current state of the world. You can control what you watch, see, hear, and consume.
Take a few minutes everyday to watch or read the news about the pandemic. Be sure to follow a credible source, such as the CDC or a global news channel like BBC. If your mind gets sucked into the information, set a timer to limit your exposure to the news. Thirty minutes should be plenty of time.
Acknowledge your fears.
If you were Joseph, would you have been scared? I sure would have! There’s no doubt that he was fearful, ruminating over those dreadful “What if…” scenarios the way an arthritic continually rubs a painful joint.
So allow yourself to acknowledge your fears. You have control over your own mind, so take power by declaring what you fear. Think about what you don’t want to lose, consider what will be different about your life post-pandemic, wonder how you will cope with death in your community.
Express your fears.
Here’s one more way you can take control: acknowledge your fears but do not be consumed by them. Write them in a journal, express them through art, push them out through physical exercise, express them in prayer, or pour out your words to a trusted friend. Your fears will harness control if left in your head, just like a wild horse running through a field. So gain authority by expressing your fears, as if you’re putting a saddle on that wild horse.
Unfortunately our example of Joseph is a poor one for this point. As far as we can tell, he kept those fears swirling through his mind like a twister ravaging through cornfields. What was the result? Like a twister, the fears grew in power. He named his first son Manasseh, meaning “God has made me forget entirely my troubles and my father’s house.” Do you think he forgot his fears and troubles every time he called his son? Nope. Let’s not be like Joseph; let’s express our fears.
Take care of yourself.
You may not be a certified doctor or a qualified nurse (although we deeply thank you if you are a medical professional!), but you can take care of yourself. Joseph was a trustworthy man of character, honesty, integrity, and hard work.
Likewise, you can maintain who you are. Do you love to exercise every morning? Keep doing that. Do you enjoy cooking fun meals on the weekends? Why stop now. Are you used to having a small group meeting every Wednesday night? Meet online!
Joseph had to adjust to a new normal, and so do we right now. But we can hold onto our daily rhythms. Have a set bedtime and waketime. Drink plenty of water (and coffee if you need to keep up with your kids). Eat enough vegetables and fruit—those aren’t in short supply in the grocery stores. Stay active. Engage with your family and friends.
And hey, why not establish new patterns too! Family movie night, top chef in the kitchen, read a new book, etc.
Hold onto hope.
Joseph never gave up, even though he had no earthly idea what his future held. Who would have thought that a lowly servant would rise to become second to the Pharaoh? And who knows what will become of you during this pandemic season. Will you become a published author? Start up an entrepreneurial side venture? Deepen friendships with your neighbors? Discover a new passion or skill? The sky’s the limit!
Take control of what you can, and set aside what you can’t.
A pandemic makes for an odd season that will go down in history. Soon this will be included in school textbooks, and even movies will center around these moments.
Many things are swiped out of our control, like erasing marks off a dry erase board. Take control of the things in your power, like the media you consume, your daily rhythms, your body, and your relationships. But allow the mega things outside of your control to remain there. Like Joseph, we can thrive in the midst of uncertainty.
Is the uncertainty too heavy of a burden to bear? Allow us to share the load. We can help you gain control of your life while balancing the weight of things outside of your realm of influence. Call us today so we can carry the weight with you.
Teen Social Anxiety