Our government has taught me an important lesson the past few weeks. I’m putting it to better use.
Beginning in February, we heard rumbles about a new coronavirus ripping across China. Soon we were told to wash our hands and stay home if we were sick (duh). Then new instructions started airing daily. Curtail travel, schools must close, work from home. Bars must close, and restaurants, and gyms. Every day, the national and state governments handed down new restrictions.
Usually, when disasters are on their way, updates come during regular news hours. If I don’t tune in for a couple of days, I don’t miss anything. With the coronavirus, however, I felt forced to listen to the latest press releases daily, and at times hourly, or else I’d miss some new order.
At first, the measures seemed extreme, even ridiculous, but we cooperated. We got used to new restrictions with our morning coffee. If the president and governors had given them all at once, we’d have revolted. With a constant diet of lifestyle limitations, though, acceptance and obedience came easier. One would need to see the future, but based on Italy, our cooperation has been for our own and our neighbors’ good.
Exposure to constant scary news has not been mentally healthy. The more frequently and longer I listened to news reports, the more wound up I became. I felt like a sickness-tsunami was going to hit, and most of us were going to die. The dire information dominated my thinking, emotions and actions. Has this been true for you also?
On pondering the situation, I realized the extent news and commentary has influenced me, and I chose to apply that lesson differently. Instead of listening to escalating news, I decided to fill my mind with God’s Good News from His word. I listen to scripture through a Bible app and pray with the the Pray As You Go app. I read the Bible, and moment by moment, when I’m mindful, I observe the world with an eye to spiritual application. I’m aware of the dangers and am taking precautions, but I’m no longer catastrophizing.
As a result, I noticed opening irises and neighbors walking their dogs. I relaxed and talked with my spouse about things besides COVID-19. Out of sight—-less in the mind prevailed. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” is better to fill my thoughts than ramping up the situation by staying glued to the radio.
I urge you to give this a try. Choose to feed your mind more scripture than news everyday. The Psalms or the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) are great places to start. You’ll get used to this diet and see that it is tasty. The more you fill your mind with God’s messages throughout the day, the more it will influence your thoughts and emotions for the better. Learn from the government and imbibe on this kind of news daily. Perhaps your blood pressure will go down and that tension headache will leave you. You just might notice the flowers again and stop to smell.