This is an exceptional time in history. The COVID-19 virus has entire countries paralyzed, borders shut, flights cancelled, businesses closed, people confined to their homes. I spoke with a friend from Germany this morning and he told me 650 people died in their neighboring country, Italy, just yesterday. I don’t know how many usually die in Italy each day. But just hearing a statement like that along with all the other 24-7 “breaking news” bulletins about the Coronavirus outbreak, spreads the most contagious virus of all—fear. Fear brings worry. And worry is like a plague to our body. It attacks our mind, then our heart, and over time, it can consume our overall health. Continuous worry leads to a state of anxiety, where you rarely have periods of the day when you aren’t worried. A lot of people in our world, our community, our families—are worried right now.
One of my long-time mentors, Dr. John C. Maxwell, said it so well. “The Pessimist complains about the wind. The Optimist expects it to change. The Leader adjusts the sails.” You may not see yourself as a leader. Your title may not be boss, supervisor, owner, president, pastor, doctor, sergeant, chief or CEO. But anyone who influences anyone else is a leader. Teachers are leaders. Parents are leaders. Cops are leaders. Store clerks are leaders. Older siblings are leaders to the younger ones in the family. Leadership is influence. How are you doing at leading right now?
The wind is blowing. It may not be in the direction we would like it to be. Truthfully, it’s rather stormy in our world right now. We can complain. We can do nothing except hope maybe something will change soon. Or, we can adjust the sails. What does adjusting the sails look like for you in your situation? Here are four things that can help.
FLEXIBILITY – those who are willing to break out of their routines and habits will see the best results at a time like this. The old saying is, “those who are flexible won’t get bent out of shape.” The sails on a boat are not fixed and rigid for a reason. They are meant to be adjusted to maximize the performance of the sailboat. Whether it’s dealing with the kids who are home from school for an indefinite period of time, a job that is now uncertain, closed beaches, a shortage of toilet paper, travel bans or who knows what, flexibility will definitely help.
FUN – Don’t forget to have fun during this season. There’s a time to be serious but laughter, exercise, and pleasurable activities release the “happiness” chemicals (Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin & Oxytocin) into our brains and bodies. For sure, stress will release plenty of cortisol and adrenaline into your body. This become a vicious cycle: your hormones cause anxiety, the anxiety causes more hormones to be released, and so on. Fun will counteract and offset the stress.
FORGIVENESS – Remember that being anxious, afraid, worried and stressed can create extra frustrations with others. Be patient. Be kind. Forgive frequently. Scripture reminds us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if an any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness also releases the happiness chemicals into your body.
FAITH – We are more than just physical and emotional beings. We are designed with a spiritual component of that is designed to link up with the Creator of the Universe. Trusting in God is key in reducing fear and worry. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) Apostle Paul wrote. He also added, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5b-7). As in any relationship, the closer we are to God, the more we are assured we can trust him. This pandemic didn’t catch God by surprise. What does He want you and me to learn from it? I think if we will ask and then listen, He will give us some answers.
So, how will you adjust your sails today? Next week? Who in your sphere of influence needs to see or hear your calm example in the middle of the storm they (and we) are in? What is one way you could be more flexible? Who needs to have some fun right now? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Are there any areas you need more faith and trust in God? What will you do first to build more faith and trust in God? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below. Blessings! ~Dennis