There’s nothing like a global pandemic to expose your nerves, heighten emotions and unearth the best (and the worst) in all of us.
If you’d asked me a year ago what I thought I’d be struggling with most during this unprecedented time in the world I’d probably think fear or anxiety. I tend to worry, play out worst-case scenarios in my head about my kids, my family and often myself. But that hasn’t been my reality. For whatever reason anxiety has been kept at bay, but something else has reared its ugly head.
I’ve become quarent-angry. (See what I did there?)
I might be a worrier, but I’m not a hater. I don’t pick fights, and in fact I’d just about rather shrivel up and die than be part of significant conflict. I’m sure there are even times I should speak up that I don’t.
I find it pretty easy to forgive; once an offense has taken place, I don’t usually hold on for long. I’d much rather push forward in peace than hang on to a stinging, stabbing grudge.
But lately, emotions have been running high for us all, and I have become very passionate about my opinions on things. Passionate about the way others approach the quarantine. The way the news covers the current pandemic. The way people on both sides of the political aisle have misbehaved and misspoken.
It’s gotten so bad my husband and I joke about it; I’ll get on a rant about something-or-other, and just stop and say, “when did I become such a hater?” My husband used to call me Pollyanna. Now I think “The Grinch” would be more accurate.With emotions running high, it can be easy to assume the worst. To pass judgement without knowing the facts… It's easy to become a hater. Click To Tweet
I’ve taken some time to soul-search, and I feel like I’m catching myself sooner and sooner now, maybe even preventing some negative words from brimming over out of the overflow of my negative heart. But there’s an ocean of negativity that needs healing inside. I thought that sharing my battle with quarent-anger with you would be one way to move forward in that healing process, and in the meantime, maybe you need to hear it too!
3 Simple Exercises to Calm Your Nerves
So here are three simple exercises I’ve started going through when I sense myself drifting toward the dark side:
1.) Put Yourself In The Other Person’s Position
When I find myself getting angry with someone, I’ve started trying to imagine myself in their position. For example, one of my first experiences with quarent-anger came when I was in Costco, braving the world for food for my family and feeling like I was in some post-apocalyptic movie.
The store did a great job preparing everything for COVID-compliant procedures and there weren’t even that many people in the store. But as I began to cut through an aisle to get to the peanut butter, I saw an older couple coming toward me. The woman started hacking and coughing, wearing no mask and making no attempt to cover her cough. It wasn’t a one-time cough; this was a terrible, chronic cough that I heard long after I walked away. I bolted. And after that all I could think of was where else she had been and what she’d coughed on. I felt a Mama Bear anger welling up in me.
How dare she put my family at risk? Why didn’t she stay at home and leave her husband to shop? Why on earth wouldn’t she wear a mask or bandana, or at the very least cover her cough?!
Learning To See Past Myself…
It wasn’t until later that night that I started to wonder about that woman, to see her as a person. I still felt angry, and sort of half-thinking, half-praying asked God to help me see her with more wisdom and insight. Immediately a picture of my own mother came to mind. She passed away over a decade ago, suffering from dementia far too young.
What if this woman couldn’t be left at home? What if her husband’s only choice was to keep her with him, for fear she would wander off or endanger herself? I mean, what if, like my own father, it was all he could do to care for her and meet his own basic needs and there was no mental space (and maybe no budget) for a face mask? Maybe even if there had been one, she would have kept touching it or taking it off.
Whether she had dementia or not, I can put myself in this woman’s shoes (or her husband) and realize there might be things going on behind the scenes that I have no idea about. This has been the case several times when I’ve learned more about situations that at first raised hairs on the back of my neck!
2.) Use Your Negative Emotions As A Launchpad For Prayer
Another situation that stirred up my quarent-anger was when a local political leader made a decision I disapproved of.
I rarely get political, but the current crisis has driven all of us to take the decisions of leadership very personally – because our lives and economic well-being are at stake. It’s personal, and when we have no direct control, it can make us feel trapped and helpless. Throughout the day I felt myself stewing over this decision, until I felt a Holy Spirit nudge (maybe it was more like a swift kick in the pants…) that I needed to pray about it. I confessed my bad attitude and asked for help processing the issue.
Then, I started thinking about this leader and tried putting myself into his shoes, as I did with the coughing woman at Costco. I imagined what it must be like to be in his situation, with people on both sides of every single issue breathing down his neck.
Compassion vs Criticism
Journalists taking every word and spinning them into sensational headlines. My emotions weren’t the only ones running high, and if I as a Christian couldn’t put myself into his place and try to be compassionate and understanding, who would? This leader needed my prayers, not my criticism.
So I prayed for the leader. And I’ve had to stop and think and pray for lots of other people and leaders since then, but it not only helps my heart – God changes the world through our prayers! So I’ve started to let my negative emotions about others serve as a launchpad for prayer. It’s often the people who rub us the wrong way who need our prayers the most.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
3.) Love Like Jesus
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
It all boils down to love. Jesus loves the extreme left-wingers. He loves the extreme right-wingers. And every single person in-between. He loves the social media trolls, the ignorant fools who seem to enjoy stirring up anger in others just for fun. He loves the quarantine-shamer, as well as the person who endangers others by their reckless actions or disregard for safety guidelines. And most of all, He loves me. Despite all the bitterness inside – the sinful thoughts, words and actions that well up and cascade over the walls of my seriously flawed heart – He loves me.
Any time I start pointing fingers and withholding love or understanding from a fellow human, I need to realize that I’ve forgotten the most important truth of all: how much I myself am loved, and how much I have been forgiven. Like the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18, sometimes I walk around handing out judgement to others – against the backdrop of Jesus hanging on the cross, bleeding and suffering to pay my own debt.
A Prayer To Calm Your Nerves
Forgive me, Lord! Lift the veil from my blinded eyes. Help me to see minute-by-minute who you are and all you’ve done for me. Let my darkened heart be illuminated by your brilliance, that I’d have no choice but to reflect your love and mercy and grace on every single person I come into contact with. Help me to be salt and light in a tasteless, dark world. Help us as the Church individually and collectively to draw the world’s eyes to your glory, bringing healing to the hurting and pointing them to the only source of life! Plant powerful prayers in our hearts that would unleash kingdom power in our own lives, and literally change the world in these difficult times. In the powerful name of Jesus, amen.
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Do you struggle with quarent-anger like me? Maybe for you it’s something else. Whatever your struggles during this difficult time of isolation and change, let us know in the comments how we can be praying for you today!The Christian woman's guide to praying through the COVID-19 crisis Click To Tweet
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