This week was one of new realities, realities I could never have imagined were even possible. These new realities came as a shock, not just for me or the nation, but for the entire world. The spread of the coronavirus has become a steady source of news—everyone is affected and there is no way to escape it. I tried really hard to avoid it but this past week I had to give in and accept the harsh truth. My birthday was this past Thursday and I had great plans for it. To be honest, they did not seem like such great plans before they were taken away from me. My parents were going to visit me and then over the weekend, we were going to explore Providence, Rhode Island, a place I had never been before. A few days before they were due to arrive, my parents had to cancel their trip due to the escalating threat of this worldwide virus. My disappointment when they told me of their decision went far deeper than I expected. I was not surprised by it and would be lying if I claimed I didn’t see it coming. Every event and all “unnecessary” travel is being cancelled or postponed; this virus has effectively put life as we know it on hold.
Never in my life have I been in similar circumstances. It is this great state of unknown that causes the most struggle. The closest experience in my past is when I was first diagnosed with Type I diabetes. I knew nothing about the condition–all I knew is that it could lead to death if untreated. In this way, the coronavirus resembles diabetes. Most people do not know much about it, only the negative outcomes it can have, especially when hearing the increasing death toll. When my parents cancelled their trip to visit me, all the fearful feelings I had before I was diagnosed with diabetes came flooding back. During the months I was dealing with diabetes and unaware of what was going on, my body was shutting down. Even though I was not consciously thinking I was dying, my body was headed for ketoacidosis, which results in death. I truly believe my body was preparing to die. My parents visited me at college during that period and I would cry for days after they left. It may be normal to miss your parents, but not to cry for so long and with such wrenching sobs as I did. On some level, it was as if I believed it would be the last time I would see my parents. When my parents cancelled their trip to visit me on my birthday this year, the inner fear of never seeing them again emerged in me, not because I was dying but because of all the great unknowns this world is facing. Within one week, the coronavirus has turned the world upside down.
This was definitely the worst birthday I ever had. There were difficult ones in the past, but I’ve always been able to hug someone or have someone who could celebrate with me. This was the first birthday of my life where no one hugged me. This may sound trivial, and to some extent it may be, but it proves a key truth that we cannot forget amid all the craziness of the current situation. Humans were not made to be alone. God created us to be in community with each other; we are meant to be members of His family. At first I was angry with the government for taking away my ability to go to church, my ability to see friends and family, or just to be around other people in a store or coffee shop, but I realized the government is not the enemy. It is doing its best to protect us from an unfamiliar enemy. Although it may seem that the virus is the enemy, it is not–the enemy is and has always been Satan. In less than a month, he has inflicted terror, fear and horror on our world. Based on this past week, I would have probably conceded and admit he had succeeded in bringing us to our knees. But he has not! Through the power of Jesus Christ, Satan can never win. I praise God for allowing some true blessings through all this tribulation. I have been able to take Zumba classes with friends back in Colorado because the instructors are holding virtual classes. I have been walking outside more because all retail establishments are closed. My walks have brought me closer to the Lord; I can appreciate his beautiful creation walking with Him, side by side. Most important of all, I have reached out to friends I haven’t spoken to for a long time. We are all feeling alone in different and yet similar ways, all craving connection. We may be unable to be together the way we used to be, but we can adapt. In God and through God, we will survive this current state of unknowing and will be stronger for it. It is crucial to remember that we are never ever alone. In times of true isolation, we can hear the Lord’s voice most clearly and without worldly interference.