by Mary Ellen Tippin
We are living in very uncertain times; they are uncertain for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren as well as just about everyone else on earth right now.
How are you handling this strange time? If you are like so many in our world, you’re feeling the slow creep of dread and fear well up in your gut and rob you of peace and the enjoyment of life.
These fears are not unfounded, I am afraid, and are often conveyed consciously and unconsciously to our families, including our precious grandchildren:
“Grandpa, why can’t we come and see you?”
“Grandma, will you ever be able to visit us again?”
“Papa, are you going to get the virus and die, too?”
“Nana, what if we run out of money? My daddy says he’s going to lose his job!”
Now if we are truly honest with ourselves, our fears didn’t start with this virus and won’t all disappear when things get back to normal. Fear is a part of every human’s experience, and how we respond—what we show our grandchildren in the face of fears—will determine some of their own reactions to all life throws their way.
And, perhaps facing our fears is a good thing if it causes a little needed introspection. Through this time we can fill our days with really good things.
For example, perhaps you have taken up some old hobby again or started a new one. I have read stories and sung songs with my grandchildren scattered far and wide via ZOOM. I have also started seriously writing on a story for my grandchildren that I’ve been intending to pursue for several years now but had been putting it off. I call friends and family I haven’t talked to in ages, and I visit many other acquaintances by way of Facebook. My cooking has improved and so have my puzzle skills. My husband and I are still on speaking terms and spring has arrived!
I suspect you have found similar ways to occupy yourself. And yet, some big questions and fears continue to lurk and linger…
There are definitely times in our lives for introspection and this may be one of them. In order for us to be a help and comfort to our families, it is useful to work through some of these issues ourselves. For me personally, my faith is the rock that anchors my thoughts and fears during this crisis or any other. Trusting in God isn’t a way out of problems, but rather a way of gaining perspective and help through the problems and perils we are confronted with daily.
Maybe you are like so many who once thought of yourself as having a relationship with God, but as the years have passed by, your faith has become less of a priority. Perhaps you stopped believing altogether.
If you’re one of those who feels a need for answers during this time of extreme stress but you don’t really know how to get “back on track,” let me suggest two books. Perhaps they could be of some assistance on your journey back to God and give you a foundation and purpose for life to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
The first book I would suggest is for someone who still believes, but has wondered away, so to speak. I’m referring to What On Earth Am I Here For by Rick Warren, a simple, how-to style book to help get life back on a spiritual track of faith and hope.
The other book is one I’m in the midst of reading at present, as I have several times before. This book is for the skeptic, the doubter, the person who has come to question whether they believe at all that there’s a personal God. I am referring to Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. If you have a skeptical personality like me, you will really enjoy the way Lewis addresses answers about life and God in an understandable yet deeply philosophical way.
Perhaps, along with the other ways you’re spending your newfound free time while social distancing and sheltering in place, you could read or listen to either of these books. For me, they offer answers, hope, encouragement, and purpose for the fears, the dangers, and the questions of life—answers to share with the next generations who will need them just as much as we do!
Mary Ellen Tippin is author of six children’s books. (Find out more at maryellentippin.com.) In addition to writing, she enjoys music, flowers, hosting people in her home, and influencing her ever-growing number of grandchildren. She and her husband, RJ, live near Newton, KS.