How to Stay Sane When Everyone Has an Opinion about Everything
Written By Mikaila Bisson, USA
“I don’t understand why you aren’t coming home. Where we live isn’t a hotspot anymore, and we’re taking all the right precautions, so you’ll be perfectly safe. Honestly, I’m worried about you.”
“Are you really going to drive north this weekend? You know there’s a stay-at-home order in place, right? I don’t care if your family thinks it’s okay; we have to keep everyone safe, so we flatten the curve.”
Stay home to stay safe. But can you, or can you not, visit your vacation home? What if it’s out of state? Will I have to let work know? How long will I have to quarantine for after? What about all the weddings that are still going to happen this summer? You can gather in groups of 10 or fewer, but make sure to stay home and stay safe and for goodness sake, wear a mask.
Scrolling through Facebook, I see friends post, “This leader with no agenda is an idiot for keeping the state locked down!” “What in the world is this (same) leader doing? They should extend the lockdown until this virus is squashed for good!” Unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow.
This bombardment of voices and opinions leaves me feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, and distressed. Everywhere I turn, there are people with differing opinions, and no one that knows what is best or right. Do I listen to the voices that want me to stay home, or defy state officials to see family and friends I haven’t seen in months? Do I listen to friends or family—both of whom want the best for me and my mental health? If I listen to officials, does that mean that I lose the respect of others? Should I dismiss my own opinions to please those around me?
How do we muddle through this time with confidence in ourselves and our decision making, and come out on the other side with our sanity and blessed peace intact? In the midst of this constant and ever-rolling string of questions, here are some anchors that I’ve used to help myself stay calm and steadfast in the Lord.
1. Draw Confidence
The many, many voices surrounding me seem to have one resounding message: no matter what decision I make, I am uneducated and unable to make a decision without disappointing someone. In major contrast, throughout the Bible, God consistently and assuredly tells me who He made me to be (and it’s not uneducated and incapable). Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds me, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
With this knowledge, and as I remember that I am created in Christ and given power (God’s words, not mine), I can be confident that no matter what decision I make, my identity in Him is sure. I can dispel the self-doubt that the world is serving, and tune into what God says about who He created me to be.
2. Exercise Capability
Sometimes I forget that part of who God made me to be is a smart, strong, independent person who is capable of making well-thought-out decisions. I’m often so focused on pleasing others in my life that it slips my mind that God made me just as capable and well-meaning as other people. He has blessed me with the ability to gather information, ask hard questions, and understand other people’s perspective to make the best decision I can with the information I have.
And even then, I can hold each decision loosely, as I continue to be guided by what God teaches me, and I can alter those decisions tomorrow, as I learn more.
3. Grasp Hope
As we think about our past isolation and look forward to leaving the house more often, it can be distressing—a time filled with fear and uncertainty. I like to recall how, in the Old Testament, Noah and his family were remembered by God (Genesis 8:1), and He saved them from the perils of the flood. They were isolated in an ark and quite literally the last people on earth. But when the dove returned with an olive leaf, it was a sign that their days in the ark would end soon—that God had preserved them through the flood.
God sees us too—and He will preserve us through this pandemic. We can be reminded of that hope as we walk in nature alongside our loved ones, and as we work from home in our own makeshift coop; we can see God’s handiwork in our day-to-day lives and remember that He’s been with us in the past and will be there with us in the future. That He is present in the hope we feel amidst the desperation. These small glimpses of God’s nearness to us can give us peace and assurance about the future.
Even though these anchors have been a help to me, there is always the looming fear that those around me won’t respect my decisions, or that certain decisions will put my friendships on rocky ground. However, as the peace I crave lives in me through these helpful reminders from God, it helps me to engage gracefully in these difficult conversations, even with people who have opposing views.
There will always be something in the world—racial or physical hatred, climate change, etc.—that will offer many voices we’ll have to muddle through. So as we sort through them, let’s remember our worth, ability, and most importantly—the hope, promises, and peace of the God that gave them to us.
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