For this blog, I was asked a simple prompt: We’ve found ourselves still living in the midst of a global pandemic. Death tolls rise and restrictions remain. And yet, God, too, is steadfast. What is God revealing to you so you know He is Trustworthy, Beautiful, and Good?
Immediately my mind went to the highlights of the summer: The wind in my hair as I rode on a speedboat, the kids finally seeing their grandparents after quarantine, the one day my two year old actually used the potty and I thought I was seeing the end of almost a decade of diapers (spoiler: I wasn’t). These were moments that filled me with joy, and absolutely God was in every one of them. However, where I really see the proof of His presence is when I feel a joy that stems from… nothing.
Let me explain. During the slog of spring quarantine I remember telling my mom that I seemed to be on a “three days on, one day off” schedule. That is, I typically had a run of three “I got this” days, tackling the home schooling, the extra cleaning, cooking and stress with relative grace. Then came day four and it was bad news bears—I’d feel overwhelmed, crabby, lonely, you name it. My mom said she noticed the same in herself and we had a good laugh about the predictability of our mood swings and how our husbands should mark their calendars for the Day Four Meltdowns. While we spent much more time discussing the nuances of the bad days, I got to thinking about the wonder of those good ones. How I would sometimes go to bed feeling as though I just could not handle this, and wake up with a completely new outlook. Nothing in the world had changed, my circumstances were the same and the news was just as frustrating and terrifying as the day before, but something in me just felt more capable, hopeful and joyful.
And that’s it. That transformation from bad mood to positivity are the moments where God has proven His goodness and trustworthiness to me. That ability to find joy when the day before you could find none, the potential to suddenly see the good side in a bad situation, that is where God resides. An unfounded good mood is God’s beautiful gift to us and we should recognize it as such.
Our friend St. Paul is a wonderful example of a man who recognized and drew on this gift of joy regardless of hardship. Take Philippians 4:11-13: “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul experienced imprisonment, beatings, being stoned, isolation and more. But through it all, his writings transmit a feeling of joy, contentment and peace.
I’ll admit that I am not yet at his level. Facing what he faced, or for that matter, what Jesus faced, it’s hard to imagine a good mood shift taking place quickly. And I will acknowledge that I am lucky to have experienced a 3:1 ratio of happy to sad days during quarantine. I do know the beast of depression and anxiety, of experiencing more of a thirty-days-off, one-day-on type of schedule. But I know this as well: with a combination of prayer, love, faith and time, God will help those brain chemicals to shift, so that one day you will wake up ready to face the day, even when the day seemed so lousy just yesterday.
So bring on the pandemic, the riots, the economic turmoil, the hurricanes and fires. God will be there at the moment you think you can’t handle anymore, adjusting your attitude, inducing a calmness that seems completely out of place given the circumstances. That is His good mood gift and proof of His goodness and love for us.
Painting note: This is a rather serious-looking self portrait I made after quarantine. In it I’ve highlighted the limbic system in the brain, which is your emotion-control center. I like to imagine God right there, pulling the strings on that limbic system, creating more happy hormones that put the peace right there in my brain, body and heart.