As you know, we find ourselves at a time and place that is unprecedented in our generation. Floridians have grown accustomed to the frenzy of the grocery in preparation of a hurricane, but the Coronavirus is a different, more trying challenge. Storms are over quickly, and we can move on with our lives. Both impacts us physically and emotionally, but the difference is the longevity of the impact. The longer we experience the physical and emotional stress, the more challenging our relationships become. As pressure mounts, our emotions begin to leak verbal and sometimes toxic behavioral flares. Yesterday I had a conversation with a young, highly-educated, financially-successful couple about the economic impact they were experiencing. About three months ago he invested in a start-up company, and within three days, he was watching his portfolio plummet, questioning whether this would recover in three months or three years. Another couple was sharing the stress and strain of the children being home from school, the lack of everyday conveniences and necessities such as fully stocked grocery stores, our loss of freedom, and limited access to things such as our beaches, parks, churches and restaurants. Times like these squeeze us emotionally, and we express a range of emotions between a sweet aroma to a decaying trash can. How do we manage our stress, fear and fatigue?
Trust in God
First and foremost, as believers, our hope and trust are in God. We go to Him in prayer and make our request know to him. He knew there would be days we would be anxious, so He addressed it. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6). For the unbeliever, their hope and trust are in their ability to manage and devise a plan. Their fallen humanity limits their wisdom; what a tremendous weight to shoulder alone. As believers, we can offer the unbeliever hope through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our hope and trust are in our creator, the King of Kings, and the lover of our souls. We have access to God’s wisdom. The Scripture is full of hope, Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Deal with stress in healthy ways
Secondly, we must become more self-aware of how and where we go to alleviate stress. Typically pain pursues pleasure, and very often, we choose pleasure that is sinful and harmful to those we share life with.
- Pornography: To date, almost 20 percent of the world’s population is on some form of lockdown, opening the door to excessive amounts of time online. Pornhub announced that as of March 17, Italy saw a 30 percent increase in porn viewing. Spain saw a 61.3 percent increase in user engagement; France saw a 38.2 percent increase. PornHub also tracked which states had the highest number of searches for Coronavirus related porn on the site and found that New York and Washington — some of the states hit hardest by the virus — were No. 2 and No.3 on the list. Washington D.C. topped the list with a 33 percent increase. According to PornHub’s data, New York has seen a 24 percent increase in coronavirus-related porn searches on the PornHub from February 24 to March 17 and Washington saw a 22 percent increase.
- Domestic Violence: China is reporting an outbreak of domestic violence, citing that people are spending more time indoors together, thus causing a spike in domestic violence in China. According to the BBC, the hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic has been used more than 3,000 times on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, and calls to women’s rights organizations have tripled. Feng Yuan, the director of Beijing-based women’s rights nonprofit Weiping, said her organization had received three times as many inquiries from victims than they did before quarantines were in place.
- Divorce: Large numbers of couples across China are filing for divorce after spending weeks at home together during self-isolation. Per the Global Times, the city of Xi’an has seen a record-high number of divorce requests since the local marriage registries reopened on March 1. In some districts, the numbers were so high that regional offices say it will take until the end of March to process the backlog. The Chinese internet says the news makes perfect sense, meaning that marriages were prone to fall apart when couples had to deal with a string of hardships caused by the Coronavirus, including significant interruptions to their routines, economic stresses, and increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Adapt to a new normal
Lastly, as we embark on this new journey, we have to adapt to our new normal rather than be paralyzed by it. I’m often reminded that God uses challenges to move us forward. Rather than avoiding complicated relationships and topics, we now have time to consider and implement effective strategies to overcome and address them. The Scriptures are direct in telling us to stand guard over our thoughts and behavior.
Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV), states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
So How Do We Do That?
Now is the time to seek out a prayer partner, an accountability partner as well as, a support group if you’re struggling with harmful behavior. Now is the time to attend a relationship education class that addresses conflict resolution and loving well. The challenge is, how do we do that while social distancing and sheltering at home? We have to do things differently.
Like your relationships, Live the Life South Florida also has to consider how we continue to serve marriages and families in today’s context. Moving forward, our Adventures in Marriage class will be offered online. We’ve developed an app for ease of access and registration for online courses, donations and information. Text LTLSF to 555888, and you’ll receive a link. We’ll also begin offering tele-coaching. The first session is complimentary. Again, text LTLSF to 555888 for information and registration. We will launch a weekly podcast discussing topics that impact our relationships. In the next few days, we’ll post on social media platforms and send emails with instructional videos and podcasts addressing the current challenges and how to manage them relationally.
Eddie Copeland, Executive Director of Church United, said it very well. “The early church seized Roman roads. The protestant church seized the printing press. We will seize digital innovation. This will turn out for the good of God’s people. It’s guaranteed.”
If you have questions or would like more information, please send me an email to [email protected]
Believing Romans 8:28,
Lisa and the LTLSF team
As an expression of our love and commitment to you and your family during the COVID-19 crisis, Live the Live South Florida, in partnership with Church United, is offering our Adventures in Marriage workshop live and online FREE to all couples and churches in the tri-county area.
This online workshop is devoted to challenging, strengthening, and encouraging you and your spouse to deepen your love for one another. Discover new ways to meet one another’s needs, communicate, resolve conflicts, and understand how your personality will impact your relationship for better or worse. With the gospel as our source of hope, we will find encouragement from the resources of Christ to strengthen our relationships. See the details below and click the following link to register for FREE – REGISTER