One thing I personally have found difficult to handle during this global pandemic is how to process and respond to the over-abundance of information that is circulating. Here in Thailand we’ve been eagerly awaiting news that the country would once again be open to tourists and that travel for ALL of us would return to “normal” and not be impeded by mandatory regulations. It’s important for multiple reasons that this happen, especially economic ones. But we’ve been ping-ponging back and forth for a long time now… hopes raised, then dashed, then raised again.
It’s wearying. And, in all honesty, can be downright depressing.
I found myself in a bit of a funk last week. A contributing factor was facing my fears at the dental office, but my emotions spiraled downward as I focused on the latest updates on social media: will we reopen or not — and WHEN? how are COVID cases in the expat/foreign community affecting folks we know? how are friends coping who are home quarantining because their daughter was exposed at school?
I also found myself focusing on other hard news: thinking of dear friends as the husband had a heart valve replaced; waiting with others for the results of a bone scan; learning that the 27 year old daughter of other friends had died from preeclampsia three weeks after giving birth to their first child. Add to that concern for our daughter as she was traveling to a heavily COVID-infected part of Romania and not hearing anything from our son for several weeks…
Some of what was influencing me was real. But a lot was conjecture… wondering about all the what if’s that could happen…
Wondering about all the what if’s, all the things that might happen is, unfortunately, magnified by rumor. And rumors definitely fueled my being in a funk.
a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts; hearsaysource: Dictionary.com (app)
My Bible reading last week was in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was tasked with the job of rebuilding the city wall of Jerusalem back in 445 BC. Not everyone was in favor of what he was doing, and one way his opponents sought to derail this undertaking was to circulate rumors. When Nehemiah learned of this, he responded,
Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head. (NIV)
No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind. (ESV)
There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing. (NLT)Nehemiah 6:8
The rumors were being circulated with a specific purpose in mind: to frighten the people who were rebuilding the wall, to make them think they would be too weak for the work and wouldn’t be able to complete the task. They also were a form of intimidation designed to ruin Nehemiah’s reputation and to discredit him in the eyes of the people he was helping.
Hmm.. I got to thinking about how rumors impact my 21st century world… how they
- tend to create suspicion/mistrust — of other people, of those in authority
- often result in fear, which in turn leads to a lack of focus… the inability to see a task thru to completion… feeling paralyzed, unable to do anything/be productive… being paranoid… losing perspective
- cause us to jump to premature conclusions, ignoring facts
- can be intimidating, which in turn can result in staining/tainting one’s reputation, discrediting one’s character
Yuck. That’s pretty depressing.
Part of getting out of my funk has been 1) acknowledging it and 2) intentionally making some choices:
- to focus on what I KNOW is true… not all the what if’s
- to limit my exposure to social media (!!!) and other premature/not-yet-proven news sources
- to choose to walk by faith… not by sight or hearsay
I’m still in the process of putting all this into practice… still learning… and still believing that this is how I — and you — can have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”