Something Good- Day 277-278

Yesterday we stayed up late watching a movie. We were thinking about going to Bear World but decided to go to the thrift store instead to find parts for our Halloween costumes. We were able to find everything we needed and got a couple nice shirts as well.

Today we watched a general conference for our church. I love the call to be better and to grow closer to God. Then we took a nap and played some games to finish the night.

Corona Virus Plea

I am a skeptic. I rarely believe what I hear from rumors or the media. I need to find out for myself what is true. From the beginning, I was not scared of Covid-19 (A.K.A. Corona virus) because I am healthy, young, and wash my hands regularly. However, after hearing stories from some of my friends, I thought it was important to share their thoughts on quarantines, social distancing, and good hygiene.

One particular friend’s story struck a chord with me. She shared that she has four immediate family members who are at risk of death if they contract corona virus. Her brother is most at risk because he  was hospitalized recently for trouble breathing on his own. She shared her anxieties in trying to get all the necessary supplies to help her family self-isolate until the risk of sickness decreases and her fears that they may not survive if one of them contracts Covid-19.

I will tell the rest of the story in her own words:

As I’m unloading bags from my store trips, my brother is watching the news. We’ve explained the self-quarantine, social distancing, and how Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong have successfully decreased death rates and even the virus in general by practicing these methods. The news goes on, reporting how parents are finding activities for the kids while they’re out of school. The activities are in the community. For example, the butterfly exhibit increased from 40 people a day to 200 today. This is not social distancing, and my brother knows it. He gets angry- he’s legitimately scared he’s going to die and hates the idea of severe pneumonia because he knows what it feels like to not be able to breathe. It sounds like a painful horrible death to him, and I understand why he feels this way. He says, “please, you have to call someone, you have to write letters. I want to live, and I don’t want to stay in the house forever. “We’ll run out of food. “There’s not enough, and I don’t have enough of the things I need to not get sick.” He’s right about it all! I don’t know who to call or write because so many people don’t really understand!

I don’t need to fear. Most of you don’t need to fear, but there are many in the vulnerable category who rightly need to fear and protect themselves. They need our help protecting them. They are relying on us! They are sitting in homes, praying they won’t need to suffer, afraid of not only death, like my brother who wants to do so much more and is not even 30, but also of the pain and suffering as breathing becomes more and more labored. They sit at home hoping something can stop this or at least greatly limit it. They’re doing all they can. I’m doing all I can for them.

I’ve seen posts- let’s pray, let’s fast, and yes, let’s do. But faith without works is dead, prayer without action is asking God to stop us instead of partnering with him. We need not fear. The reason for this is to put our prayer into action and answer the prayers of my brother, of my father and mother, and my sister. The point of this is to answer the prayers of family members like me! We have a real chance to bear one another’s burdens to stand as brothers and sisters in this great human family. It is a unique and wonderful and beautiful opportunity if we choose to take it.

My niece who is quarantined with them said, “I don’t want to stay inside all day. It’s hard.” I said, “Well, if it keeps your Mom, and grandpa and grandma, and Uncle Matt from getting sick will you do it?” Yes, she meekly nods and says, “but for how long?” “How long would you do it if it keeps them dying?” She looks at me with a big smile and adamantly says, “Forever. I’d even stay in here forever if it meant saving someone’s life I didn’t know, but I love them so much longer than forever.” If a 9-year-old can do it, then why not us with all our children? Please hear my brother’s voice because I don’t know who to write to.

Would it have been worth it to you to go to the movie or restaurant or not limit your work outside or demand your employees come to work as even one person dies you don’t know? I believe most of us would be like my niece. I’m counting on this basic human goodness to help my family! So let me explain what social distancing is and looks likes so you can answer the prayers of my family and many others like them at this time:

Limit contact to no more than 50 people at any place, but staying under 20 is better and highly encouraged. Stay six feet away from anyone. If you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested immediately. Have people work from home as much as possible. Schools close. They don’t stay open for breakfast and lunch or childcare purposes for parents. You encourage the whole population to stay at home as much as possible. Employers and governments support parents in staying at home with their kids, working from home as possible, and ensuring people can financially do so while having their needs met. In the long run, the cost to governments and employers is cheaper than if this spreads, and the economy fares much better. No one goes to restaurants, movie theaters, malls etc. You only go out for medical care- if it’s absolutely necessary, for the job you have, and potentially to the grocery store or pharmacy. That’s it.

This isn’t a time to visit neighbors or family living in other homes. You stay in your home, and they stay in theirs. Kids don’t run back and forth between houses. We seriously distance ourselves for a few weeks from everyone possible. We wash hands often, disinfect often, use hand sanitizer, etc. Then at the end of a three-to-four-week period, we begin lifting some, but not all, of these restrictions. The spread is almost eliminated from the community, deaths prevented, and slowly we begin lifting aspects of the social distancing.

Take time to play with your kids. Have conversations. I promise that will be far more bonding and memorable than any movie you watch or place you visit. Let’s focus on relationships! Maybe you’re alone or live with roommates who just pay the rent and you aren’t friends with. Great, still focus on relationships. This is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with our higher power, maybe Karma, or Buddhist tradition, perhaps Allah. For me, it’s God and Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating spending deep reflection on where I’m going and how I’d like to improve. I will reflect on relationships, who I can apologize to or mend things with.

Then I’ll find ways to help others. I’ll find a single mother who needs to go to work and watch her kids during the day so I can support social distancing. I’ll find seniors, who shouldn’t go out, and shop for them. If anyone gets sick, I can cook soup and leave it on their doorstep, so I’m still social distancing. This doesn’t need to be a burden. It can be a beautiful time. A time where, as a community, we truly care for each other and we grow as individuals. We can come out of social isolation better and more whole. The choice is ours.

If there is one thing epidemiologists and the WHO have scientifically proven, it’s simply this- the spread of the disease, the severity of it and the death rates can be controlled by social isolation and distancing. It really is our choice! I truly hope people read this. Sharing things so personal doesn’t come easy to me. I’m typically much more reserved. Most people didn’t know my brother was in a coma, as I didn’t talk about it. But I share this because I kept thinking of my brother’s plea to me, “please write a letter, call someone, help me. I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to die.” This voice keeps me up tonight. I hope you hear my brother’s plea. Please help him, help my family members!

If you want to see the effects of social distancing and how it can help at this time, please click here to see the virus simulator.

 

Something Good- Day 33 Grief

I have been struggling with my faith for a long time. After Gabriel passed away, it was hard to want to talk to God. I felt hurt, sad, and alone. I know that death is a part of life and that I had felt God before. I did not necessarily blame God for what happened, but I did not know how to process my grief. I did not have the words to say what I felt. So I shut God and people in general out of my life. I became numb and angry. I was angry at everything and nothing. I realized later that it was not anger that I was feeling but rather, anxiety and grief and internal conflict. It just came out as anger.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I stopped feeling close to God. I stopped believing, in many ways, because I did not know how to cope with what I was experiencing. Today, I felt God again. I felt close to God again, and my emotions flowed out of me as they had done before I moved here. I cried because I felt more than I had felt in a long time. I had let myself become numb to the world around me, but now I felt seen and understood and not as alone anymore.

It may not make sense to someone who does not believe in God or who has never felt at peace with the world, but it felt good to let out my emotions and feel again. That was my good thing for today- to be able to feel again, even if it was grief. I allowed myself to cry, to feel, and to be. For the first time in a long time, I was no longer numb. And that is a pretty amazing feeling.

Something Good- Day 12

I have been having a difficult time with church lately. I feel disinterested and distracted and generally just not in the right mindset. Today, though, I was able to pay attention more than normal and get some good insights out of it. I also feel like God is chastening me, but I think I am starting to take some steps in the right direction.

Something Good- Day 4 & 5

I got to bed especially late last night and forgot to do this, so I’m doing both days today.

I went to donate plasma yesterday and was worried that I would not be able to donate because my temperature was too low, but luckily it went back up after a couple minutes. This was especially good because they had a promotion that gave me an extra $15. The money I get from plasma is our food money for the month, so we got to go out to eat because of that extra money yesterday.

Today I watched a movie called “Breakthrough” about a boy that falls through ice and is miraculously saved by the prayers of others. I have been questioning my faith lately. I know that I believe in God, but I am not sure what that extends to in my life or how that looks for me. While this movie did not necessarily strengthen my faith, it did give me reassurance that it is okay to not have all the answers and that eventually things have a way of figuring themselves out.

Sexual Attraction and Religion

There are a few things that I hardly ever speak about or write about because they are simply not culturally acceptable. Sometimes that means they are not acceptable in society at large, and sometimes it means they are not acceptable to my immediate culture surrounding me on a daily basis. Homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and sexual attraction are all things that are not culturally acceptable for me to talk about here, or anywhere else really.

I avoid these topics for a few reasons. One reason is that this blog posts directly to my personal Facebook page. I made the difficult decision to do that a few years ago because I realized how much people don’t talk about the hard stuff, and I wanted them to. I wanted to not feel so alone in what I was feeling. So I decided that if I wanted to see this, I had to start doing it.

I do not know how many of my friends know about my mental illnesses, disorders, or feelings toward gender or sexual attraction. I do not know who will read this today and learn something about me that I never would have told them in person. This puts me in an incredibly vulnerable place, but someone has to do it. Someone has to talk about the hard things to make it easier for others to talk about hard things.

So… Here it goes…

I read a post on Facebook that said sexual feelings are from God so we should not be ashamed of them. Since this was a post on a religious page, someone then asked why churches can discriminate between homosexual feelings and heterosexual feelings if they are all from God. How can we say that homosexual feelings are not from God if we believe heterosexual feelings are from God?

I don’t believe we can. I do not believe that we can honestly say that attraction in any form is unnatural, an abomination, or any other form of condemning language often used in religion to denounce the practice of homosexual behavior. If sexual feelings are from God, you cannot say that the direction of those feelings negates that statement.

However, believing that homosexual feelings are from God does not necessarily mean that acting on those feelings is sanctified by God. God gives us certain desires or tendencies that may or may not be for us to act upon. I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I have had the desire to die for as long as I can remember. I do not believe God wants me to act on this desire. However, I do believe that I should not be ashamed of this desire because it does come naturally to me.

We have a tendency in society, and often even more so among church members, to judge feelings as bad or people as bad for having these feelings. If you express natural feelings that are not common place or considered socially acceptable, you can be shamed, isolated, and abandoned by those around you. I do not think anyone should be ashamed of their sexual feelings. Whether you are attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, the feelings that come naturally to you are not anything to be ashamed of. Again, that doesn’t mean you should act on these feelings (either heterosexual or homosexual) because there are bounds that have been set. But I believe that we need to break out of the mindset of being ashamed or shaming others for their natural feelings and inclinations.

I do not have sexual feelings naturally. Thinking about kissing or other sexual touching is not something I enjoy, and my body has an adverse reaction to sexuality in any form. Does this mean that my sexual feelings (or lack thereof) are not from God?  I cannot believe that to be true. I believe that God has given me these feelings for a purpose. I do not know that purpose, but I do know that it has helped me to better understand those around me and that it connects me on a more spiritual and emotional level with those around me rather than a sexual or physical level.

Because I feel no sexual attraction towards another person, I am more emotionally attracted to them. I feel the desire to get to know others because I feel their hurt or their goodness or their love or potential. I want to get to know people because I want to connect with them on an emotional level. I want to share their burdens and partake in their capacity to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I want to be friends with people because I like knowing and experiencing how others feel.

This makes me a good listener. It makes me more understanding of others. It makes me more compassionate when someone is hurting. It also makes life harder in some ways because I am more emotionally involved with others so the potential for emotional damage to myself increases. And it makes it harder to desire to date or find a companion because most people want a physical connection in romantic relationships rather than just an emotional one. In fact, romantic hardly seems like an appropriate term for me because how much romance is there if there are no sexual feelings?

The point of this though is that I believe we need to stop labeling thoughts as good or bad or people as good or bad for having certain thoughts or feelings. People are often quick to judge someone who does not fit their standard of normalcy. But if you believe that we are all created equal, that we are children of God, and or that God is no respecter of persons, I feel it is a contradiction to condemn another person for feelings that come naturally to them. We need to make discussing natural feelings normal if we ever want to understand how people feel and why they do the things they do.

Grateful for Faith

Sometimes believing in something bigger than yourself isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes everything in you to believe that there is something better than how things are right now. In the desperate times though, faith has been the one thing that I have been able to cling to. Faith is what I am left with when everything else fails or falls away. Faith is my constant. Faith is my core.

I am so grateful for the faith that has guided me through difficult circumstances. I am grateful for the faith that has stayed with me when hope seemed to slip away. Life gets complicated and difficult and even unbearable at times, but that faith that there is something else helps me through the rough times. I may not have anything else left in me, but I am grateful that I can still keep a glimmer of faith no matter what happens.