“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7 (NRSV)
When I had written my meditation in summer 2019, I was struggling to find full-time employment and was concerned for my family’s health. While my personal battles were anxiety-inducing, the thought of a terrible pandemic wasn’t even a remote possibility in my mind. I had no idea of the fresh challenges and anxieties that all of humanity and I would face beginning in late 2019. And I had no idea just how much the Bible verse I had based my reflection on would serve as an anthem for the year to come.
If I had been given a glimpse at 2020, I would have been shocked to see the U.S. go into lockdown mid-March. I would have not believed that the dance studio I work at, my brothers’ schools, and the schools my mom and dad teach at would be shuttered for months and that we would all have to adapt to virtual teaching and learning. I would have been astonished to see a preview of me teaching dance outdoors with a mask on in the stifling summer heat, trying to manage both my in-person students and students on Zoom.
Most of all, I would have been startled to see us all afraid to go on simple outings that we had previously taken for granted, like going to the grocery store and meeting with loved ones. The perpetual anxiety of giving or getting COVID-19 was a pervasive nightmare.
Though I did receive full-time employment in 2020, a blessing I will always be extremely grateful for (especially because my job has been remote and allowed me to stay safer from COVID-19), my new work has come with a whole new set of stressors and challenges. And these struggles have been more difficult to navigate because my work life and home life are essentially one and the same. I have also been spending the majority of my time at home, to lessen my chances of contracting COVID-19, and thus I’ve had little outlet from my new responsibilities.
When we received news in late 2020 that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were found to be highly effective in preventing COVID-19, I felt the most hope I had in a while. Several months later in March, when I heard that I could get the vaccine as a dance teacher, I was both excited for the future and terrified at the prospect of a potential bad reaction. Getting my second dose of the vaccine was nerve-racking as some of my friends and family had unpleasant side effects, but I entrusted myself to God. Fortunately, I had only mild side effects.
In short, 2020 was a tumultuous year filled with a sense of continual, heightened anxiety and adversity. It seems the words of Philippians 4:7 have never rung truer than they have in the past year. We, as humans, cannot understand why 2020 had to unfold in the distressing way it did, but God’s peace was still there for us to hold on to when nothing made sense. And it was there for us especially when we couldn’t fully quiet our fears and anxieties and couldn’t seem to achieve inner tranquility amidst the uncertainty. God’s peace doesn’t always manifest itself in a feeling, but we can be assured of it through faith. As noted in my reflection, “God’s peace is not confined to feelings. God extends peace to us even when—and especially when—we can’t seem to find tranquility.”
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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