In the Midst of it All, Don't Forget to Remember
Like many of my brothers and sisters in the faith, I had hoped 2020, a new year a new decade, would bring on a ‘new’ day and it did! Nowhere near the new day I had expected or anticipated. Honestly, I am confident in sharing that it was a ‘new’ that I am not so sure I had prepared for. Ready or not, the ‘new’ year ‘new’ decade came with a ‘new’ that no one living could attest to having experienced.
For me, an avid winter lover, the holiday season was rather mild. We had a few days of light weight snow, but for the most part the year began rather uneventful. A few days of shovels hitting pavements, a few sliding vehicular accidents, a few accounts of footwear slipping on ice, a few days when schools were closed and extra-curricular activities being canceled, yes it was a rather ordinary season. With the expectation of April showers and May flowers, many were in high anticipation of spring season allowing windows to open, curtains to be pulled apart, bicycles to be dusted off, walks in the park to begin and then it happened. The world not only stood still, the world shut down. No springing forth.
The world shut down because of an unexpected, unwelcomed, unannounced visitor, COVID-19. Although slightly mentioned in December 2019, the coronavirus pandemic, a pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) made its way to the United States. The land of the free and the home of the brave was facing an enemy it could not see, the military could not fight, and the government could not stop. The disease was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019, and for the most part reports from the White House minimized its arrival. We were told too many differing things to name in this blog, but it was obvious the proverbial left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists, biologists and a multitude of other ‘ologists’ were scrambling to understand why people were dying in record numbers and grabbing data to try to make sense of the growing numbers of fallen Americans. Americans were afraid of this invisible terrorist and were forced to close our doors.
As we hunkered down in our abodes for weeks, the pandemic although still very active, would become second or third page news. On March 13th when Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician, was fatally shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment executing a no-knock search warrant AND still NO ARRESTS!
Our focus shifted from pandemic to pandemonium when not even two weeks later, on May 25th 46 year old George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Officer Derek Chauvin as he continuously pressed his knee on the neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as Bro. Floyd’s cry for help, his plea for release, his pronouncement ‘I Can’t Breath’ went totally and willfully ignored.
People around the world, people in all fifty of these united states, rose in protest against America’s nasty little secret….racism. Native Americans, the Amish Community, Mormons, Catholics, Atheists, and every other community joined African Americans around the nation as we took to the streets to openly display our stand of solidarity in the on-going fight for equality for all people and the declaration that black lives matter. Americans from every walk of life gathered around one issue ‘justice for all Americans’.
Because of the pandemic and the pandemonium, I began to experience panic. Panic and anxiety are the ‘new’ that I was not looking for but they found me. I reached out to my healthcare provider via tele-health and she suggested I try relaxing. Relax? How was I supposed to do that when my husband was in a car accident and my heart raced not knowing whether Officer Friendly or Officer Fright Night would show up on the scene? Relax? How am I to do that when my first grandchild is going to be born in the chaos or aftermath of COVID-19? Relax? How am I supposed to relax when I, as a senior pastor, are concerned about the people I am called to lead? Relax? How am I to relax as I may not be able to see my mother for an extended period of time? Relax? When as a police chaplain, I am called to serve the men and women in blue as they barely exhale after working twelve hour shifts that include peace protestors and not-so-peaceful provocateurs. Relax? My husband is an essential worker, which really means expendable worker. How exactly am I to relax when my prayer life was mostly one word, “Jesus”?
For several days, I would just call His name all day. I would wake up calling His name. I would go to sleep calling His name and His name was mostly all I said as He led me to serve Him in the discipline of silence. I watched the news and I cried. When I heard the recording of Bro. Floyd calling out for his deceased mother, I heard the voice of every black man that I know. This went on for days. I began to feel frazzled and as if I was quietly succumbing to despair. On day four of this cycle, I called His name as I was getting dressed and I heard Him say, ‘In the midst of all of this, do not forget to remember. Don’t forget to remember who I am and whose you are. Don’t forget to remember that I feel your tears and I know your pain. Don’t forget to remember that I will never leave you and neither will I ever forsake you. Don’t forget to remember that I did not bring you this far to leave you and I didn’t bring you this far to lose you. Don’t forget to remember I am the Lord who heals. Don’t forget to remember I am the Lord who calls and qualifies. Don’t forget to remember Me’.
Since that moment my will has strengthened and any signs of my first time visitors, panic and anxiety, are gone. I heard my doctor say it, but it wasn’t until the Great Physician said ‘In the midst of it all, don’t forget to remember’ that I was able to relax! Now I am able to stand again for and with the righteous and be led to fight against injustice. I never shall forget what He’s done for me. How He loosed my shackles (panic and anxiety included) and set me free. I never shall forget how He brought me out. I never will forget, no never!