I thought I would stay away from the law for today's blog, and focus instead on a message of hope and encouragement for these difficult times. I hope you enjoy!
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) are truly words to live by, especially during this tenuous time in the history of mankind. It is a comfort to know that the same God who took care of us yesterday will provide what we need for today. In many aspects, the safety requirements we have adopted to deal with Covid-19 feel familiar to those we had in place while Shephard (our youngest son) was going through treatment for cancer. Although it feels like ages, it wasn’t too long ago that Brady and I had to constantly wash and sanitize everything to keep Shep from getting an infection due to his immunocompromised condition. We also had to do a fair bit of social distancing so that we didn’t bring anything into the house that might be transmitted to him. Taking him out into public was unthinkable.
Nonetheless, despite all of those safety measures, we still spent plenty of time in the hospital while Shep received treatment for staph infections, pneumonia and a host of other ailments. I often thought, “How did this happen? We did everything we were supposed to do! We have been living in a virtual bubble to keep him safe!”
As I post this, I am sure many across this great land of ours are asking the same questions as they or one of their loved ones are dealing with the Coronavirus and/or other serious health complications resulting from this terrible illness. After all, these are not foreign concepts. Control, or at least the illusion of control, is as American as apple pie. The American Dream by very definition is the aspirational belief that all individuals are entitled to the opportunity for success and upward social mobility through hard work. That if I do what I am supposed to do, I will achieve/obtain/reach a certain outcome. Prior to Shep's illness I believed that this was a universal truth. Please don't misunderstand me. I absolutely believe in hard work and having goals. It's why I have my own law practice and why I want to continue to grow that practice. No. It's the whole "expected outcome" part that I have come to accept as a lie.
Although it took a little while for the Lord to get it through my thick skull, I eventually came to accept that no matter what steps I took, in reality, I had very little control over what happened next in my life. That, in reality, the only things I actually had any semblance of control over were my personal decisions and how I responded to the information I was given.
It is difficult during this time to avoid projecting and/or questioning the future as a means of trying to control it and prepare for every possible outcome. Just like the Cornovirus has stages, our thought life can have stages if we begin projecting. It may look like this for example:
"How will America recover from this?” progresses to “America will never recover economically from this disaster."
“What will my job look like? What job will I have since I’ve already been laid off?” progresses to, “The stimulus checks and unemployment benefits won’t be enough!”
“What will America look like in three, six, or nine months if the Coronavirus is still here? What if it goes on longer?” progresses to, “The virus will be here until there’s a vaccine, and it will be at least a year before there’s a vaccine!”
“What about my child’s education?” progresses to, “They’ll be way behind because I know it will be at least a year before a vaccine comes out!”
“When this whole thing is over, I’ll be a homeless person living with my uneducated children under a bridge.”
Final and Worst Stage:
"COLLEGE FOOTBALL WILL BE CANCELLED INDEFINITELY IF NOT FOREVER!!!
As you can see, if we don’t stay focused on today, we are but few short steps away from overwhelming panic and despair. To illustrate how I am most certainly not above thinking similarly, let me share an experience I had when Shep was in his initial phase of treatment for leukemia, and what I learned from that experience.
The first phase of treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is called induction. During this stage they pump the patient’s body full of chemotherapy drugs in an effort to obliterate all of the cancerous cells (“blasts”) present in their system. At the end of this phase (usually thirty days from the start if memory serves me) they test to see if the patient is in remission, which means less than 5% of your bone marrow consists of cancerous cells. Roughly 90-95% of ALL patients achieve remission after induction, BUT it takes a week to get the results back from the test. It was during this week of waiting that I all but jumped off of a tall building.
Just like the example above I went from, “What if Shep is one of the 5% who don’t achieve remission?” to “I know Shep is going to be in the 5%, so I need to plan for that!” I drove his treating physicians crazy, and by the end of the week I had already determined that Shep not only was going to need a bone marrow transplant to survive but that Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland was the only place to get it done right! In other words, I had reached…total, complete and utter insanity!
It was only after I made the nurse tell me for the third or fourth time that I finally accepted that Shep was one the 90-95% of patients that successfully make it into remission after the induction phase. It was shortly after this that I received the sagest advice I would probably get throughout the entire ordeal we had with Shep. A friend, whose child had successfully completed treatment for ALL, told me that I must “Deal with facts, but DEAL with facts.” Meaning not only should I get off Google and stick to what I know, but that WHEN the time came to make a decision, I needed to make strong decision and stick with it until the facts changed. I took this advice to heart and it helped me survive the next three years that Shep was in treatment.
I still apply that principle today and especially as it pertains to the Coronavirus. The only facts we know are:
Covid-19 is fairly easy to transmit and that it can result in severe medical complications and, in some rare cases, death for those who have certain preexisting conditions. It has placed a great strain on healthcare throughout the world.
The economy has taken a pretty significant hit mostly as a result of the steps we have needed to take in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
Many Americans have suffered, continue to suffer, and will suffer as a result of the aforementioned.
Based on those facts, what decisions do I need to make? In response to each fact, here is what we’ve done in my household:
Follow the advice given by the CDC and World Health Organization. You will not see me or my family at Wal-Mart, Target, or the beach (especially since there is a shelter-in-place order now in place).
Make wise choices financially. I am self-employed so I (via my beautiful and highly productive wife) have applied for the loans/programs made available to me as a result of this crisis. Had I been laid-off or furloughed I would have applied for Unemployment and/or CARE Act benefits.
When and where possible, try to ease the suffering of those impacted by being the hands and feet of Jesus!
That’s really it. Everything else I have to place in God’s hands (who has really had it all along) and live on the daily bread I receive from Him. Please understand that as I’m writing this to myself as much as, or even more, so than I am for you.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Not weekly. Not monthly. Not yearly. Why? Because, as explained above, I don’t believe God made us to handle it. Deal with the facts you have before you today; for tomorrow, next week and next year really do have enough worry of their own!
God bless you and your families during this time!