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Photo credit: https://www.coloradodepressioncenter.org/new-anxiety-program-resource/stress-anxiety-emotion-fear-wooden/

This week has been the week I have been dreading for months:  back to school.  Initially I was dreading it because we had no idea what would happen – whether school would be virtual or some hybrid of virtual and in-person.  Then, I was anxious about how to actually help a first grader and sixth grader do virtual school at the same time – all while working myself.  Because this would all be new, I felt like I was staring into a black hole of knowledge, with no way to know what to really expect.  On the one hand, not knowing meant I had no choice but to, “Let go, and let God.”  On the other hand, I’m really terrible at letting go.

Our first day finally arrived yesterday, and some of the anxieties I had felt were founded.  The first few hours were spent dashing up and down the stairs of our home, juggling one child on the second floor and the other on the first floor, or tag-teaming with my spouse.  Fortunately, the two girls started school an hour apart, so I could manage the stress of one child at a time.  However, there were moments when Zoom meetings started at the same time – and some of those times were times when the technology was just not working.  Knowing full well that calm can produce more calm, I put on my “Zen face.”  But on the inside, I kept thinking there was no way this would be sustainable.

But by midday, both girls had found a rhythm.  The elder was especially becoming more independent and her usual confident self, and the younger quickly learned how to go with the flow, finding educational things to fill empty holes, and navigate new systems.  I was even able to find ways to squeeze in my own work throughout the day, do a livestream set of prayers, and catch up on pastoral care calls.  Despite the initial chaos, the day went so well, I felt confident we could do this!

Throughout the day, images and verses from scripture kept popping up in my mind:  Jesus asking Peter why he doubted while walking across water; Jesus reminding us how if the flowers of the field and the birds of the air are cared for, how much more are we loved and valued; or angels at the tomb telling Mary Magdalene and the other women not to be afraid.  Time and time again in scripture, we hear the refrain, “Do not be afraid.”  We hear that phrase not because we should try to become perfect, anxiety-free humans.  We hear that phrase because anxiety is normal – but so is God’s love and care for us.  I do not know what anxieties you are holding today, but my hope is you can remember God’s abundant love and care for you – whether you hear those words from God, whether you feel that in your heart through the Spirit, or whether a friend, family member, or a stranger is God’s messenger of hope to you today.  Wherever the reassurance comes from, do not be afraid – you are loved and cared for – and you’ve got this!!