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Your Responses to Corona

Justin Barber
6 min read

Hello friends,

In my last email I recounted being held hostage in the sausage aisle of a grocery store by my anxiety, and realizing I needed to pray for God’s “transcendent” peace before my next grocery run.

By choosing to receive this newsletter you’ve allowed me the privilege of being a small voice in your day (along with ten different clothing brands, suggestions from Instagram on who to follow that you don’t know how to turn off, and that one app you downloaded along time ago but never used and are too lazy to unsubscribe from).

It might sound dramatic, but the fact that I have this “voice” at all is something I put tremendous care and thought towards.

And I think right now — in the middle of the craziest, largest scale event I’ve experienced in my life — the best use of my voice is to create a sense of connection. Though our circumstances might be different, we’re all going through this together (and yet also completely isolated).

So instead of placing your responses to my questions in the “Fellow Valleyists” section at the end of each email like I usually do, I’m going to bring them to the forefront. I hope that this will function as a form of group therapy.

Think of these next few Valleyists as a little pop-up social network (in the purest sense of the term).

In my last email I asked two questions:

  1. At what point during this pandemic has your anxiety been at its worse? (in other words, what’s your sausage moment?)
  2. What are some practical ways you manage your anxiety?

Without any commentary of my own, here are some of your responses.

When has your anxiety been at its worse?

My ’sausage moment’ came at the grocery store, as well. It was an early morning and I knew that the store opened at 7 am and we needed some essentials so I ventured out to arrive at 6:45 am. I arrived and quickly realized that this was similar to Black Friday shopping with crowds already lining up, police in attendance (apparently there had been a fight break out the day before over toilet paper and a drug bust in the parking lot where a dealer was trading drugs for…toilet paper). I think at that moment, I realized that this was a cultural event like no other and it made me feel a deep sadness.

For me, it was right near the beginning of all this. I had decided to meet a friend to go for a walk and get coffee. He lives by what is usually the busiest intersection in [major city]. It was almost completely empty. We walked around an empty mall and it was clear by the end of our conversation that we couldn’t do this again for a long time. On the way home I listened to news about the size of the fiscal bailouts and the magnitude of what this is really sunk in.

“Many moments but the one that feels most ‘oh, is that what got you?’ was right before the shelter in place came into effect. It was that period where my company was starting to emphasize working remotely, other institutions started realizing that changes needed to happen but there weren’t set policies in place. I needed a gym. (“Needed”. Right. This situation has been helping me understand what my needs are.) Over the course of a few days all my gym options kept closing-first my gym, then my backup option then my backup backup option. As I was in the middle of watching my options either get restricted or removed one by one, I had my moment of “what is happening?! I just want a gym. Why do I need to restructure my life in this specific aspect too? I don’t want to run or do at home exercises. I want to keep my routine.” Of course, since then I’ve realized what’s important. Is it a gym or is it physical activity? If physical activity, then you better suck it up and go outside to run and do some bodyweight squats.”

What are some practical ways you manage your anxiety?

Still waking up early enough to make my bed and do devotions before work.

I’ve been sharing prayers with my students at the beginning of each class. Having words already written to pray sometimes help me when I’m not sure what to say or think. This Liturgy for those Flooded by too much information was especially comforting.

Remembering what’s important and digging to find the ‘need’ behind my old routine, then finding ways to address the need.

Remembering that I don’t need to add another burden to my shoulders of ‘making good use of this time.’

Managing my anxiety looks like jumping on the tramp with my kids each day. Something about the lack of control in the air helps me be reminded that, while I’m not in control of everything, I can solidly stay connected with my creator.

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