Week 3, Elderly and the Wilderness
*pre-post disclaimer: a bunch of fragmented thoughts coming right up! At least i try to put a title to each section 🤪
21 April, 2020 (Tuesday): It's been 2 weeks since the #circuitbreaker measures were in effect and this afternoon at 1700hrs, PM Lee Hsien Loong released another slew of measures, coupled with the news of an extension of the quarantine period by 4 weeks (till 1 June). Nothing we did not expect. Yes, I felt "sian" (a Hokkien word which conveys boredom, frustration, weariness or monotony), but definitely less so than I did two weeks ago.
I met my grandfather at the lift lobby of my apartment. He had donned on a surgical mask to fetch the mail. He spotted me and broke out into a "Aiyoh (a term often used to exclaim surprise or disappointment), another 4 weeks!!!"
I laughed. "So what will you do?"
"Don't care lah," he replies half-jokingly. He still obeys the law despite his show of disregard, just for some comedy.
"What do you mean you don't care? You have to care! It's not safe for you." I knew he was kidding, but I wasn't.
"Well I just go and walk by myself. I won't go where there are many people, then I'll come home. What do you want me to do? I'll die faster if I stay at home."
He is adamant about his routine, and I am glad he is. After all, while it is risky for an older man to be out and about in this. time, fitness is paramount to managing the body's response against this virus.
As he walked through the front door I feel proud and scared all at the same time. Also sad, because he is forced to embrace this new reality at an age where everything should be comfortable. And while he is fighting to stay active for the preservation of his health, everyone else wants people like him to stop.
Earlier that weekend he was tickled about our Zoom dinner with my uncle, loudly proclaiming "HELLO" across the dinner table a couple of times. It was hilarious.
"Dad," my uncle calls out, attempting to connect over the extended family table. Grandpa doesn't hear it. He continues at his food without looking up. He's not used to this Zoom thing.
"Gong gong, Ah gu (how I call my uncle) is calling you!"
"Oh... YES???" he bellows.
I chuckle. I love that he's trying.
He recounted to us a rather sad encounter during his walks. Despite wearing a surgical mask, younger people (he could not guess their age) would throw him a dirty look, cover one hand over their mask and run away pointedly. It made me mad.
He said "it's okay lah, I'm used to it."
He shouldn't be.
But it made me think about my response and how I would weave in and out of lanes to avoid "crowds" in the supermarket. Did my self-perception of social responsibility make me come off as rude? I certainly hoped not.
Whilst the elderly ARE indeed the most vulnerable group, they are also the most difficult to manage, simply because they are less adaptable. Many of us question why it is so difficult for them to change but consider this: if people of the younger generation grumble, how much more so would they?
Refinement in Confinement
... wander in the wilderness for forty years...
Numbers 32: 13
At my cell group meeting the day after, my cell leader shared that the day the announcement for the extension was made was exactly 40 days to the end.
"cool." i thought to myself.
The number 40 represents a period of trial and tribulation. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, where He had to struggle with trial and temptations. The Israelites were stuck in the wilderness for 40 years. I later found out that the term “40 days and 40 nights” was just another way to say a “really long time”.
And for many of us, this feels like a really REALLY long time. For many of us, THIS feels like our wilderness.
"Trials and tribulations" may seem like an over-exaggeration, but with #firstworldproblems being bubble tea and dessert scarcity, it may seem like that for many. For those in my circle, fledgling businesses, self-employed individuals, working mums... the pandemic and restrictions put on businesses, disruption to an already new routine, have just added an additional layer of stress.
The last two weeks have seen me and the people around me simply... functioning. I felt like a machine as we cranked out application after application, one social media post after the next. Sure, I took up some “meaningful” projects telling myself it would be worth it. But I couldn’t help but feel “sian”... then i felt guilty feeling that way.
Just as I was thinking that, I received a text from a close friend who was struggling with her own lack of passion to continue with a long term project. And while I knew all the motivational and politically correct answers. They were not answers she needed (or wanted to hear).
So I did a double take.
I had to really think about what I would tell her. Because it meant that I was telling it to me too. Just a few weeks ago i committed to a larger stake in the box, sealing the deal by turning down a very enticing job offer to be fully vested into the box.
Yet as I closed the deal I was so frightened. I was worried that I would lose steam and let everyone down. After all long-term commitments are well... long.
I usually get all fired up for a new project, running a mile-a-minute for the first week, first month, first year even... but it's not the first battle that is fought that matters, but the last, and the many along the way. Such commitments are really marathons, not sprints. And the challenge is to keep the fire going.
Understanding what commitment entails is one thing, but actually acting on it is another. And I am learning that commitment is a daily decision, not a fleeting feeling one could act on at whim. It is the people who ride out the bad times that see success, and I am determined to see how that looks for me and this company.
Misgivings and Thanksgivings
Hands up if you've heard someone say this in the past week:
"when things go back to normal".
I'm guilty as charged. 🙋🏻♀️
You see, we'd rather go back to that job they we complained about, the lack of family time we had grouses about, that class workout that we would grumble about... rather than put up with THIS.
In "normalcy" we'd choose to run away from responsibility, things that would worry us or that we did not want to deal with.
In our desperation to recreate what we are familiar with, we crave familiarity in the things we used to shun. It's funny how we are running towards our Pharaoh (fear) because that bring us back to comfort. What an irony isn't it?
I'm embracing this new normal, or rather this normal that I will find myself in when the virus blows over. My biggest fear really, is that I will forget the lessons this COVID-19 situation has taught me and I would fall back to that Cass that was before.
I suppose this is the refinement that God is bringing me through. The renewal of my identity and self in the absence of the things I hide behind. (*honest talk*) I hide behind the friendships around me, the work that I bury myself into, the "urgent" things, because I don't want to face the possible disappointment of reality.
I choose to numb my emotions by bombarding my mind and heart with a million other things, to stop myself from feeling the possible mountain of negative thoughts that could and would come.
Because I have been running away for so long, I know that it is in this season when all the distractions around me are removed-- don't get me wrong. I love my friends, my community-- that God has brought me back to be more aware of my spiritual community, a community that I would usually brush aside as "they would not understand my struggles in the marketplace", yet they are one of the biggest groups who has supported me through this time.
And He has showed me that He remembers me... through the people around me:
My cell leader, gave a full month of box membership fee (without knowing the amount), just from a prompting from God. He gave her a number that matched exactly a month's membership!
My sister and my mom immediately transferred the relief given by the government to my account for the box
After a training session for the Youth Leaders, they promptly gifted me with GrabFood vouchers even though I said I'd do it for them without cost
Another cell sister gave her entire COVID-19 reward (for her service during this time) from her company to me, because of a prompting from God!
I sent her this in response:
is the $xxx the full amount of the award o.o Oh man _____... 😭 i think more and more God is reminding me that He loves me and cares for me, and that He has given me a community that I can count on.. I honestly usually forget that, and it is in this time that despite all our individual struggles, God is showing me the beauty of the community in greater measure. I'm just so so grateful... It's not about the amount.. but that you thought to even give it to me when you do also need it! as you move towards the next season of your life..
Beyond the box, God is teaching me to love the people around me a little more. And to not assume that they don't have time to care. Because if they really are friends, they will care, and we don't have to feel alone:)
Cass cass (: hahaha I just sent u $xxx, which u can use for your box/yourself, or just as u deem necessary! Recently, my boss gave me an award (it's called "inspire" award in ___) to affirm all the efforts in continuing to support surgeries amidst covid-19. It's a monetary award. But ytd, I randomly had this prompting from God to give it to u. So I asked God to speak to me today again about it, and He did. It's abit too divine in timing? I woke up this morning at 6.45am wanting to run, but my body was too tired so I slept till 10plus. When I woke up, before I got off my bed, God prompted me that C (her boyfriend) was gonna share a book with me, and He told me to read it. So around 11:49am, C really sent the link to a book.... (HAHAHAHAH OMG, so scary). And when I opened the book, haven't finish the second chapter, God just reminded me of u (and the $X). So I knew it was a clear prompting. So I just finished reading the book, it's not v long. But I can see why it's such an important book in a time like this for myself - haha I was ministered by it. It's making me think (and frying my brain cause it's so deep). But I guess I know God knows what u need too! So yes, just acting on the prompting(: & I guess, I sense God wants u to read and be blessed by the book too! Here's the link - u can download the pdf copy and/or listen to it on youtube https://www.desiringgod.org/books/coronavirus-and-christ Hope it brings u comfort in this season, and that u will continue to hope in the Lord despite the challenges💪🏼 He is good, and u are loved - don't doubt & just keep walking with Him. He'll see u through it! Lots of love, with u in this tough season❤️