It’s 2018 and you have a friend that works in high-rise construction. Or perhaps someone is involved in law enforcement. You know their job is dangerous and when they go off to work for the day, you might say Be Safe.
We have a correctional facility in my county just down the road from my diner. I often see uniformed corrections workers come in to pick up their breakfast. When they leave, I do my best to encourage them to Be Safe.
When COVID hit, the phrase Be Safe took on a whole new meaning. Now it meant, be sure to wear your mask, or don’t get caught in a closed-in crowd of people.
I’m not a 24/7 mask person, but I will still wear a mask if I have a cold or flu symptoms. I never did that before. When I go to see my doctor I wear a mask even though our healthcare facility doesn’t require them anymore. It just seems like a wise and caring thing to do for people who may be vulnerable. Staying safe physically is just a smart idea.
But let’s consider whether we care to Be Safe emotionally. It seems reasonable we should strive to be emotionally safe from the stress of the world around us. There is plenty to be stressed about. Wars around the world? Stress. Political unrest? Stress. Job loss? Stress. Cultural division? Stress. Relational anger? Stress. Barista got your order wrong? Stress. REALLY?
Yes, I’ve been there too. On most counts. But let’s put some things into perspective. If you look back on your day, and the most stressful moment was the wrong coffee order, you are doing really well. If you find yourself amid relational anger, you have the opportunity to reconcile. Cultural division? Isn’t that relational at its core? You can choose not to inflate the tension. Political unrest? Choose your candidate, participate, and vote. Wars around the world? Be thankful you aren’t in the middle of it and support those in need if possible. (My prayers to you if you ARE directly affected by war.)
We can never completely avoid stress, and that is good. Stress tells us when something is wrong. Stress stimulates adrenaline. It’s like stepping on the gas peddle to get out of trouble. But if you step on the gas and steer into the oncoming traffic, you are increasing your stress to the danger level. You have a choice where you steer the vehicle of your life.
Being safe during COVID meant making decisions to protect yourself. It’s no different with any part of life. But you must choose to Be Safe. Many people chose to take their chances and not wear a mask. They said there was no proof the masks minimized infections. Maybe that’s true. But what I considered a minor inconvenience seemed more rational to me than the unknown risk.
Does the same rationale apply to the rest of life? It seems reasonable. Let’s consider one of the high-stress events in life. You lose your job… You didn’t make that decision. But now you must make a decision. I see three choices. Remain unemployed; search for a job; go live with your parents. OK, the last one may be very sketchy if you are 43 years old. But you must make a choice. Searching for a job is a very difficult choice. Giving up is a very undesirable choice. Probably the two extremes.
But if you allow yourself the time to think through the problem rationally, with the help of friends, one of the choices will rise to be the safest, lowest-risk choice. The key to solving any problem is time and reason.
To devote time to the problem will lower the stress level. Making a decision quickly and immediately acting upon it will often lead to more stress. Time allows your brain to sort out the problem. True, you may have several sleepless nights, but if you let your brain work, the possibilities will become clear.
Then think rationally with the help of friends. Emotion seldom reveals the best long-term course of action. Friends, if they are genuinely good friends, will provide helpful ideas and encourage you. Often they will point you to the ultimate answer. But they MUST be genuine friends. You must have had time to prove they are trustworthy. I’m sure you have had dubious experience with people you thought were your friends.
Finally, there is a lot of safety in Spiritual strength. God cares about you more than any earthly friend. Hopefully, that means a lot to you. The only person better than a close friend is God. Ask Him for help. “But I’m not religious,” you might say. That’s OK, He will still listen. “But I would be admitting I’m weak if I ask God for help.” What would you prefer, being considered strong in the world’s eyes or being helped by the Creator of the world?
You can be safe. I implore you to be safe. Be safe physically. Be safe emotionally. Be safe spiritually. Of the three, I personally believe it begins with spiritual strength and safety. The other two will fall into place.
If you are looking for help from the Creator of the world, I invite you to first read my post, World Religions – Christianity. If you then have further questions, feel free email me. [firstname.lastname@example.org]