On the Side: June 2020
Danger and Refuge
by Shelly Wyrick
“Mom, Tatonka is the only chick who wants to be held,” my eldest observes. Yes, the smallest of our chicks is often perched on a shoulder, held in a hand or hiding under someone’s knee as they sit crisscross apple sauce. The chick knows my kids are safe and, of course, she wants to feel safe.
Likewise, we have spent the last several months hunkered down seeking safety from COVID-19. As we begin to crawl out from under this pandemic, I wonder, how are you? How has this trial played out in your home? I presume some empty nesters have finished their bazillionth puzzle, many young moms are yearning for playdates and I can’t be the only parent of school-aged kids frazzled over virtual learning. Worse, my heart aches over those with loved ones who are immunosuppressed, and it sinks for those who are dealing with this virus personally.
The spectrum of how this plays out in homes across our country varies greatly. In one home, the virus has stricken, and our sister’s plight looks devastatingly different than the physician’s spouse whose town has zero cases. The virus could literally be in your home, or it could only be a threat many miles away. Likewise, the magnitude of danger this virus possesses differs. Some homes include young and healthy families, while others include family members who simply cannot risk getting sick due to age or health. Yet, in this vast variance, we find unity. First, we stand Side By Side as physicians’ wives. Second, and this is where I’m going, the battle we each personally face affects our hearts and minds.
Regardless of your stay-at-home situation, I understand if you’re having a hard time. While our battlefield differs, one thing is the same—part of the challenge we face with COVID-19 is in an inward battle. As a majority, we have not gotten sick and our doctor-spouse-heroes have evaded the illness. Thank heavens. (Our hearts have ached, and our prayers have cried out, for those who have not been so fortunate.) For many, the prevailing side effects of this beast have been fear, anxiety and, if I’m honest, anger. Fear of infection. Anxiety over the state of our country. Anger slathered all over everything from your lost puzzle piece to the reopening of our society. As I peek out from under the quarantine blanket, my eyes wince at the glare of fear, anxiety and anger. Inward battles.
While COVID-19 is dauntingly dangerous, there is also impending danger in fear and anxiety, let alone anger. An imminent danger. That’s why Tatonka the chick makes me smile. I like she knows she is safe with my kids. She knows where her refuge is, and she seeks it out often.
“He will cover you with His pinions (flight feathers), And under His wings you may seek refuge…” (Psalm 91:4, NASB).
Early in our stay-home adventure, we bought four chicks and two ducklings. Each family member affectionately “owns” one bird, and they provide hours of entertainment for the kids. My husband’s chick, named Tatonka, is the smallest chick in the diverse family. Two weeks into our ownership, we had a major crisis with little Tatonka. The splashing of her larger duckling counterparts had repeatedly left her soaked. Being wet, she was often cold. On this evening, my kids noticed her standing hopelessly away from the brood in the corner of the cage, tipping over. I picked her up and took her to the other room where I employed a hair dryer to warm and dry her feathers and removed some debris from her tiny fuzzy self. Through much of this loud rescue mission she was cradled motionless in the palm of my hand, but we saved her.
Since that night Tatonka, the wee one, wants to be held. I’m not sure how a chicken size brain knows a good refuge, but she knows, and it’s biblical. Psalms 57:1 says, “…in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by” (NASB). Be encouraged. While COVID-19 fear, anxiety and anger seek to demolish us inwardly, we know who saved us. Seek Him out and desire to be held.
Discover mental refuge in Jesus in this COVID-19 season, and let it be a resounding lesson. Regardless of what your home looks like right now—frazzled or boring—we have all glanced toward the beast of anxiety and the monster of an unknown future as our medical spouses toe the frontline. Maybe more than glanced. In sight of this danger, we have refuge. Our living God is the escape route for the anxiety, for the fear, for the anger. To say, “Don’t get mad,” or “Don’t worry!” is elusive. Especially when mad and worried. I have four kids and there were mornings early on in our mandatory-home-learning adventure where 60 things would go wrong within an hour. I could get delirious with anger at COVID-19. Or I could not. While I am far from perfect, I’ve found a small prophylactic thing I do that prevents the unraveling of my inner self. I stop and fill.
I pause and redirect my mind to Jesus, not in a give-me-what-I-need way but in acknowledgement of my utter dependence on Him, and I am filled. Filled with His powerful Holy Spirit. I receive this by standing with my palms open (either virtually or actually), ready to receive a fresh helping of His help. Like a blindfolded child, I reach my hands out searching for the Holy Spirit. I’m a cup-half-full kind of gal, but some days I have to come back to the Lord roughly 60 times in an hour. If I don’t, I forget who I can be with Him. This re-fueling is well worth it because, as with gravity, anger, fear and worry constantly pull down. This explains why seeking His refuge requires a moment by moment re-direction. It is a brilliant choice.
Our medical spouses have carried a lot these past months. We are proud of them. We too have carried, inwardly, their burden and our own. As our country attempts to emerge from COVID-19, there is plenty of anger, fear and worry to overwhelm our inward selves. But we can live victoriously by walking close to Jesus, knowing who we can be with Him when we receive His strength. Let it be said of us, “She knows where her refuge is, she seeks it out often.”
Shelly Wyrick is physical therapist turned stay-at-home mom of four kids ages 4 to 13. She’s been married to her manly medical man nearly 20 years. During this pandemic, she has enjoyed the lack of time in her car and abundant time with her family, a horse named Duke, jogging and reading.