What God Taught Me in Quarantine
When the reports of the impact of COVID-19 started coming out of New York, I was 8 months pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy diagnosis. While this was kiddo number four, this was the first time I had experienced pregnancy complications.
The early reports of the virus, along with a lack of information on the risks of the virus on pregnant women and babies, scared me. The three kids (ages 7, 5, and 2) and I immediately began staying at home except for essentials. We homeschool, so exposure at school was thankfully not a concern.
However, Justin was still going into work, and I had weekly doctor appointments.
The more information we had, the more I realized the severity of the situation. My mother-in-law was unable to fly on an airplane to help with our three oldest children during labor. Most people that I would have typically turned to for help during that time either were or lived with essential workers. Additionally, due to hospital policy, Justin was unable to come to our final doctor appointments to discuss how to handle my complications. I was even afraid that Justin would be unable to be there for the birth of our child because of expanding hospital restrictions. Additionally, food and other essential items were hard to find in our area. While I did have a decent supply of toilet paper unlike many others, I remember panicking when the produce section at one of our local grocery stores was totally empty.
I realize our sufferings were significantly less than many. Throughout it all, we still had food on the table (although perhaps a little unorthodox at times) and had each other. Despite pregnancy complications, we never feared for anyone’s life. However, fear and isolation were a real problem for me just like they were for so many others.
What I Learned From This Experience
Throughout these weeks, God really spoke to me and kept telling me to TRUST – which is not easy when there is so much uncertainty. In his book entitled Interior Freedom, Jacques Philippe points out that trust is not a passive act. Rather, faith and hope require the exercise of the theological virtues. “Believing does not always come naturally, and it sometimes requires us to take our courage in both hands to put an end to hesitation and doubt…In the same way hope is a choice that often demands an effort. It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid. Hope means trusting. When we hope we are not passive: we are acting.” (pg. 96)
Virtues can be defined as habitual actions. The theological virtues are gifts from God which allow us to live (or act) in connection with God’s grace. In other words, they connect our actions to God giving them a supernatural character. However, they are still real human actions. Thus freedom from fear and worry are possible to the extent that we are willing to employ the gifts of God.
It requires real effort to keep this in mind. However, when you do so, you can begin to see the action of God. This changes our experience of the events in our lives. We can begin to live with confidence or what Jacques Philippe calls “interior freedom”.
As I reflect on the last several months, I realize that for every complication in our path, God provided us with a solution in His time. No one got sick. Friends brought us what we needed from the store when they were going. We found a college student who was willing to watch the children while I was delivering. Justin was able to pass the screening when I went to the hospital to deliver. Dominic Matthew was born in four hours from start to finish without further complications. In fact, he came so fast Justin had to run into the hallway to get the nurse. Civil restrictions were such that we were able to have Dominic baptized in a very small ceremony the day we came home from the hospital while maintaining social distance.
A Practical Step for Increasing the Theological Virtues
With my type A personality, trust does not come easily. Each day, I find myself praying for trust. At our pastor’s urging, we placed an image of the Divine Mercy on our front door to remind us and those in our neighborhood to place our trust in God. You can read more about the practice here.
There is something captivating about the Divine Mercy image with its inscription at bottom, “Jesus I Trust in You.” This image provides me a daily invitation to exercise the theological virtues of faith and hope. I invite you to consider posting this image on your door or another prominent place in your home and inviting Jesus to help you live in greater freedom and security.