The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col 1:15,17
The past couple of weeks have been a study in contrast. On the one hand, life has slowed down due to stay in place orders. At the same time, the news cycle about the pandemic moves at lightning speed. The situation changes daily.
I have been witnessing the transitions being made by people to extraordinary circumstances. A transition is a personal reaction to change, which is an external event. A transition is how you respond to what happens to you. It is how you adjust to change.
Last night, we had a Zoom small group experience with 5 other couples – one of whom lives in Minnesota. One after another, they detailed how life has changed and how they are adjusting. A family celebration of the first birthday of a grandchild has now been put on hold due to transmission issues.
One person has a new job which is supposed to start in a week, but he is wondering whether or not it will materialize as more stringent orders to be isolated are being enforced around the world.
He also said that he is seeing a level of anxiety in people who never experienced it before. His friends were experiencing a physical reaction with tightness of the chest and an accelerated heart rate. The symptoms are very real.
In two weeks, almost 10 million Americans filed for unemployment. That’s a record. So, besides being worried about their health, these people are worried about their financial condition and getting jobs again.
A friend in Chennai, India runs a Christian school. The government has put out lockdown orders which happened so fast that food stores were closed before people could get to them. Another friend sent me an email describing the conditions which are chilling and scary.
India has 1/6th of the world’s population (1.3 billion) but a woefully inadequate health system with only one government doctor per 10,000 people. Given that a country where 200 million people live in slums in the cities, it is only a matter of time before the pandemic explodes. Keeping social distance is impossible.
Yet, my friends in India are positive even in troubling circumstances. He wrote me last week admonishing me to “stay at home” and at the end he said, “let us keep exchanging emails as often as possible in a world that is falling apart and looking for a Savior who will save them from this deadly pestilence”.
My concern here is for the next generation – particularly Gen Z who are in college and high school. They are the most vulnerable when the world seems to be in total chaos. Most don’t have social safety nets, and the isolation of staying at home is a concern to their mental health.
As an example, a friend has a son at the Air Force Academy which shut down due to the Coronavirus and two of his classmates committed suicide. It goes without saying that even before the pandemic, the suicide rate of Gen Z is triple of any prior generation.
Gen Z has gone from a structured life at school, to an unstructured life at home, and many of them don’t have a good healthy environment. Schools in rural counties in North Carolina have continued to provide food – two meals a day. Instead of picking up students, the bus drivers deliver the food to children.
That provides some structure. There are several things we, as adults, can do for Gen Z in these times. The first is to keep our wits about us – if they see or sense panic in us, it will only make matters worse. Keep your wits about you and things in perspective.
Secondly, educate yourself and communicate with them what the facts are – you can go to the CDC Website for updates, or read the Guide published by the University of California a Berkley. Gen Z are likely to get their information from social media which has proved to an unreliable source.
Exercise healthy habits – social distancing, hand washing, staying away from crowds. You can model what they need to do. If you do it, they are more likely to follow your example.
Above all, stay connected with them, even if it is in a virtual manner through Face Time, WhatsApp, Zoom or whatever. Staying connected to social networks – family and friends – can be a stabilizing force.
If you sense that someone is not coping and making a good adjustment, suggest that they go to the bulletin board on Reddit which has a discussion board of people supporting each other due to the pandemic. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone is helpful.
The challenge here is that the next generation has been thrust into a world that has lots of scary things going on – economies possibly collapsing and a pandemic. These are big issues for any generation, but especially for one that is ill-prepared to cope with this kind of change.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: This is a time to be more connected to your mentee as possible. They need support and assurance to navigate through troubled waters.
FURTHER RESEARCH: Keeping Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Guide to Controlling Fears and Anxiety around Coronavirus – U. Cal/Berkley
WORSHIP: Listen to You Hold It All Together –
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