At first, the corona virus seemed to be an interruption to me, I think to all of us. A couple of weeks, maybe a few more, but as soon as the break was over, things would get back to normal. A pause in our lives; a temporary break.
Now, the reality is sinking in. This is not a pause at all. It is a complete disruption of just about every system we have. It is a forcible separation; a breaking apart.
The two words are often used as synonyms, but they are vastly different when your break them into their pieces. The ‘rupt’ root (rupture) is the same, but the prefixes are where the differences lie.
The word interruption means a pause; a temporary cessation; a break of continuity. Inter- means during, and -tion means the act of. The act of temporarily pausing and breaking of continuity during a routine action.
The word disruption means a bursting apart; forcible separation into parts; bursting into pieces. Dis- means exceedingly, utterly, and -tion means the act of. The act of utterly bursting apart or forcibly separating into pieces.
We are most certainly experiencing an interruption, but as the days wear on and on the disruption is becoming clearer. Beyond the physical impact and the death toll (which are horrible worldwide), we are beginning to see how this virus is going to change everything. Our jobs are in jeopardy. Our livelihood is threatened. Our norm is shifting. We are living in one of those before/after moments in history where everything pivots. It is not a game.
It will lead to hardship beyond the months we are shut off. When the threat itself is gone, the ramifications will linger on, likely for years to come. It will break us. It will humble us all. It will level the playing field, between people and nations. It already has.
Our response to this event is a key to surviving it. Our brains are trying to make sense of things. We are grasping at straws. Fear. Anger. Finger pointing. Anxiety. Heartbreak. Disappointment. So many reactions and conflicting feelings, sometimes all in one day. It is loss. Lots and lots of loss. A sudden and traumatic amount of grief which weighs heavily on the heart and mind. Collective grief. We have each other. But we don’t. We are forcibly separated. We are alone, but together.
Our social networks are disrupted. Our go-to distractions are disrupted. Our families are disrupted. Our communities of faith are disrupted. Our work environments are disrupted. Our schools are disrupted. We are left alone with ourselves. A scary proposition.
Our very identity as a culture is in question. The weight of that fact is a burden in and of itself. Beyond the bigger picture, is the individual toll this situation is taking on us. We are watching this unfold on our screens “out there” but we are also experiencing the “in here” emotional turmoil. In our homes and hearts, it is becoming hard to distinguish the stir crazy from the heartache. Sometimes you can’t figure it all out. Sometimes you just have to cry. It is okay to not know how to respond. I would even say, in this situation, it is normal not to know.
As people of faith, we are good with definitions. We can tell you all the meanings of all the things. We can quote scripture and verse. We can talk knowledgeably about God and about how he says to weather storms. We can research and break it all down.
What we are not as good with is the demonstration of our faith. Our words and actions are often misaligned. Sitting in our grief and feeling the depth of it makes us uncomfortable, so we ignore it and brush it away. We say we are followers of Christ with the same breath we condemn others who think differently than we do. We are out there with the hoarders of toilet paper in the fear of not getting enough. We value our freedom and financial needs more than the lives of others, so we continue on as usual rather than taking the disruption seriously.
In other words, we are just like everyone else. We are human. The transformation of the heart we espouse isn’t always visible. Situations like the one we are in bring out our worst qualities, don’t they? Our response in our comments and our actions does not always demonstrate what we can so quickly define.
With this worldwide disruption comes the opportunity to demonstrate our faith. We have the chance to sit with our pain and let it transform our brokenness into belief. Our hardness into hope. Our lethargy into love. We can continue along the path we are on, or we can take this disruption and allow God to use it in us. We can get intimate with him and expose our hearts in sackcloth and ashes. This crisis is not an interruption, it is a disruption. This is not the end of the world…it is the beginning.