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Shaping up

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

We have been forced to settle down into a situation that is uncomfortably unfamiliar. After weeks of this “new normal,” we are managing it. I dare say that our discomfort is beneficial.

Did you know that uncomfortable and novel experiences actually trigger a unique part of the brain that fuels dopamine? According to an article in WebMD, dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger.

Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus and find things interesting.

Whether you love it or not, this unfamiliarity you are experiencing is creating a new you.

As I noticed the new activity around me in my neighborhood, on the news reports and in my social media feed, I realized that change is shaping us. There are five ways that I have noticed a leveling up in our development. The acronym S.H.A.P.E. will serve as your reminder.

Spiritual: This pandemic has literally brought the world to its knees. We may be uncomfortable, but we are growing spiritually in the midst of this. We are crying out to God of all creation for an answer and for healing. We are repenting for our wrongs. We are witnessing the lost being found. We are seeing when we were once blind. Yes, we are shaping up spiritually. And I’m glad about it.

Horticulture: You have to acknowledge the grace of God that this pandemic hit at the time of gardening season. We could have been sitting inside while it was snowing outside. We would be miserable. But no, we are outside pulling weeds and planting new things. My husband just told me that he plans to extend our garden bed to make room for more. Yes, we need to make room for more, because new fruit is coming in the natural, the spiritual and the practical. If you are not cultivating the fallow ground right now, you’re missing a real move.

Assimilation: This virus is training us in how to adapt. The more we are exposed to, the more adjustments we continue to make. We are adding new information to our knowledge base. Just think of how much we are learning now about business, health care, wellness, government, tax law, geriatric needs, our economy, food supply, communication, the value of life…the list goes on.

Posterity: Our children will never forget this year. Many people have voiced their concerns about the potential negative impacts the coronavirus outbreak will have on the future generations in terms of the lapse in school days and missed milestones. Yet, I believe the longer lasting impact on our children will be how they become change agents and decision-makers simply because they observe the decisions we are making today.

Experience: It appears that we are missing out on so much. But if you stop and think about it, what we are missing was old stuff. We are creating new experiences. Experience is a good teacher.

As I consider the shaping we are undergoing, I keep picturing building blocks. Building blocks are essential elements that form something larger, something of immense importance. I’m reminded of Romans 5:3-5 that says, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” I call this the “building blocks of unshakeable faith.”

I believe this is the season for building unshakeable faith, and through these elements of S.H.A.P.E., we shall receive it. Like dopamine, faith is a big part of our unique human ability to manage life. Rather than wanting to return to the norm, we should embrace this place of new shaping.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via QNikki_Notes or iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.