Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Raise Your Hand If You're Struggling

It happened yesterday. I finally broke down. I could feel it coming. In fact, I was shocked it took me three weeks to cry, being the FEELER that I am.

I was simply trying to make some homemade pizza dough. Even though this Friday felt the exact same as every one of the last three Fridays, I was gonna make this a FUN FRIDAY FAMILY NIGHT whether we liked it or not, gosh darn it.

Yet when I reached for the can of evaporated milk that my Grammy’s recipe calls for, it was nowhere to be found. A staple in my pantry, now missing. So as any normal person would do three weeks in to a global pandemic, I LOST IT. I bawled my eyes out.  Kleenex after valuable Kleenex, the tears kept coming.

My husband, completely unaware, walked in the back door, and stopped dead in his tracks. You know how men get we cry….that OH-CRAP-Deer-In-The-Headlight Look. He asked me what was wrong and I just spewed ALL THE THINGS I feel.


Mainly I feel SAD. And it’s so multi-layered and sporadic because I’m sad about the BIG stuff, the little stuff and everything in between. One minute I’m weeping over doctors, nurses, first responders and critically ill, and the next I’m heartbroken over telling my son we’re not going to Disney. Within the same hour, I’m in despair over an article about the rise in child abuse cases and minutes later I’m crying over decorations I found for my little girl’s birthday party that we had to cancel.  I get sad thinking about the nursing homes, about people who lost their jobs, their retirement, about kids that depend on school for most of their meals, about people that can’t get the medical help they need, about families that will never be the same because of this. I’m sad that my husband is in the next room racking his brain about the decisions he can make to keep his company alive. I’m sad that t-ball, and Bible Study, and family vacations, and Easter plans are cancelled. I’m sad that I can’t HUG MY FRIENDS because I’m from the South and THAT’S WHAT WE DO when things get bad.


Seemingly overnight, I feel like I became a homeschool teacher, a grocery strategist, and a full-time cook. It seems like the housework, the meals, and especially the trash has doubled. The amount of housework I do and the state of my house just doesn’t make sense.

I’m overwhelmed by all the information. The “Daily Schedules”, the suggestions, tips, resources, the ideas of activities to do at home. Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all these things, but when it all hit my Inbox and Newsfeed in the matter of 72 hours, it was just too much. I know that wasn’t what ANY of these posts intended. But remember that feeling when EVERYONE was posting their New Year’s resolution and you got that antsy feeling that you’re sort of an underachiever if you didn’t jump on board? That’s how I feel.  I feel like I’m supposed to be bursting with positivity, a quarantine bucket list, and that my kids are supposed to have a new-found love of crafting all day.

I’m overwhelmed with the needs of my people. All the needs. All the time. With young children, there is just so much physical need. This crisis has definitely revealed selfishness in me, but at the same time there is only so much of myself I can give each day. Regardless of how carefully I plan for downtime, there is always someone that needs to poop, needs to "tell me something", needs a snack, a breathing treatment, a snack, a diaper change, a favorite toy, a snack, a costume Velcro-ed, a snack, a different dose of medicine, a snack, a bath. DID I MENTION A SNACK???!!!

There is always something that needs doing and I finish the day utterly exhausted. To be super honest, (and if you’re a parent, you’ll understand) I’m overwhelmed by not knowing when I will really get a break.  

But ultimately, I’m overwhelmed by this virus in general. I’m overwhelmed by the stats, the precautions, the wiping down of every item that comes through my front door. I feel like my brain is on crisis mode, and I’m anticipating the next announcement, the next move I need to make to be “ready” for the next phase. And that leads me to my next feeling….


I think we could all agree that this is the most uncomfortable feeling in all the world. Being out of control is just against our human nature, period.

I don’t feel in control of hardly anything these days. I have no control over the pandemic. I have no control over some of the heartbreaking situations that I mentioned above. I have no control over ventilator or mask production or toilet paper supply. I have no control over how this could affect my own parents or grandparents. I have no control over how much this will affect our family financially. I have no control over how long this will continue. I have no control over when or if school will start again and apparently, I have no control over my two-year old’s epic tantrums. And even though I take all precautions, I still don’t have complete control over the safety of my family. We could simply go check the mail and be exposed.

But perhaps WORST of all, I have no control over how devastating this will be.  And I think everyone would agree, that is excruciating to think about.

And I think that’s why I broke over a missing ingredient for my pizza dough. The evaporated milk was just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will. I broke over the loss of control. Our homemade pizza party was the one tiny thing I felt like I could control that day to bring joy to the gloom that loomed over us. And I couldn’t even control that.

So where do I go from here? (Because clearly, there is not enough Kleenex in the supply chain to go through a box every day until the end of this crisis.)  I’m no therapist, but boy it certainly felt good to name these feelings and get them out. After I had my little break down, I stumbled upon this article that helped me label my feelings as GRIEF. I never imagined that the diagnosis of grief would be so relieving. It’s like I finally got the green light to grieve all the things I mentioned earlier, even though some may carry more weight than others. I did not think that I, a healthy, non-exposed person who doesn’t live in a high-risk area that has a fully stocked pantry was allowed to grieve. Because, even though it’s well-intentioned, there are people who will say I should be more grateful, that I shouldn’t complain, because “things could be worse.” While I agree that considering those with tougher circumstances can really change your perspective, this can sound really dismissive. And ultimately, if you think about the worst thing you’ve ever been through, if you really stretched your imagination, couldn’t it ALWAYS be worse? If we always operated with this mindset, we would never grieve, and I think we can all agree, that is certainly unhealthy. I fully desire to be someone who is thankful and “joyful despite circumstances”, not fueled by the guilty reminder that “it could be worse.”  It is possible to be counting your blessings yet sad about circumstances at the same time.

The other takeaway from the article is that “Emotions Need Motion”. 

My faith directs me to take all my emotions to The Lord. And I’m telling you, I’ve been praying, I’ve been reading the Bible, I’ve been serving in the places I can, and everything still felt out of reach for lack of better words. I felt like a spinning top, not being able to grasp my focus. From a spiritual perspective, it’s like I just couldn’t “land the plane” on something solid, even though I know where solid ground is.

But on one particular Zoom call this week, someone brought up the verse “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently on Him. (Psalm 37:7.)

Honestly, I’ve read that verse before, but I didn’t even remember that “being still” was an option.  We live in such an instant loving, plan-of-action, self-help culture, and I am the first to admit I fly the “Check that Box” flag proudly. I can handle a situation if you just give me the parameters and a time frame.  But now I realize that my feelings about a global pandemic just can’t be band-aided with positive thinking, a bunch of coffee cup verses, and daily color-coded schedules.

I wish I could say I had some sort of “action plan” now, but I do not. I’m settling on the fact that the motion to my emotions is to just be still. And being still doesn’t mean that I do nothing (I still have a circus to run, folks), nor does it mean that I put blinders on. I can’t dive in to the biblical definition of this (there are much smarter people on this) but from what I can tell, it simply means to stop trying to work things out on your own and listen for God.

There will be days I’ll wake up feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped. There will be days that I totally blow it. I’ll give up trying to create it for myself because after some really long hamster-wheel-spinning days over the past 4 weeks, I realized I can’t do any of it on my own power.

I’ll wait for Him for comfort, for clarity, for physical, mental and emotional strength.  I’m obediently trusting the same God that has been Sovereign since the beginning of time.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10