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Checking In

“Do you ever feel sad and mad and happy and frustrated all at the same time, Mama?”

My eight (and a half) year old posed this question to me sometime during the first couple weeks of this whole situation our state/country/world finds itself currently in. I’ve always felt he was a bit of an old soul with his ability to recognize his own and other people’s emotions fairly quickly.

“Absolutely, buddy,” I responded. “I feel that way right now.”

It’s safe to say that many of us have felt that way sometime during these last two months. Why wouldn’t we? That event is cancelled, yet we’re healthy. That business closed down, yet we’ve received unexpected time with our family. Speaking of family, extra time with family is not always a positive for some people. “Home” is not always synonymous with “safety” and “peace”. We’re pushed into these situations for the greater good, yet it’s not necessarily good for you or for your neighbor or for your friend.

So...yes. It is ABSOLUTELY normal and healthy to be feeling all of these emotions. None of us have ever experienced something like this before. While your emotions may be normal, this situation is anything but. Humankind was not created to live in isolation, in fear, with paranoia. A Bible verse that has been stuck in my head is John 10:10 - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” God and I had a moment with this verse a couple weeks ago. The school where my youngest attends preschool had a “drive through & pick up your kid’s final things” morning (everything was outside and only one person was out of their vehicle at a time). As I pulled out of the parking lot, tears started to fall with the realization that my visit that day was probably the final time I would be at that school. Our youngest is transferring to our oldest son’s school in the fall and after five important years there (between our two boys), our time there is done. Just like that. The unfairness of it all hit me. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, God. Why is this happening? I hate this! This is not how you created us to live. I don’t understand. It’s not fair.” My faith in God has not lessened, but I have certainly had many moments of confusion lately.

Let me take a moment to acknowledge the phrase I have heard many times--”Same storm, different boats.” The things I am grieving in this season may be different and less severe than what you are grieving. There are much more life-altering things happening than the abrupt end to our time at a school we loved. I absolutely get that. There are people in boats that are far more precarious and scary and unfair than my boat. But….I don’t think that means I am not allowed to be upset or feel sadness from the situation that is applicable to me. And the same goes for you. You are allowed to be upset or feel sadness for the situation that you find yourself in. What we are NOT allowed to do is let our sadness or fear or anger control our lives. Easier said than done, right? For example, I hate having to wear a mask. Something about it triggers my anxiety and I find myself on the verge of a panic attack when I wear one. So I started listening to music and podcasts during my grocery shopping trips as a distraction. I still don’t like it, but it gets me out of my head and focused on something positive. What sorts of things are you doing to make the best of this less than ideal situation? I’d love to hear!

My conversation with my son has become an ongoing one. “How are you feeling today? Today was tough for me.” “How does it make you feel when you see your classmates on the computer?” “I’m feeling grumpy today. I’m sorry.” I’m ready for all of this to be done, but I also think it’s given us a great opportunity to recognize what we need and desire for being mentally & emotionally healthy individuals and communities. Check in on your friends. Check in on your kids and your partner. Check in on your community. We all need it right now---and always.

We’re going to make it through this. I know we will.

(Plus my Meijer had toilet paper for the first time in six weeks, so that has to be a sign of good things to come.)

Until next time.