While distracted with self-congratulation over my general lack of fear in the face of this pandemic, I was shocked to discover that I am at my worst right now. Like a ninja it came out of nowhere and has left me knocked down seeing stars. I guess pride will blind you like that.
While the above verse is true, and praise God for it, being “pressed on every side by troubles” can cause the worst parts of me to start to ooze out. Earmarked each year by spring clicking over to summer, the worst parts of me tend to come out when structure changes, often when there is a lack of it, namely school ending. I thrive on structure, planning, and order and all is right when the world is in it with me.
The school year brings relief to my soul because we are all collectively on a similar schedule. When summer hits, many families don’t have one at all. They do fun things, they relax, spend the day outside, etc. This leaves me, working full time and doing business as usual with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and feeling like a bad parent. Without the structure of school, my kids stay up later, sleep in longer, and have a different eating schedule; meaning when my husband and I are off work, ready to eat dinner, they are not having just eaten a late lunch at 3pm. Without structure, I tend to feel out of control which spirals me into trying to control others.
With the world currently turning upside down, and the kids being home before I am mentally prepared for it, I am struggling. Having already controlled what I can, my emergency supply of food and toilet paper, I have moved on to my family. Everything in me needs them to be on some kind of schedule and I cannot figure out why. I have been working from home for over a week now observing their shift to unstructured living and it is driving me insane. I don’t know what to do about it.
Without TV, my only window to the outside world is Google and social media. Seeing all the cool things parents are doing with their kids to make this time easier for them makes me feel like I am not doing a good enough job. I am seeing nature walks, creative homeschooling, art projects, cooking, and scavenger hunts. I am also seeing pastors and ministry leaders leaning into loving others in unique ways leaving me feeling like I need to do more to help in that endeavor.
Cut to me teleworking at home full time with work that is more challenging than it ever has been, requiring a mental sharpness that I don’t have right now. Every hour or so, I am out of my office, nagging a child to do their chores or school work. By the end of the day, I am exhausted and irritable. This last week I could hardly face making dinner with a good attitude. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and binge watch New Girl but I didn’t. I made dinner or we ate leftovers together if I couldn’t face cooking and we even did Pastor Kyle’s bible study together a couple of times.
As an introvert, everything in me wants to default to hiding out. I want to do what is easy even while I want to control. I want to self-protect, which for me looks like isolating even more. It looks like disengaging even more and retreating into myself. I have prayed to God to help me choose life and people and I have done that about 50% of the time. While I have retreated in some ways, I made myself reach out in others, like praying for people, calling family, or reaching out to neighbors to see if they need anything. It’s hard though and it’s a battle.
This quote from Brene Brown speaks to how I have been behaving but also what I have seen in others around me and on social media:
This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other. ~Brene Brown
Turns out, it is not the fear that is trying to take me down right now, it’s uncertainty. As a person who thrives on planning and structure, I now know I have been struggling in getting my footing in the face of uncertainty for a while now. With our family business closed as of December 31, my husband not having a stable job, and now the pandemic, uncertainty is as close to me as a brother. I lost my footing at the end of last year and have not been able to get it back. I want and crave to see my path laid out in front of me. I want my husband to have a good paying and, most importantly, stable job. I want to see my senior girls go to prom and graduate high school. I want to see my talented son perform in Fiddler on the Roof this spring…but life has been interrupted. None of that is assured. The stable, structured path before us has disappeared.
I don’t know what to do with uncertainty. I guess I have a couple of choices, I can default to self-protection which for me is isolating even more, numbing out with Netflix, and controlling others or, I can choose to let all that go focusing everything in me on God instead, the One who knows what is coming next, the One who is certain.
It’s in the pressing that I have a decision to make, am I going to let the worst parts of me take over or turn to God for help? Make no mistake, it is a decision. I have done this well 50% of the time this week because I decided to ask Him for help and let Him guide me even when I didn’t feel like it. When we decide to turn to God and ask Him to help us, He does because He is powerful and has promised to help us. He gives us what we need in that moment or for that day. If we go back one verse to 2 Corinthians 4:7, it states,
We are human and in the pressing, our humanness tends to come out, generally our worst parts, but we have access to God’s all surpassing power. He can help us. Like 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, we will be hard pressed on every side but not crushed. We will be perplexed but won’t be driven to despair. We will get knocked down but not destroyed.
This gives me hope because while I am being pressed on every side by troubles, giving into the weight of it lately, it won’t crush me. I have been knocked down by it but will get back up because God will help me if I decide to let Him.
Great job! You are so honest about your feelings and fears and that I think is half the battle. Press in and let God handle the load. I have always been one who likes order and problems figured out and how I will handle each situation. Through my surgery and now this virus situation I found out I’m pretty helpless without leaving my thoughts and troubles with Jesus. Each day is a challenge and I have determined it’s going to be a good one. Maybe not exactly how I would like it but making the choice each morning that my day is going to be okay and not letting the “what ifs” take over has helped. Am praying for you. Love you, Billie
Great advice Billie! Thank you! I am doing better this week at letting God handle the load. Hopefully, I can continue. Thank you for your prayer. It means a lot to me.
Oh this was so good and thank you for sharing it with us. I too am a structured person and like that lifestyle. I think it comes from me being born into a big family with lots of children. Our lifestyle was very chaotic and very unstructured. Every summer starting at a young age the four oldest of us were sent to the farm of my grandparents to spend the summer. We learned to work at an early age. I was nine and my sister Bonnie was eight. We spent six days a week picking raspberries, strawberries, cucumbers, and beans for eight hours a day. My grandmother was a very structured person and everyday you knew what was happening on that particular day of the week. I thrived in that atmosphere and picked up on her habits. So I totally relate to what you said Michel. At the beginning of this situation we are in I too shut down. The worst part was the not knowing. As time has gone on and I prayed about it I decided that I should give all my feelings about it to God because in case we forget and other people do not get it God is still in control and we can rest in His loving arms and let Him carry the burden. We can still praise Him and spend time with Him and love Him for all He has done for us, and His faithfulness to us. He has the grand plan and He doesn’t need us to worry or try to figure it all out . I thank God that He is a God of order. I love that. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His Glory and Grace. Love you.
Thank you for sharing that Linda! So good and so true! We can remember His faithfulness and praise Him for what He has done for us in the past. That is how we know we can trust Him with an unknown future. You are right. He has a grand plan and we don’t need to try to figure it all out.
I absolutely love your blog post!! You’re so real and raw! I can relate on so many levels! God has a plan and we just need to trust him even more during these crazy times. You’re so talented, thank you for sharing ❤️
Thank you Porcia!
I appreciate that you share real feelings. I struggled with this to a great degree for a long time. I got to a point where I knew I couldn’t do that anymore and have any kind of happiness. Little by little I began to try to see what God was doing in each situation. I realized He knew things I didn’t know. I began to relax and enjoy the changes. It took time. I still like order, but it isn’t as important to me. I will be praying for you. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing that Jan. It is good advice to try to see what God is doing in each situation and that he is bigger. It gives me hope to know that it can get better over time. Thank you for praying! I really appreciate that!