It’s been a minute since I wrote anything for anything other than work. To be honest, I’ve never felt less qualified to share wisdom/insight/anything in my whole life. Why? Because I’m 100% NOT rocking this COVID home-school, work from home, social distancing life. (Ok, yes, I am rocking the social distancing – it may surprise you to learn that I am, in fact, an introvert, and this time has given me a golden opportunity to polish my inner hermit).
I always said, even long before I had children, that home-schooling was my idea of a nightmare. Even so, I kind of thought, somewhere in the back of my hopeatorium, that actually I would discover a natural aptitude for it and find out that it’s surprisingly rewarding. Well that bubble has been well and truly popped. I hate it. I actually hate it. There’s not many things I hate – that awful yawn-sigh people do, reggae music, loud eating noises (I should probably just get permanent earplugs) – but home-schooling is right up there.
The thing that’s so difficult, is that because those of us here in our part of the States have had the kiddos home for a solid 8 months now, my margins are paper thin. I normally gird my loins for the 3-month summer break, and begin to morph into Harriet the Haggard by the end. And this is 2.5 summers, with no clear end in sight.
When we have no margins is when issues that we are able to keep below the surface with rest, regular moments of respite, relaxation, socialisation etc. rear their ugly heads. For me, this means that I revert to my inner child a lot of the time.
The little girl that wanted to please the teacher and gain her constant approval, is now the parent of a kiddo whose schooling she is overseeing, and she really wants her kid to do well in order to appease her quest for affirmation.
The little girl that learned it was desperately important to get things done within a self-imposed timeframe, is now trying to force a seven-year-old to finish up his schoolwork within the same arbitrary window of time.
With the constant stress and pressure of life here in US right now, it feels like every unhealed part of my soul and every unchallenged erroneous belief is simultaneously running the show and beating me up.
So friends, if you’re feeling like me right now – and I know so many of you are, let’s join hands and start to do the things we need to get through this very challenging phase. For some of us, we really need to ease up on ourselves and our kiddos. For others of us, we need to choose a daily rhythm at this time that allows for a lot of extra space. Maybe we need to call a friend just to tell them that we’re not okay. Maybe we need to choose a regular meditation/prayer practice. Maybe we need to go for a walk around the block every day. Maybe we need to stop and realise that although no-one (except maybe the tech gods) are winning in the shit-show that is 2020, we are learning lessons and facing trials that have the potential to forge gold within us.
So, to all the other fellow humans in the trenches right now (even those with their masks under their noses), I give you my biggest smize, and raise my arm in a weary salute to you. You are loved, you are not alone, and you’re going to get through this. And so will I – albeit with a new cavernous depth to the frown lines between my eyebrows.
Love you friends,
Before the world went nutso grando, I was all set to embark on the next glorious phase of my life; Mason was enrolled in daycare three mornings a week, I had taken on 17 hours a week of writing for Thinkladder (which BTW is excellent, and free, and you should probs download ASAP), Judah was at school every day, and I was enjoying working at my local Starbucks several mornings a week, sipping my coffee and being child-free and all profesh.
Now, my dreams of freedom have imploded on themselves, and I have not one, but TWO little boys at home, and I have to try and navigate 17 hours of writing while forcing my reticent-Reginald to do his schoolwork. All that to say, you can see why it’s been a hot minute since I wrote anything…
But here we are, and while I’ve had a few thoughts over the past six weeks, there are none that I can be bothered putting into one cohesive blog, so let me treat you to my COVID ramblings – a mishmash of the infancy of several of my musings of late:
I really don’t like online church. Please hear me out – I am fully committed to always being a part of the church, I used to work for the church and would like to again one day, but one thing that I have had significant struggle with is the performance aspect of church; that haunting feeling that we’re putting on a show to appease aspects of people’s spirituality, without asking them to engage in a way pushes them toward discomfort and spiritual growth. Online church feels like the epitome of performance church. I know pastors are just trying to do their best, and do what they can at this time – this is in no way a criticism of these beautiful people that are just doing their best – it is, however, a series of questions for the church as a whole…what is the church really meant to look like? When we remove the queen from the chessboard (Sunday Services), how does the game get played in a functional and healthy way? How are we reaching, engaging and discipling people in an authentic and meaningful way outside of Sunday? Has Sunday become a giant crutch, bearing more of the load than it was ever meant to carry?
Another of my COVID musings is to do with facemasks…or rather the way they smell. Or perhaps, more correctly, the way my breathe smells in one. It took me about three weeks of shopping in a face mask to discover that the funny (not bad, just a bit odd) smell in my face mask wasn’t the mask, or even my breath…it was my NOSE! Did you know your nose has a smell? I can’t think about it too much or it makes me queasy. And if it’s made you queasy too, my humble apologies.
And along with thoughts on sinus scents and the church as a gathering, I’ve been giving some thought to my personal faith journey also. I have been on a journey of deconstruction of my faith for around 10 or more years. It was a necessary journey, but funnily enough, I’ve almost come full circle in my conclusions of so many things regarding faith, but I kind of needed to unpack everything to understand properly how it goes back together. When the pandemic started getting serious, it really struck me that in times of crisis, it really forces you to face the pointy end of your faith. Questions like, ‘Where am I going when I die?’, and ‘Do I really trust God with my life?’ are shoved in one’s face, and there remains in that moment not much room for ethereal armchair theologising. I have, along with my love of puzzles and desire to rollerblade, discovered the more simple, anchoring faith of my childhood that puts my hand in the hand of Jesus.
So there you go friends, there’s some thoughts for ya. Caleb always tells me that my mind is a scary place, so I hope you enjoyed a few minutes holiday in Debsville (since you can’t go anywhere else right now). I genuinely hope that you’re doing okay, and please feel free to message me if you’d like someone to pray for you.
Love you friends,
Frankly, being in the middle of a pandemic is really bizarre. I vacillate between, ‘It’s totally fine, it’s just the flu, we’re all going to be fine,” to envisioning life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I begin chastising myself that we didn’t buy a 5-acre self-sustaining plot instead of this suburban dwelling where, if we had to live off the land, we’d probably survive three days on dead grass and the scraps of decaying afternoon snacks left behind by the boys.
I haven’t succumbed to the bunker mentality…yet, but I must admit, while I haven’t stockpiled the loo paper, I would be lying if I said I didn’t add a few extra cans of beans and some hand sanitiser to this week’s shopping list (if we do end up having to live off what’s in our cupboards, let’s just say the meals are going to get less and less yummy by the day).
I experience a level of generalised anxiety on a day-to-day basis, due to varying factors, and this situation has definitely turned the volume up, as I’m sure it has for many of you. And while I can remind myself that this is unlikely to take my family out, and we’ll survive the economic fallout as we have before, the reality is that a worse case scenario is always a possibility.
What amazes me in situations like this, is how it highlights where my trust truly lies. It first came to my attention five years ago when we first moved to the States; I was thrown off-balance by realising that my safety-net of a familiar government that would take care of me if I was in hospital or we lost our income, was no longer underneath me. I was forced to intentionally put my days in the hands of God – a place where I had previously thought they were.
Once again, I find myself feeling off-balance. The comfort of relying on the conveniences and necessities that I do everyday suddenly seems less certain. The assumption that all is well, is, well, not so well.
I like to picture it like sonar – I go through life sending out pings and getting my equilibrium from hearing the reassuring returning sounds from the places I expect things to be. When all is as I expect it to be, I swim through life with a sense of safety and certainty. But in times this like, it becomes all too clear that my requirement for peace relies heavily on external things – the certainty of health, ready access to food and utilities, a guaranteed paycheck.
I hear an invitation in the midst of all this uncertainty. It’s an invitation to surrender. An invitation to relinquish control – the control which feels so important for my survival, but in reality, is only an illusion. An invitation to remember that a certain quality or length of life on earth has never been promised. An invitation to remember that my hope lies in eternity. An invitation to remember that Jesus sits right beside me as I type this, and his love and presence is as close as it ever was. An invitation to accept the unknown.
So, if you’re cool-as-a-cucumber and feeling not a worry, good for you. But if you’re a red-hot mess quivering in your apocalypse shelter, maybe, just maybe, something really beautiful can come out of this for you. Maybe this is the start of a peace you never knew was possible. So why not join me as I pray, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Love you friends,