Life as we've known it has changed in a big way in just a few short days. I've seen an abundance of positive social media posts aimed at getting people to look at the bright side, keep the faith, laugh, make the most of it, and on and on. I am so grateful for these positive and encouraging messages and for those who are taking the time to put them out there. These are helping us keep a sense of community while our communities are all but shattered.
Me personally, I've been in a different place - I am not okay. My world is kind of upside-down, and I have felt pretty sad about it. I wonder if any of you are feeling the same way too.
Before the pandemic life-changer, I was already walking the high-wire as a full-time, rotating-shift-working-in-the-stressful-public-safety-arena single mom. What that means is that I'm about as far from being a "Pinterest Mom" as it gets. During normal times, we survive by the grace of God and with the help of some awesome people He put in our lives. Now my kids are home-bound indefinitely, while I continue to have to physically go to work. Day one of said home-boundness (I made it up, okay?), my daughter attempted to cook and watch TV at the same time and nearly set my kitchen on fire. That was a bit discouraging to watch through a camera from over 30 miles away. And homeschooling? Yeah, about that... The point is, the little shard of routine that I so desperately cling to to help manage all of the moving parts was blown to smithereens this week - and for the foreseeable future. I've been blindsided with grief over this.
My church made the decision to shut its doors this past Sunday. This - this has crushed my bones. (I offer no criticism about the incredibly difficult decisions that are having to be made, only support and prayers on our elders' behalf for wisdom.) I love my church so much. Over the years, I've built friendships that have become like family to me. Literally, the only reason that I live where I live is because of my church. Seeing and interacting with my small group, my Bible study ladies, my Lord's Supper crews, and my Wednesday night youth folks - this carries me through the high-wire walk that is my life. They are the hands and feet and arms and smiles of Jesus to me and my family. The loss of connection with my people feels like someone very close to me has died.
This morning I awoke to the news that a well-known pastor of a local church passed away suddenly yesterday. A very good friend of mine is a member of that church, so it feels kind of close to home. This loss would be devastating to the community and to that church on any normal day. But today? It's unimaginable. His family, his church, his community will all have to grieve and mourn outside of the presence of one another. All around our communities, our country, the world, this is the reality - death takes no breaks. Talk about loss stacked upon loss. My heart aches all the more. Tears are easy to summon this week.
Am I alone?
My intent is not to bring you down. If you're adjusting well and not experiencing much loss, then I thank God for that! But I want you to know that if you're experiencing the very real loss of human contact, financial stability, readily available food, community, being able to work in peace, your livelihood, a loved one in particular, plans, dreams, events, or whatever it may be in this bizarre and unpredictable time -you are not alone. Mourning is a normal part of the human experience, and it's okay.
Even further, as believers, we're called to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). Jesus gave us a great example of this during His first tour on earth. Jesus' friend Lazarus became ill and died. When Jesus returned to Lazarus' town in the wake of his death and encountered Lazarus' grieving sisters (also His friends), He wept. He wept even when He knew He was going to resurrect the guy moments later. He was present with His friends in the midst of their grief and loss. (You can read the whole story in John 11:1-44.)
We know that this life is short, and Jesus is coming back (soon!), and we all have so much to be thankful for, etc., etc., etc. These truths are encouraging, but they don't replace our God-given need to mourn and be comforted by those who mourn with us. I'm with you, friends. What losses can I mourn with you today?