In the introduction to our blog, Wendi and I wrote, “While we continue to celebrate with each other all of the amazing things that happen in our lives, we have found that the times when we most need our friendships is during the unexpected detours that are inevitable in life.” When we wrote these words, we had no idea the level of “unexpected” that was going to impact everyone within just a few months. As all of us continue the rollercoaster of transitioning into an unexpected reality, finding authentic, honest connection remains essential. We hope that the honesty found in the imperfect stories shared on this platform help challenge the isolation that so many of us are now faced with.
My current “unexpected” reality involves sitting at my recently reorganized living room desk, now designed to accommodate my new work-from-home schedule. I have excessive stacks of documents relating to community resources, social skills lessons, and online learning schedules. I even bought a new plant in an attempt to bring a sense of cheer to the space (which I paid for online and had deposited into the trunk of my car at a local garden and gift shop). Sometimes I look at my new arrangement and think: this is going to work. I have what I need and can reach my students and their families either through the internet or by phone. I feel thankful that I can still be a resource for my students even as I am able to spend time with my own kids, keeping them safe at home with me. But, then the mental switch flips and I sit in the same spot while my eyes will fill with tears and the impact of this social distancing overwhelms me. How can I effectively do social work without being “social”? How do I support my own kids and help them learn and feel safe and comfortable while my heart is torn and my nerves are frayed.
My emotions and reactions are often influenced by what I read relating to the ever-changing news. In this time of excessive information and unsolicited advice, I want to remind you that it is okay to look away from it all. It is important to trust your gut and your established self-care routines and approaches to stress management. If watching the news or reading yet another COVID-19 post is adding to your stress rather than helping to subside it, remember that it’s okay to take a break. More importantly, keep in mind your emotions are justified and your reactions are normal just the way they are. If they do not match mine or anyone else’s, it does not mean you or your reactions wrong. It just means that we are all dealing with this unexpected reality in unique ways.
When it comes to riding my own highs and lows of emotions regarding this situation, I recently found some comfort when reading a She Reads Truth devotional accompanying Psalm 116. Psalm 116:5-6: “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and he saved me.” In the devotional, the author wrote, “Sin seems to have hardwired the desire for self-reliance into our DNA. We want to be in control. We want to believe that we’re self-sustaining. But ironically, recognizing our helplessness is the first step to true hopefulness. This counterintuitive reality is woven through the verses of Psalm 116…In his helplessness, the psalmist runs to God. And in God’s presence, he finds hope.” I find comfort in this verse and the reminder to let go of control. Because, in all honesty, this (COVID-19 and social-distancing) isn’t something I can control, and I can not do more than what I can with what I have, where I am at. I have found a true sense of relief in giving my desire to fix this and help everyone to God. God is present in all times, even when I feel helpless, whether I want Him to be with me or not. Remembering this gives me some peace, because I know that He is present in my ups and downs, He is with my students, and He is with all of us, whether we expect Him to be with us or not. It’s with this hope and comfort that I’m trying to refocus my feelings of helplessness to ones of hopefulness, one moment at a time.
I hope that all of you are finding connection and maintaining your own versions of self-care and stress management. I am cheering for you from afar. And even though we are socially distant, we are all still in this together.
Author: Jessica is a wife, mom, school social worker, and aspiring writer. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.