Thursday I cried. These were the tears that threatened to fall for weeks. But because of busy-ness, preparations and doing all the things to meaningfully connect in the age of social distancing, they hadn’t had a chance to break free.
Sure, there were moments in the weeks before that made my eyes water. Though there were moments that I’d get choked up, I was able to keep the tears in check. There were times that the reality of our now and whatever the future may hold made me wonder, question, strategize and do. But the time to just be, sit in the fullness of what our world is experiencing, as well as what that means for my loved ones and what it means for me, I hadn’t fully taken. Until Thursday night.
The stillness and silence of my apartment, which usually provides solace and a haven for creativity to spring forth, turned on me. The sound of nothing was no longer my friend. It became my mirror. It was a mirror that I’d identified early on. I knew the pandemic would hold up, again and again.
See, I realized at the beginning of the US outbreak that we all would have ample opportunity to come face-to-face with some of the most basic aspects of who we are and what we’ve been masking (perhaps for years) for the sake of being productive, contributing citizens. Even before we were limiting the amount of folks at gatherings and teleworking became the norm, I was very clear that loneliness was going to be my elephant in the room. I knew it was a reality I would need to process and become comfortable being awkward and vulnerable in. But I wasn’t fully willing to “go there”.
Funny thing is, it doesn’t really matter to God if you are ready to deal with things or not. When it is time, it is time. We can let him lead us through it, go in kicking and screaming, or run away (which only delays the inevitable).
On Thursday night, my first inclination was to swallow hard and push the emotions down. (I’m pretty good at that, unfortunately.) My smarter-self, yielded to the tears. They flowed.
I cried for our world. The death. The sickness. The fear. The uncertainty. The singular thing that has seemed to unite us, or at least expose our commonalities. This pandemic.
I cried for our nation. The folks risking their lives to practice their craft and care for those that need it. The leaders making decisions and trying to lead through something they were never really trained for. The businesses shutting down. The individuals without jobs. The kids and families adapting to a new way of life. The families separated by distance, whether by six feet, glass doors and windows, miles or oceans. Families in the same home separated by anger, hurt, betrayal, or abuse.
I cried for our health. Our physical health. Our mental health. Our financial health. Our spiritual health. Our emotional health. Our relational health.
I cried for what was.
I cried for what is.
I cried for what could be.
Then, I cried for myself. I was lonely. Because when the day’s work is done, when the video chats, Facebook lives, Zoom parties and game nights and coaching sessions ended, the reality was there. Let’s be real, it never left. I was just good at ignoring it, accepting it or lessening it. But on Thursday night, it was time to just sit with it.
I’m prone to jumping straight to solutions, finding new projects to create or angles to explore. Although I was tempted, I resisted. I just sat in it…for a while.
I named the sadness.
I was sad…
- For myself – because the simple realization that I hadn’t hugged anyone in almost 3 weeks was real. The thought of not being closer than 6 feet to another person again for who knows how long, that messed me up…
- For my community – the “new normal” characterized on one hand by kindness, generosity and optimism and on the other by cynicism, racism, hatred and fear.
- For my country – where so many are unemployed or underemployed, the needs outweigh the resources and every city, town and municipality must respond
- For the world – that is forever changed, yet in the hands of the One who doesn’t change.
So, I sat in my tears and cried out to the only one that I knew that could handle my grief. (And yours, too.) He sat with me in the messiness of my tears. With each passing minute, He stayed. Not to fix it, at least not right away. But, in the honest, transparent and vulnerable display of lament and release, He sat with me and cared for this lonely heart in a way no one else could.
Moods can change daily. Who am I fooling? They can change hourly. And though sometimes they can be improved with exercise, talking to others, reading scripture, blasting some good music, praying or journaling, in that moment all I needed was space. Space to feel, to release, to just sit in it. The sadness lingered. As peace and hope and joy increased, the sadness diminished.
Sometimes that change may happen in a matter of minutes. Or, it could take days. Maybe longer. I appreciated having sense enough to first sit in it, and then move through it with Him.
We each are on a dynamic roller coaster of emotions characterized by an unprecedented time of uncertainty, death and rapid change. Thus, these feelings are likely to come back. The beauty of it for me is that leaning in and opening yourself up to the discomfort of it all can be freeing. I’d much rather start the work of processing these emotions as they come instead of finding the full load of unaddressed “things” manifesting themselves decades later in uglier and less healthy ways.
This is a really hard time for each us. I’m just glad that He’s here, willing to sit with, walk alongside and lead us through it. Just like he always does.
That is, if we let Him.