Well, here we are friends. Over 40 days into self-isolation and social distancing and I both can’t believe it’s been that long and yet it also feels like it’s flown by somewhat. The days are long but the weeks/months feel short. I mean, May is next week!
I’ve caught myself taking a sort of emotional inventory this week and to be honest, it’s stirred up quite a bit. A month ago now, the Harvard Business Review posted an article titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” and full transparency, I didn’t really read it at the time it was published. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t fully experiencing that “discomfort” yet at the time, but I just kind of shoved it to the back of my mind. But now, on week six of this, I found myself drawn back to it.
The truth is friends, we are all experiencing grief right now to varying degrees. All of us. And to be honest, it feels a little strange to give it that name – at least for me. Even at 28, I’m learning that maybe I didn’t know grief as well as I thought I did. Or least not this particular type of grief.
From December 2013 to February 2016, grief was something that I was confronted by on a daily basis. My father was battling a newly diagnosed autoimmune condition, work was beyond stressful, and I kept losing family members way too close together. The trauma of all of that meant I knew grief all too well. But this here? This feeling surrounding COVID-19? That’s a grief I’m not familiar with. I don’t think any of us are.
The truth that I am realizing, and grieving, is that we aren’t meant to live in this kind of reality. And our bodies know it, hence the feelings of exhaustion that many of us struggling with. Curt Thompson recently shared this in a blog post, “God made our bodies as part of what it means for us to be human, and much like asking someone to breathe air that is only 15% oxygen instead of the normal 20%, we’re asking our bodies to do things they were not made to do.”
We weren’t made to do life like this. We weren’t made to stay in our homes and interact with others through a computer screen. We weren’t made to keep our children out school, away from teachers and friends, learning in front of screens that we know isn’t beneficial for them long-term for months and months. We weren’t made to stay six feet away from those we love the most.
We were made for connection. Real, authentic human interactions. We were made for tender embraces and for a comforting touch. We were made to experience joy, love, hope, laughter, and life with other people.
In a lot of ways, it just feels like we are living out a sort of “tangible” picture of the Gospel. We weren’t created by God to live in a broken, fallen world. We did that. We were made to live in unity with Him, not separately from Him nor from others around us. It’s a reality that many of us tend to forget or ignore most days but here we are, confronted by this realization that we are living our lives in a way that is contrary to the way it’s really meant to be.
This grief is from the knowledge that it’s not supposed to be this way and there is very little we can do to change that.
I don’t have all of the answers here, not even close. As a pretty optimistic person more often than not, these days feel like that optimism of mine is just trying to keep its head above water here. But when I look at Scripture, I see that there is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. [Ecclesiastes 3].
Though it may be a time to mourn, my faith in the One who writes all stories tells me that there will be dancing one day. Together. There will be laughter in our homes and in our neighborhoods. There will be embracing and healing and mending. And while I may want those things now, I trust the Lord to provide. To sustain and to teach and to grow us in this current time.