Thursday, April 16, 2020

This Was Not Our Plan

I have wanted to write a blog post about how I feel about everything going on in the “new normal” with the pandemic: homeschooling with Digital Learning days, running our business, not being around friends and family like normal, and feeling isolated. With this post, I’d like to share my struggles, relate to other people’s struggles, and,  in the end, offer encouragement about how myself and my family are coping and finding joy amid all the uncertainty.  So… stick with me to the end!

First off, our world, and we, will never be the same…  We will never go back to the way things were before all this happened.  We are all forever changed, together. Change is typically gradual, but these are the most dramatic changes anyone in this lifetime has ever experienced.  This was not our plan.

Our mindset, our lives, our businesses, the way we work, our children and their perspectives, our healthcare, the way we shop, and the way we think about our personal health... They all will continue to change. This was not our plan.

It’s all stressful, and sometimes it’s even overwhelming. My personal struggles are unique and yours are too, but we all have challenges. We must find new ways to connect, communicate, work, educate our kids and ourselves, travel (for work or pleasure), attend faith gatherings, and nourish our souls. This was not our plan.

During all of this we still have celebrations and life events that we would love to share with our family and friends.  I have a few friends who are pregnant and are unable to have baby showers. Babies being born and limited people able to be in the delivery rooms. Then families can’t physically share the joy of their new baby with their loved ones.  I know people who have recently gotten married with only 10 people present, or over Skype.  Graduations that are on hold and hopefully rescheduled. Birthday parties that can’t be celebrated as they normally would (I have seen people have a drive by/parade birthday party). But this was not our plan.

On the other side of that, we have sad events that must be faced without support. For those who pass away, there are all the people who can’t physically show support for families in mourning.  We have people in hospitals, treatment facilities, and nursing homes who can’t have any visitors and must face their trials alone.  This was not our plan.

Then there is everything going on with the economy, our personal lives, work lives, and the way it affects us and our families.  So many people are out of work and many businesses may not survive. There is the government stimulus package with all the programs to help businesses and sole proprietors, but it may not be enough or in time, before everything is devastated. It may all be too little too late. This was not our plan.

Then we have “essential businesses” that have workers who are on the front lines, who are at risk of getting sick, but who put the public ahead of themselves. All these people are the heroes to Keep America Moving, fed, and cared for during this time of struggle, and safe in cases of danger. We are forever grateful for all these heroes. They chose these fields, but this was not their plan.

So many people are now working from home.  While there are advantages to this, working from home can be extremely isolating when you are used to having coworkers and your whole business together day to day.  Couples that are not used to being around each other 24/7 but now are because they are both home.  This can be a huge challenge to a relationship and can easily put added stress on any family. A lot of people also have the added pressure and stress of kids being at home... all the time... without any help.  They are having to help their children with digital learning possibly without the tools or technology to help them succeed. This can add an enormous stress to any family. So, we are working full time, homeschooling, and being a stay at home parent, all at the same time. This was not our plan.

Frankly it is just all too much… It is too much, without Jesus. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I think that is a bunch of BS. God gives us more than we can handle, so we lean into and turn to Him. Give it to God.  Give all of it and all of your struggles to God.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

God will take care of us. This is one of my favorite illustrations when Jesus talks about not worrying:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?... 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-27, 34 NIV

God has a plan for you! This is not our plan, but it is God’s.  He can use everything for His good.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

We all are navigating various hardships but there is hope! We all have a choice on how we react, what we do, how we find comfort, and our self-care during all the uncertainty.

We can also try our best to appreciate this time and be thankful for what we do have. Family time. Time to enjoy nature. Time to finally clean out that closet, or room, or attic that we’ve been talking about cleaning out for years. Time to love on our pets. Time to find new hobbies, or delve into old ones that have been taken a back-burner to life. Teach our kids new hobbies or life skills: cook, clean, sew, quilt, knit, garden, paint, puzzles, build, draw, write, run, etc. Call that childhood friend who you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Call distant relatives, check-in, see how they are doing. Those who can give/donate/create can help those who are struggling. It’s time to relearn what being neighborly is. It’s time to look out for each other. Be there when we can be, even if it’s at a distance. This was not our plan, but let’s come out of this together as a better community.

Here are some practical things I am doing to stay encouraged and positive:
1. Getting outside for exercise: walking trails and hiking, walking around our neighborhood with a friend socially distant, 6 feet apart.

2. Virtual conversations: video calls with friends, for work, and our Church Small Group. I also watch online church services through North Point Ministries and Woodstock City Church

3. Eating nutritious meals and taking vitamins: I have started having a fruit smoothie with almond milk and spinach. I really like a prenatal vitamin (No, I am not currently nor am I trying to get pregnant!!), vitamin D (we all probably have a deficiency), and vitamin C.  I also sometimes take fish oil and a great probiotic as well.

5. Praying! Praying alone. Praying with my family. Praying with my husband. Praying with our son. Praying with my friends. Reading my Bible every day.  Finding things to thank God for and appreciating the blessings we do have.

We will get through this, together. Let’s pray to God about a new plan and then accept what happens by moving forward as best we can. This is God’s plan.

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. 
-Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)

Here are websites to organizations doing great work:
Atlanta Mission, Ending Homelessness

Contributing writer Chrissie G. Thank you!!