Over the last several months I’ve noticed differences in people. It’s not as black and white as what I’m going to say next, but overall it sums up what I’ve observed. There are two types of people, post-pandemic:
There are people who thrived in 2020 and there are people who were merely surviving.
Want to know which group I’m part of? The latter.
The pandemic life that we were all shuffled into brought loneliness, betrayal, anxiety, loss and missed expectation in my own heart and day to day life. There were good things that happened – we moved back to Wisconsin, moved into a house that we’re still slowly making into a home, we had another healthy baby, met and have become friends with some of the best neighbors. I’m grateful, but I’m also no enemy to grief and hardship.
Within months, I lost friends – deep friendships that I thought would last a lifetime. We lost connection with new neighbors in an unfamiliar neighborhood. We weren’t given eye contact, waving was something of the past, and we could forget about play dates, lunch outings, making friends at the park, hosting dinner parties, flying to see family, taking a bite of food without anxiety rippling up (for the first time ever) about how many doorknobs we’ve touched in a days-span. Can you relate or am I literally the only one?
I cannot, seriously, be the only one.
To say that I was merely surviving the last 2 years is a stretch. And it didn’t even hit me, because this was, indeed, the “new normal,” until December of last year when we got sick. What we also didn’t know then, was that we would be cycling this sickness for 6 months to come. Very few people knew we were battling sickness the first half of this year, it was rounds and rounds of being bed-ridden, feeling too exhausted to nurse my new baby, staying up all night checking Liliana’s fever, and waking up more exhausted than I was going to bed the night before.
Maybe I’ll share more about the ins-and-outs of those 6 months, but for now, all I can muster up to say is that it was tough. It was a season (coming off an already long, isolated season) of confusion and loss. But being within the throes of the “new normal” I was blind to what was happening around me and numb to what I even felt about it.
Have I lost you, in the pit of despair I’m describing that I was being buried in myself? It wasn’t all doom and gloom, but if you look back at my journal you would’ve thought I was on my deathbed. Some days felt like it, with a newborn, a sick toddler, sick husband and a fever myself. If it sounds rough, it was. It felt like a cycling nightmare.
But let me tell you this. Within the pit of sickness, confusion, loss and despair in those 6 months (again, after 48 isolating months), there was light and peace and hope. I have a Light, THE Light, within me reminding me that I am not, and will never be, alone in my suffering. It reminded me during those dark months that there is still something, lotsa things, to be grateful for. Reminding me that with this specific Light, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). And with each new morning, came the reminder that I am still alive. Still breathing and able to serve and show up and give myself to my family and home and neighbors, even with the little bit of energy I had.
Are you, too, familiar with grief and loss, anxiety and loneliness? Depending on where you are in your journey, you might also know that grief and gratitude can, indeed, be held in the same hand.
Let me say that again. Gratitude and grief can live in the same home, in the same heart, all at the same time.
But with loneliness being at a record high, maybe you’re not there yet. You’re still sitting in the pit, feeling alone, desperate and searching (or about to give up). That’s okay, you’re still in good company.
Friend, there is hope. I’m on the breakthrough. And although I’m not totally broken free, I’m on my way, slowly breaking through the cold ground, hardened by a long, cold and desolate winter. And I want to bring you with me because I think it’s important to see someone move through something, not just be on the “other side.” And if you, too, are familiar with grief, there really is no “other side” – grief still exists, but joy is brought alongside it. And when they – grief and joy – are twisted together, they become one of the most powerful pairs known to man.
Grief, when locking hands with joy, is where empathy begins to root, it’s where connection is strengthened, it’s where we feel deeply & heal triuphantly.
This is the place I’m finding myself. Where roots are growing down and little by little, I’m spouting up, becoming unearthed. The brightness of the sunshine is poking through all the cracks and even the slightest feeling of warmth on my bare skin is giving me more hope. More energy and delight moving forward.
Do you know what group you would place yourself in – thriving or surviving? Either way, you’re in good company. There is at least one person in the trenches with you. Hi friend, I’m here. Let’s link arms. I’m here to listen. And if speaking is too much, I’m really good at hugs, or simply sitting with you in the yuck.
Be honest, which group are you part of?