A sweet young mom looked at me and confessed, “This has been one of the darkest times of my life.” I had just participated on a panel of mentor moms talking to moms of little ones at our church. This sweet friend proceeded to tell me the struggles she has been facing due to the effects of COVID. My heart hurt for her as I sensed her pain and isolation.
I belong to a Facebook group that serves teachers who are trying to find other careers. One mom wrote how she has a toddler, is pregnant, has extra responsibilities with her teaching job due to COVID and she is drowning. “What can I do to relieve the stress?” she implored.
A dad of three confessed to me recently that he has sought counseling for the first time in his life. A strong man of faith, the increased isolation and uncertainty of the time is getting to him. He needs a safe place to process.
This Tuesday I have the pleasure of being a guest speaker for a MOPS group in Michigan. The theme I’m supposed to talk about is Be Strong. What a timely theme! It seems there is much to fear right now. Life can leave us feeling pretty weak right now when even going to the grocery store is a more difficult task. I still find empty shelves for things I need and I realize I’m using more brain power in order to check all of the items off of my list. I read recently that living in a pandemic is similar to visiting another culture. Rhythms we once held for common tasks are thrown off kilter so we really do have to think harder these days.
Each of the people above made some good choices. The first realized something needed to change and started focusing on self-care, which included simple things like connecting with a friend. The second mom reached out to ask advice and people responded with some great ideas. The dad I talked to was right on track by recognizing he needed some professional intervention. Sometimes being strong is best accomplished by admitting we need help.
I have undoubtedly had worse years in my personal life than 2020. This year has been a breeze for me compared to a couple in my past. For some, this is most certainly one of the worst. I do worry a bit as we enter the winter months. I always find it harder to regulate my mood during the coldest season. I’ve coped well the last several months by hiking and spending a lot of time outdoors. As that gets a little harder/less enjoyable to do, I’ll have to be more creative and intentional.
Don’t be afraid to communicate your struggles to your spouse, a friend, or a counselor. So many are fighting tooth and nail to remain positive. If you find yourself there, you are certainly not alone.
I was recently reminded of how God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert one day at a time. God asked them to depend on Him for what they needed just for the day. Any extra gathered would rot. In my darkest times I have found it best to focus on the present. The future might seem terrifying, but God can give us what we need just for the moment. Devoting energy to troubling thoughts is just like rotting manna. As Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”