Updated: Jan 18, 2021
One thing that strikes me about the coronavirus crisis is the drastic difference between each household situation. One family is coasting. Bored, if anything. While the next one is absolutely stressed and drowning.
Here’s what I want you to know if you fall into that second camp. Or even somewhere in the middle.
1) You are not alone. And 2) Compare and despair.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
By the middle of quarantine week #1, I was feeling the heaviness of numerous stories coming my way. It seemed that with every phone conversation, I learned of another intense situation from a loved one.
-A pregnant friend approaching her due date in a state where spouses aren’t allowed in the delivery room. Her husband was developing fever symptoms but they ran out of coronavirus test kits so the situation was up in the air and she was preparing to deliver baby alone.
-A dear friend and mom, recovering from brain surgery, who had to go back to the hospital to fix her meds.
-A breast cancer patient, mom of two, who now had contracted the virus. All of this during a blizzard.
-A mom of 5 whose newborn ended up in the NICU with the baby clearly in pain and they couldn’t figure out why.
-A business owner and mom, whose husband has stage 4 cancer and was about to begin CAR-T therapy. And she had to figure out how to take her business remote - entirely - and take it to a whole different level.
-Two parents, both still working full-time, juggling their little ones and getting their house ready to sell because the photography session got scheduled during quarantine week.
I could keep going. For real.
In the middle of this barrage of news a friend shared that she felt like a failure because she was seeing everyone’s happy homeschooling posts about turning liquid into crystal and making stellar sidewalk chalk drawings. Meanwhile she was just trying to stay afloat with her high pressure job.
Sometimes we just need to know we’re not alone in our struggles. However the coronavirus is affecting you - whether it’s in regard to finances, physical health, increased job stress, job loss, emotional turmoil within the family, frustration over educating kids at home, fear about giving birth without a spouse - you’re in plenty of company. Which, by the way, is the name of my weekly newsletter. Sign up on the home page of my site.
And of course, I can’t wrap up this section without mentioning this truth: you are not alone because you have a God who promises time and again in the Bible that He will never leave your side.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
Now that’s a good word, isn’t it? Other great verses to camp out in: Joshua 1:9; Deuteronomy 31:6; Zepheniah 3:17, Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; Romans 8:38-39.
COMPARE AND DESPAIR
When we lived in Downers Grove, we attended church with Amanda and Skye Jethani, author and podcast host. I remember that Amanda said her husband would tell her “compare and despair.” I personally needed to hear that, as I agonized often over how our house was so small compared to our other friends, how nice everyone else’s cars were, and the list went on.
I never knew if that was a Skye-Jethani-original quote but I do know the general idea is often written about (“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said Teddy Roosevelt), and its theme is woven throughout the Bible.
It is true wisdom to heed.
I share it today to give a word to those of you who are in a really heavy situation that is only intensified by the virus. I know you by name, and I am writing this for you.
Glancing at parts of social media and seeing grownups baking muffins with their kiddos may not be the best thing for your soul. Comparing our lives to others - world crisis or no world crisis - rarely gets us anywhere good. All the more so when our emotions are amplified and anxiety is rising high. So choose carefully who you are in touch with, who you are following, and what messages are coming your way.
Intentionally name what you are doing well right now - you taught your students, you met a work deadline, you showed up for your night shift, you mailed out some face masks, you gave your kids some extra loving after dinner.
And then just stop your trail of thinking and be ok with it. You did a great job.
I write about this and other topics in my weekly newsletter - “You’re In Good Company.” Please sign up on the home page and hear from me each week.