What do we do when our normal is challenged? Do we rise above the circumstances of that which is challenging us or do we falter, crumble, and begin to fall apart? Not that these are the only two responses, but they seem to be opposite ones that I most struggle against when things change in ways I couldn’t have predicted and certainly didn’t want.
Right now, everyone’s normal is being challenged. Challenged in ways we could have never predicted, expected, or planned for. How are we handling this challenge? Honestly, each day is a difference reaction for me. Some days I feel like I respond appropriately and I manage the challenge and the change with dignity. Other days, I feel like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum because I am being inconvenienced. The reality is much bigger than that, but at the same time it isn’t that complicated. For most part, not much has changed for me and my family. The biggest and most obvious change is the kids are at home and Ronda and I are also at home. All. The. Time. Both of us are lucky enough to have jobs which are considered to be essential, and to have jobs which allow us to work remotely. Work-wise neither one of us has slowed down at all. In some ways, Ronda is slightly more busy putting out fires and running damage control on her cases. Me? Hammering on my computer, doing to office work portion of my job and then heading out to homes and interviewing people as though nothing has changed.
If work is essentially the same, and family life is changed by the boys being around all the time why does it feel so suffocating right now?
It’s more about the perception of what has been taken away from us and the realization that was has been taken away is certainty or stability, and that has been replaced with fear and unknown. I love the movie the Replacements, because Keanu Reeves (I am unashamedly supportive of Keanu Reeves day), and one of my favorite scenes is in the locker room when Gene Hackman asks them what they fear. Bees, spiders, and quicksand. A fear I have is the unknown.
I don’t particularly like not knowing what is coming or what is happening. I drive Ronda crazy when she plans activities by constantly hounding her for details, plans, and arrangements. I used to think that need to know was related to my ‘type a’ personality. While I don’t deny I lean towards the overbearing and asshole-ish ‘type a’, I am not so sure my need to know isn’t born out of a fear of not knowing. Out of a fear of having no idea how to handle what is coming if I don’t know what is coming. For me, not knowing what is coming is 100 times worse than knowing what is coming, even if it is bad. My brain is constantly working to make sense and figure out what is next, so I can know and be prepared. I don’t like being surprised and not knowing what is next.
Right now, we are in the midst of the biggest ‘we don’t know what’s next’ in my lifetime, aside from the months following 9/11/01. I am reading a book written by a former FBI agent and he speaks a lot about the uncertainty of the months and years following 9/11. Not that you ever forget the times that your life drastically changes, but you take for granted the changes that came as a result of that life change that are not normal life. Our lives have changed and things are becoming different in front of our eyes and we don’t know what is next. We don’t know. And the lack of knowledge is suffocating. It is overwhelming. It is frightening.
But this fear, this suffocation, this feeling of being overwhelmed can’t last forever. It won’t last forever. If you have read to this point and you are hoping to find words of wisdom or encouragement on how to overcome this time, I am sorry to disappoint you with none of either. My only advice I would offer to you at this time, is the advice I am offering to myself. Focus on what matters most and make the most of the time we have. It is hard to juggle working from home, managing the boys, and helping them to get their schoolwork complete. And all the other stuff that is normal day to day life, without adding in this unknown fear of covid-19. I am trying to work during the times that I can be productive and work. I am trying to take the time I can to spend it with the boys and Ronda. And I am trying to take the time that I can for myself. All the while, keeping the perspective that being overwhelmed and freaking out, being rude and mean to everybody doesn’t help anyone.
I guess the advice I would offer is to take each moment as it comes, breathe in and breath out, and try your best to let the fear of the unknown overwhelm you to the point you are unable to function. I will pray for you in this time and ask you pray for me as well.
Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.