Updated: Jun 14
I gaze at the TV screen intensely. Her voice is authoritative and steady “Five, four, three, two, one...we have lift off!”. As those words pierce my ears, I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy course through my veins.
And just like that, two American astronauts were launched into space. “Lucky them,” I thought, “Get ME off the planet!.”
I wasn’t feeling jealous because I have some deep desire to travel into space...but that they were the ones getting off the planet, away from all of this chaos, change and the enforced “new normal”.
It was a fleeting thought but let’s be honest, change is hard and with change comes loss and grief and a whole bunch of adjustments that we just don't see coming and don’t really want.
Throw in a pandemic, a recession, constant bad news from around the planet, stories of death, illness, job loss and political unrest, restrictions on everyday life and isolation from the people you love...and you’ve got yourself quite a concoction.
Actually it looks more like trauma, which by definition is: “A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.”
Some of us seem to just float through ok, but for many of us, the restrictions imposed for coronavirus has left us feeling that there is nowhere to escape to.
It’s a time where we’ve been forced to stop...and when we’re forced to stop with nowhere to go, we often start to think about and deal with issues we’ve been avoiding. We find ourselves surprised that we grieve harder than we thought we would and maybe realise some things that we don’t ever want to go back to. It makes us take stock of life, of what’s really important, and also what we’ve lost.
The fact is we all grieve and deal with change differently, so there’s no real normal or right or wrong and there’s certainly no instruction manual in these unprecedented times, it just is, what it is.
Some of us need more connection that we can’t have, and some of us retract into ourselves and shut down completely. Some are comfortable eating out, some are ordering in all of their supplies and are hardly leaving the house.
This experience has not left us the same people that we were when we entered in. Grief never does. Grief and change challenge us.
They challenge our beliefs and values and cause us to evaluate our relationships, careers and our way of life. But they can also encourage personal growth, positive change and new adventures…and the necessary pruning of other areas.
Our own behaviour might even surprise us. I’ve found myself having a variety of days, akin to a bag of mixed lollies. Some with an angry outburst or two when I’m feeling trapped or out of control. Days where I’ve felt very strong and able to reach out and help others.
There have also been days of grief that have left me craving for my love languages of physical touch and quality time to be met, onlt to have eluded me like a mirage in the desert.
We all understand the need for safety, and abide for that reason, but the cold and hard reality, is that for some of us social distancing can be painful. Having people that you love just 1 and a half metres away without being able to hold them, or be held, almost feels cruel, un-natural at best.
Yes, absolutely, God is near. He’s on the throne, but that’s not what we’re talking about. This is different. God wired us humans for connection with each other, our own kind and has told us that it’s not good for man to be alone. We were not made for imposed isolation, and that’s half the grief, whether you’re a hugger or not.
The reality is that we’re all just doing our best, and there is a necessity for us to do what is best for ourselves during survival mode. It’s not selfish at all, but we have to be so careful that we don’t let the enemy deceive us into getting stuck there.
The tough part is, that while some of us are needing to be self-focused on surviving and have less to give others because we’re not yet ready to emerge, others are already emerging, accepting and moving forward.
Chances are that your circle of people is going to have a variety of levels of readiness, so maybe they still don’t have much to give you at the moment. Keep loving them anyway.
As we begin to emerge, we need to be gentle with ourselves and gentle with each other. Be prepared that we are probably going to emerge a little differently, so lay down expectations... none of us needs that kind of pressure on ourselves or each other.
But what is helpful regardless of which end you find yourself on, is to make time to peek out of ourselves a little more and check on those we love, and be the one to initiate reassuring one another…even if our capacity is reduced a bit for the time being. We owe each other honest and loving conversations in that.
Any relationship that neglects regular respectful communication eventually breaks down. So express what you need, when you need it, whether that be time to yourself, a walk, a laugh or a prayer, but don’t leave the people you love hanging, you need each other. “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
And that right there is why we need to be on the planet.
In the bible, the book of Ecclesiastes talks about change like this:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”
“The new normal”...I hate that term. What is normal? Life is a series of seasons, this “new normal” will also pass.
God created you to be alive and breathing on this planet at this point in history for a special reason; always remember that.
So when you’re ready to start emerging think about this:
Do you choose to stay stuck in old patterns and excuses and fears?
Do you choose to fight the constant changes in life that are inevitable? Why? You’ll only hurt and exhaust yourself ‘kicking against the pricks’.
Or do you choose to take the opportunity that is being handed to you?
Just because things look different than we expected, doesn’t mean they can’t be good, or even better. God can see the end from the beginning and sometimes change can set us on a new trajectory. It gives us the perfect opportunity to let go of old patterns and the things that no longer serve us. It gives us an opportunity to let go of the old and enjoy a new attitude and the exploration of things that we would never have noticed or thought about, had we not been challenged.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19.
So stay on the planet, we need you!
God needs you.