It was the best of times; It was the worst of times

Ok, so maybe the first part of this title is a stretch, but it’s all about the catching the eye of your reader, right? This year has proven to be a challenge in ways I have never experienced before. Walking into stores and seeing bare shelves struck a chord of fear in me that I still can’t explain. I had plenty of food, I didn’t need to buy a single thing. But seeing people fighting over common everyday items like toilet tissue, milk, eggs, meat, well it just made me feel very strange.

Very strange indeed…..

We had new words introduced into our vocabulary….social isolation, self quarantine, lockdown, PPE, flatten the curve, essential businesses, essential workers, shelter in place, contactless delivery, herd immunity, contact tracing…the list goes on and on. We had to become tech savvy overnight…some learning the hard way that you need to turn your Zoom camera off before going to the bathroom…and muting the microphone before you scream at your kids to do their school work and quit playing video games. And speaking of school….

Just like that…

We all became homeschool teachers…..

PE looked a bit different….

And there was a whole lot more of it…..

Teachers got creative about getting books to students who were desperately missing the library……

Teachers also got creative with projects-some of them were good enough to eat. It was hard. Hard on teachers who were basically having to scrap all their lesson plans and start over in March. Hard on parents who were working from home, or anxious because they were not working at all, or even more anxious if they were considered essential workers and had to leave kids alone unsupervised on the internet all day long. And there was the learning curve ( or lack of learning even with the curve) of non-techie parents trying to adjust to a now digital/virtual world. And let’s not forget the the kids. They struggled as well. They quickly picked up on the stress in the grownups around them and didn’t know what to do with those feelings. They missed their friends, their teachers, and their routine. It is so hard to watch a 12 year old struggle with depression and not be able to help.

But people are resilient aren’t they? When the dust settled, we realized that this was just the way it was going to be for a while. We began to find our way and settle into our “new normal”. And maybe even enjoy the slower pace this time had forced on us. We met our neighbors (socially distanced meetings of course) because everywhere you looked people were outside. You saw families walking together…

Lots and lots of walking…

And if you were lucky enough to already have a bike, lots of bike riding.

We explored our neighborhoods and found things we never even knew were there….

And we made many new friends…

Who made us laugh….and we so needed laughter….

A whole lot of laughs…

And we may have even talked to some of them…

Even our pets made new friends….

We discovered our neighbors were funny…..

and very talented….

And we rediscovered each other and became so much closer in the process…

Because family is so very important….

And while rediscovering and intentionally building our relationships was very important during this time, we also had time to work on our relationship with ourselves as well. We were given the gift of time to pursue new hobbies….

We decorated previously unused spaces….

And learned new skills….

We were so blessed, no one in our immediate family was ill, but so many of friends were not so lucky. We prayed with many and tried to console through FaceTime calls, notes and meals. But it was hard. Really hard. Friends who couldn’t see parents in nursing homes. Those who couldn’t be with loved ones in the hospital, who had to say their final goodbyes via a FaceTime call a precious nurse made in their last moments. Brutally hard. We watched our savings dwindle and couldn’t do anything to stop it. We were afraid. Afraid for our health and the health of our loved ones, afraid of what the future held. I think we collectively realized just how little control we had, and for a planner and controller like me, that struck a fear I didn’t even know was there. And that fear quietly turned to a depression and despair that I had never felt before. Getting out of bed became hard, and as a morning person I hated it. I was tired all the time and lost desire to do things that had always brought me joy. I withdrew from friends, not returning calls or text messages. My camera gathered dust as did my journal and, more importantly, my Bible. And I really didn’t even realize it was happening. Until one day I couldn’t stop crying and realized I needed to seek help. I felt so guilty about feeling this way. After all, we had food, clothing, and shelter, and most importantly, our health. I had no right to feel this way. But I was wrong. Just because nothing major had happened to me or my little family didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to feel my feelings. A good friend gave me the name of her doctor and I made the call. I was sure it was something physical that was making me feel so tired. Imagine my surprise when she gently reached out and put her hand over mine as I rambled on and on and suggested I try an anti-depressant. At first I was shocked, then indigent that she would think that. I was a warrior, I was a strong single mom. Weak people took those. I was not weak. It must be a physical issue. So she agreed to the blood work and made an appointment for me to come back in a few days and talk about the results. Well, you can probably guess the outcome of this story. My blood work was normal. And when she told me that, instead of being grateful that I was physically healthy, I burst into tears. I was so embarrassed, but she kept handing me tissues and reassuring me to get it all out all the while assuring me that everything was going to be ok. So I began to take a tiny little pill every night before going to bed and within in a few weeks I could feel the fog begin to lift.

And spring came…..

Beautiful…..

Life giving….

Spring.

It wasn’t a quick fix. I had to do my part as well. I found a counselor, and through the same technology that had me so frustrated earlier in the year, I began to talk about my feelings, to heal from hurts I was holding on to, and realizing that I needed to relinquish control to the only One who truly has control. That is was ok to plan, but be open to change when He changes those plans. I began to journal again, and got back into the word….

I began to reflect on verses I had known for years in a new way…

And slowly but surely, I began to fight my way back from the blackness that I had slipped into, step by step, one day at a time.

And the celebrations of life and living returned…..maybe they looked a little different this time….

But still so very sweet….

And we realized that life was still full of hope and excitement for a future that is going to be full of ups and downs….

But also a future that is full of new beginnings….

So I guess the title is more truthful than I thought. Sometimes it takes the worst of times to help you see and appreciate the best of times. If you find yourself in the dark place that I was in, please don’t be ashamed to reach out and find help. It doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are strong.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

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