Church Girl Blog

Finding Purpose Through Grief

by | Mar 29, 2020 | A HOME Life, A MOM Life, A SCHOOL Life, A WIFE Life, A WRITER'S Life

Progressing deeper into the quarantine rabbit hole, I have been feeling a little off-kilter and wondering why everything seems amiss. Like Alice, things seem mighty weird and, let’s just be honest, there’s an awful lot of people wearing stretchy spandex and no makeup. Sometimes, I’m feeling a bit like the Mad Hatter myself…

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“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) Photo by Elijah O’Donnell from Pexels

Friends, I am so unmotivated these days. That To-Do List? I just can’t seem to get through it. Those deadlines approaching? I’ll get to it tomorrow. I have spoken to other friends, writers and editors, ones who are also solo artists like me, and they’re saying the exact same thing.

I’m not glued to news sources (evening only, thank you!), but I am checking the CDC website at the growing numbers and thinking, Just how far will this spread? Will it reach me, personally? Seriously, why am I not getting things done!?

Go with me here…

Have you ever had too many apps running on your phone or programs in the background on your computer? Everything go slower, doesn’t it, because the system gets overloaded. We have to “X” out of those programs or swipe up on our iPhones.

Hmmm. This is my problem right now. There’s a lot of subconscious thought in my head that I just haven’t been able to nail down and it’s making me anxious and unproductive.

My brain is trying its best to process a rising emergency situation that we have never seen in our lifetimes. It’s one that, unlike wartime, has no human face, no specific geographic location and doesn’t care about your nationality, religion, color, age or social status. It’s killed Muslims, Christians, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Italians, Iranians, Hispanics and Americans. You can’t plead with it, appeal to its logic, or beg for its mercy.

COrona VIrus Disease 2019 is an indiscriminate killer. Look at it head on, it’s terrifying. So we turn our heads and still see it coming in our periphery, hoping it’ll bypass us.

What’s to keep me from full-fledged panic and hysteria? To help myself deal with the pandemic and how quickly the world is changing, I have to name the emotion for myself. It’s GRIEF, and I believe many of us are in shock and are going through these stages collectively.

Denial

I remember when this all came on the U. S. radar back in December thinking, Oh, it’s just another flu outbreak, NBD. Even when the frontline first responder Dr. Li Wenliang died, I was surprised and saddened, but that was about it.

We have laughed at the memes to take the edge off. We created and shared hand washing graphics, posted photos of our perpetual yoga pant uniforms, lamented or smiled about having kids at home 24/7, and bought up all the toilet paper, flour, sugar, eggs and yeast that we could–even if we had no idea how to use them in a recipe.

Everyone’s talking about what they’re binge-watching on Netflix or Disney+. I’ve noticed the local liquor store’s delivery truck is pretty busy, so it appears that we’re doing our best job trying to distract and numb ourselves, too.

Throughout that first week in quarantine, I kept thinking, Surely, people are overreacting. This is America. What happened there would never happen here.

Until it did.

I realize now we have been in denial, the first stage of Grief.

Anger

We progressed pretty quickly from Denial to Anger once freedoms were limited and routines upended.

  • Stay inside and social distance? No way!
  • School’s been cancelled and I have to emergency-school all my kids for what looks like the rest of the school year? You’ve gotta be kidding! This is ridiculous!
  • You’re laying me off? How am I going to pay my rent?
  • You won’t TEST ME for coronavirus–I am in a high-risk category!

 

Things just got really real, really quick. The national changes and our state limits came fast and were surprising. People are afraid with good reason. The parasympathetic fear trigger makes us primal and emotional and it’s really difficult to handle such extreme emotions without strong coping mechanisms. We fight, flee, freak or freeze.

People with little respect for authority rebel. We saw that on national television with the students on spring break in Clearwater, FL. Being informed of the seriousness, they stayed. All it took is for just one of those beachgoers to arrive at the party with a little crown virus and many were infected, came home, and spread it to their communities.

If you aren’t the outright rebelling kind, you might rant and use social media to lash out to gain support, as if we can change the minds of leaders in this passive aggressive way. How many times have you seen this after someone’s been let go or fired?

Some just go silent in our anger. We fume. Since we can’t directly face our anger appropriately (cuz, you can’t even SEE the virus and you probably won’t call your governor, CEO or school superintendent) we might try to squash it inside ourselves. More often than not, I’ve seen that anger going sideways and getting directed at those we love the most.

Bargaining

What’s next in the Stages of Grief? Bargaining. I won’t get it and my family won’t be affected if we social distance for two weeks, right? If we do everything like they tell us, will it all go away soon? Lord, I promise, I’ll go to church, starting tithing, quit sinning, if only you would DO something!

You can run through all the bargaining scenarios in your head, but the truth is this. The virus doesn’t bargain. State institutions and politicians won’t bargain with you, and neither will God.

Here’s where I take solace. It’s about how God is different.

He is merciful and loves me no matter what; He is the author of light and life. God wants to bring me into an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus and will use whatever means necessary to get me there. In my heart, I believe he will use this to draw me closer than ever.

So, what’s the next stage?

Depression

We are never gonna make it through this…life as we know it is over. When will this end?

Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness and loss and can be overwhelming. In that past, as a ministry-serving, on-fire Church Girl, I have struggled with it, even been crippled by it. I’m so thankful for therapy and my faith, and at times, medicine. It’s been life-changing to talk with trustworthy, talented counselor and share honestly about my feelings.

I find writing is also cathartic, especially now as I am processing these incredible times. Nailing down feelings on paper, taking those thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ, allows objectivity with way less emotion. No longer crippled by inaction because those “programs” and data aren’t running in my background thoughts, I am freed up to plan and act instead of wallow in doom or sadness.

In the end, I know Jesus hears my prayers. He never has left or forsaken me and he’s never lost sight of me. My name is carved into the palms of his hands and he has a place in his heavenly kingdom just for me. This is what gives me

HOPE
DEPRESSION

and

FAITH
FEAR

Acceptance

Alright. Have you followed this far? Have you recognized these stages in yourself?

Acceptance for me sounds like this: Well, here we are. Let’s get through it. 

We will be living under quarantine for another few weeks or months. We’re going to have get to this stage at one point or another.

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He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34) Photo Courtesy Abby Whittler

Side Note: As a momma, here is my biggest sadness of Acceptance.

My son and the other Class of 2020 high school students were supposed to be spending their glory days making memories during their last season, performance, spring play, competitions, “Senior Skip Day”, prom, and graduation ceremonies. They were supposed to be looking forward to their future, not worrying about it.

Three million of them were born during 9/11 and are graduating during Covid-19. It just makes me so sad because I love the Man Cub so much; this wasn’t what I expected for him.

Purpose

Is all this suffering and sadness for nothing? Gosh, I hope not. I wanna move from just plain Acceptance into Purpose, otherwise I might just be paralyzed indefinitely! What I’ve learned through my short time in therapy is that how I think and feel about something is always about perspective and mindset and I am 100% in control of that.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Christians to bring hope to a dark world. It’s also the greatest chance for the Church to rethink what ministry can be. 

What am I learning about purpose through this unprecedented time in history?

  1. God’s in charge.
  2. There is nothing he does not have authority over, even if it’s microscopic.
  3. He is giving me on the greatest opportunities to help in his kingdom work.

 

Our school district is packing food for at-risk students. I’ve volunteered through my church.

A friend and I started Facebook Livecasting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10AM CST to encourage other women with laughter, fellowship and conversation. The group is called “Coffee In The Quarantine” (click to see it!) and is based off my post from last week. We would love for you to join us.

En Fin

In the 1300’s, the Black Plague claimed more than 200 million lives in Europe and the people who served on the front lines were Christians. Are we called to do any less during our time of crisis?

What I am realizing is that my purpose is pretty local. Be a good wife and momma. Pray, be kind and serve. Consider others needs ahead of my own. Encourage. Opt in as part of the solution, not the problem.

What I’m finding is that my posts are becoming pretty international surprisingly. Readers from 17 different countries on 5 continents have read one or more of these articles in the last month. Somehow, Jesus is even finding his way into China and Turkey through this humble little blog.

Suddenly, I’m feeling pretty energized and I”m realizing there’s a lot to be done right now, isn’t there?

Well? Let’s get to it.

How is the pandemic showing you your purpose? Share in the comments below!

 

For other Church Girl articles:
What Am I Learning From Coronavirus
Coffee In The Quarantine
A Few Of My Favorite Things
Favorite Things #2

Here are some interesting articles I referenced writing Finding Purpose Through Grief. That Discomfort You Feel and How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Ended.

Also, David Kessler’s website Grief.com and his book with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, The Five Stages of Grief, might be helpful for reference during this time.

 

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