This isn’t how it is supposed to be.
The morning after I moved my daughter, Meghan, out of her first apartment and back home, this was the only thought I could form. I sat on my front porch watching the sunrise, held a cup of coffee in my hand, and wept.
I had been fairly strong up until then. As the COVID19 pandemic shut down my community one door at a time, I kept a brave face and stayed busy. But, when The University of Tennessee canceled my daughter’s commencement and replaced physical classrooms with online learning for the rest of the year, my sadness for Meghan’s loss swept my feet out from under me.
It was destined to be an exciting spring for our whole family, full of celebration and hope. In addition to Meghan graduating from college, I was looking forward to two of my younger children, Claudine and Jeremiah, graduating from high school. We planned to have a huge party celebrating the accomplishments of all three kids.
“I can’t believe how fast my life changed,” my 18-year-old son, Jeremiah, said.
Me either, baby.
So what now? What do we do, when our rewards are stolen from us; when, through no fault of our own, the future becomes suddenly unsure?
I wish I had great answers. I don’t, but what I do have is the Psalmist’s example of how to walk through life when it is falling apart. Will you allow me to share it with you?
- Grieve your losses. In the early days of the pandemic, I saw a few posts that were shaming toward those who were mourning hard losses such as graduations and proms. It isn’t ungrateful, or a spiritual failing to grieve losing what we love. It is human. And, in my experience, honesty clears the way for a deeper relationship with God. So go ahead, join hands with the Psalmist and grieve. (Psalm 6:6)
- Rest when you need it. Years ago, when I was going through a hard time, I began berating myself for my “bad attitude” and “lack of faith” to my pastor. He listened, and then wisely said, “Emotional and spiritual exhaustion are real.” Those words gave me permission to rest in God. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He doesn’t need you to be anything. His kingdom will endure whether you are too tired to go on or not. It is okay to give yourself a break. (Psalm 62:1)
- Pray, pray, pray. Take every need, each heartbreak, and all your anxious thoughts to the God who loves you. (Psalm 39:11-13)
- Take time to remember what God has done. One thing the Psalmist did over and over again when he was faced with tough times was to remind himself of God’s past acts of deliverance. How has God come through for you, and for all of His children, in the past? (Psalm 77:10-12)
- Remind yourself of the truth. Find a verse each day that gives you hope and strength. Write it down, and place it somewhere where you will see it often. It is easy to go to the worst case scenario when times are hard, especially when there is so much terrifying news out there. Perhaps, just for today, turn off the news and comfort yourself with the truth: God loves you. He is in control. This is not the end! (Psalm 31:23-24)