Restless is how I would describe myself since mid-March. I’m trying my hardest to take advantage of this “unprecedented time,” but most days I feel like I’m failing.
I’m TRYING. I’m drinking more water. Taking a multivitamin. I’m working out at home. Doing a daily quiet time. I’m cooking. Keeping up with dishes and laundry. I’m getting outdoors. Trying to remember to breathe deeply. Watering my plants and making homemade spice mixes and coming up with fun at-home activities we can do with the kids all summer.
But I’m not sleeping well at night. I’m on Pinterest at 4am many nights. I drink more alcohol these days. I lose touch with friends and coworkers as I’m so focused on getting my work done, helping my husband with our kids, keeping the house in order, and making sure each kid feels like I’m present. I send brief texts to family to let them know I appreciate their interest and their photos but I am not connecting with anyone these days, really.
At the end of each day, I collapse on the couch with the kids to watch a movie. I can’t keep track of how many kid-friendly movies I’ve bought on Amazon in the past three months. We pop popcorn and I let them stay up late. I fall into bed and have vivid dreams: about tornadoes, about COVID-19, about coworkers I miss, about my late father, about horrible, made-up fights with family members. There aren’t many good dreams right now.
Everything feels futile at the moment. We are working hard, but for what? For the next round of layoffs? For the next furlough? There is no stability these days and I have no control over any of it. All I can do is keep my head down and keep working, but some days, it is exhausting and my mind doesn’t let me rest.
“THERE ARE YEARS THAT ASK QUESTIONS AND YEARS THAT ANSWER THEM.” -Zora Neale Hurston
The past few months have reminded me of a book of the Bible I tend to skip: Ecclesiastes. The author keeps it very, very real about his thoughts on life: Nothing really matters. Life is hard and then you die. I’ve never liked this book, but in this year of the pandemic, it kind of makes more sense. My simple little routines are shot to heck; MUCH more importantly, so many are sick, unemployed, hungry, stressed, grieving…to say the least, it’s been a tough year.
I’m reminded of the yin and yang of life. I don’t want to admit it…I don’t want to think about the fact that we’ll have good times AND bad. That sometimes suffering is part of the equation. What the author of Ecclesiastes (commonly thought of as King Solomon) realizes is that we have eternity set in our hearts; what we yearn for now can only come to full fruition in the afterlife. This is what I cling to on the hard days.
While there are difficulties now, there haven’t always been, nor will there always be. I’ve seen times of plenty and times of scarcity; I’ve seen good health and scary diagnoses; I’ve seen grief and I’ve seen joy. I know we’ve all had these ups and downs, these hills and valleys.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4-7
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
We’re all going through a valley right now (in many different capacities and to varying degrees), and what I know, all I can cling to, is that it will not last forever.