Give Yourself a Break

By Pamela Sharp

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. —Psalm 103:8

In my own attempt to remain positive during these times of social separation, and living our lives under unusual and stressful circumstances, I was truly not seeing the negative impact on the people around me. For me it was a press on, this is what it is kind of time. I tend to put a positive spin on everything. The bombardment, and doom and gloom tone of the news was getting worse, and it was getting to me—I wanted to counterbalance it somehow. I was going to be God’s cheerleader! Come on everybody—choose faith over fear. This too shall pass. You can do it.

I’ve reinvented myself before. I’ve drastically changed careers several times and always loved the challenge; this current environment was a chance take a step back, assess, seek and seize opportunity, and create a new norm (for now and maybe for the future). God makes all things new, and this season of Easter is the best reminder of that. The idea of a fresh start is incredibly invigorating. I always have hope that things will be better.

While I was looking at this experience as a time to do things differently and better, many people were negatively impacted by this new norm, which is not normal at all. The reality is that everyone is vulnerable. This is a health crisis and while there is a lot of information, the facts change frequently. Many have health issues that render them more susceptible to the virus. Many are working from home for the first time, or have lost jobs. Real life tragedies occur even though the world seems to have stopped.

Here’s my reality: As positive as I am, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. There are four of us living and working in our home 24/7. Corralling my teenage boys in an online school environment is not easy. Each day has presented new challenges, and often produces frustration—and tears. Somedays, the plan I’ve put in place for myself and my boys is completely undermined. And during it all, we’ve had a tragedy in our family—my 42 year niece unexpectedly passed away (not from the virus).

Funerals are postponed and people cannot even mourn together. Milestones like weddings, graduations, and births may or may not be celebrated as planned. Vacations, camps, and events are cancelled. We don’t know when we can all be together again at work, in church and school, and especially with our friends and family. I apologize for not wanting to see the truly negative impact this has on most people.

As we struggle to manage our lives at this time, I urge you to be kind to yourselves, to forgive yourselves when you don’t live up to your own expectations, or when stress and anxiety gets the best of you. Many of us feel like we are failing right now, but this is not a pass/fail situation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “We were under great pressure…beyond our ability to endure… we despaired… However, Paul looked for hope that was bigger than the storm engulfing them, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

I can’t help but think if “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8), then He wants us to extend that same grace, mercy and love to ourselves. I pray that if you are feeling down on yourself right now, that will give yourself a break. These stormy times are not so easy to navigate—it’s truly not normal, but the good news is that we have a Father Who loves us unconditionally, and He wants us to be dependent on Him. So lean in. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).