A personal letter from the editor
If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last few weeks in a fluctuating state of uncertainty, exerting as much control over your particular situation as you can.
If you’re like my family, you may have felt isolated or lonely, looking for every opportunity to connect with friends and family in a safe but meaningful manner. You may have also started distance learning for your child or for yourself, with varying degrees of success.
And if you’re clergy like my husband, you’ve been planning for Holy Week, adapting worship services, approaching appointment season, planning your next sermon series, and receiving an influx of conference emails offering resources and strategies, all while trying to juggle the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the communities and congregation(s) you serve without leaving any family members feeling like they are being left behind or neglected in the process.
Life during a pandemic can be overwhelming. Life during a pandemic is overwhelming.
This isn’t exactly a new revelation. As of this writing (early morning, April 2), there are more than 939,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. By the time you read this, that number will likely be more than a million people. More Americans have already died from the coronavirus than were killed during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and that number is rising.
It’s getting harder and harder to think that nobody I know will get infected, or worse. It’s a scary thing, and being stuck at home with no sense of relief only compounds the worry. To be honest, I don’t know how many more platitudes of comfort or diatribes of judgment I can handle. And you know what? I think it’s okay to admit that.
In some ways, life feels like Psalm 22:2: “Oh my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest” (NRSV). That’s not to say I think God is absent or not listening to the prayers of the faithful. Rather, it’s to say I find comfort in knowing that God’s chosen people could express the negative or overwhelming feelings in their lives. Thousands of years before I was stressed about a virus, they were giving me permission to mourn.
I think sometimes we speed past scriptures like Psalm 22 because it feels better to think about the promises that come in Psalm 23. I’m glad for those promises. I just also appreciate that scripture, and by extension God, is big enough to handle my grief when I’m feeling overwhelmed or overtaken by sorrow.
Like I said, right now, life is overwhelming, and if you need to claim God’s promises of hope for the future, then you absolutely should. But if you’re like me, if you need some time to just sit in the moment and name your experience for what it is – stressful, chaotic, unhappy, overwhelming – take heart.
This, too, is a faithful and biblical response, and God’s promises will always be there, even if first you mourn.