As we continue to journey through this age of the CoronaVirus there continues to be talk about “when we get back to normal”. However, months into this adventure I think we are beginning to realize that there is no getting “back to normal” completely. This is one of those distinct moments in time that none of us will ever forget. As I write this we are still in the middle of it with a week left of quarantine here in Colorado and a big question mark as to what May 1st will bring.
Life came to a screeching halt for all of us in the entire world. It’s crazy-making that all 7 billion of us are experiencing this at the same time. Like many of you I have experienced losses; my youngest child is graduating from high school this year and we had planned a special spring break with him. Our middle son is graduating from college, and we will not have that “normal” planned experience. I haven’t seen my parents in over a month and miss them and I also hated that we had to cancel a trip to visit our oldest son and daughter in law.
Of course, I am disappointed, but I also know that compared to many, our loss is minimal. I am choosing to accept that this is all out of my control and nothing will change our reality. What I do have control over is my mind and my response to this. This has been an inconvenience for my family and me, but we are healthy, safe, working, and choosing to be joyful. What I am concerned about however is our collective desire to return to normal.
Normal for many of you has been an overworked, exhausted, fast-paced lifestyle . . . too busy, don’t have time, etc, etc. What is the rush or desire to return to that? There were years I got up, got my kids to school, went to work, then after work, I began my drop off/pick up duties for four kids activities while trying to squeeze in a homemade dinner. Some nights my rounds didn’t end until 11 pm, then I would do it again the next day. My weekends then became a time to catch up on the things that I had no time to do during the week, laundry, housekeeping, shopping, meal prep, etc. I was busy, I was exhausted and I was avoiding the truth of my life. Why would I want to return to that?
Right now our lives are on pause and pretty much contained within our homes with the families we chose to create. This pandemic has been described as ‘traumatic; so if the entire world is experiencing collective trauma, where is the wisdom in returning to normal as if this never happened?
When you are in the middle of a traumatic situation there is a deep desire of wishing this had never happened and wanting life to go back to the way that it was. The truth is, that is the worst thing we can do.
I find that people generally go one of two unhealthy ways as they attempt to deal with pain or trauma. One is to minimize it; rewrite it in a way that it wasn’t as bad as they imagined it to be and they just sweep it under the rug as it is too hard to deal with it. This doesn’t work and no matter how hard we try, it will come out sideways one day. Richard Rohr states that “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” We have all seen that, right? Brené Brown also speaks about how if we don’t deal with our own stuff, we will work it out on others.
The other side of that is to make our pain or trauma our identity. We take what happened to us and allow it to define who we are. This only serves to keep us living in the past and in a place where we continue to relive our pain or bring it into a current situation where it doesn’t belong.
True healing is resolving the past, truly forgiving, and transforming our pain in a way that fundamentally changes us. It is knowing that our pain and trauma are part of our story, but it is not THE story.
I hope we can really take this “pause” and do some honest evaluation of our lives, how and where we spend our time; what we are cultivating in our lives. For some of you the break from “busy” may reveal things you are hiding from; a marriage that is resigned and unfulfilling, kids you’re disconnected from, unhealthy relationships with people, or addiction to your work. Only you know what has left you unfulfilled.
We are living in prolonged uncertainty and if you have never experienced that before in your life it is challenging. Fortunately for me, I have a different mindset during this crisis because nearly 5-years ago we went through a marriage and family crisis that changed everything. It was a crisis that caused us to wake up and come alive. While in the depths of it, I wished it away and wanted things to go “back to normal” but really, I didn’t and if we wanted true change, we knew that we couldn’t.
So we began again. We re-wrote our story and became the authors of our own lives. Instead of focusing on the cracks we chose to focus on the beauty of the light coming through the cracks; love, redemption, grace, forgiveness, and joy.