The exhaustion of balancing health, family and Christianity during COVID-19
I’ve been struggling to come up with this week’s blog post. In fact, my blog post planner for this week simply said, “Something spiritual.” But the truth is, my spiritual well often runs low right now.
I haven’t turned away from God. I haven’t stopped believing in Him or His goodness. I’m just weary. I’m weary for all the reasons that have been going on universally with the pandemic. And I’m weary for the additional workload I’m under. I’m also weary from isolation.
Living in isolation
I’m an introvert. In fact, I’ve never scored anything close to extrovert on any personality test I’ve ever taken. I am who I am, and I’m OK with that. My happy place is my home. I get energy from time alone.
But, let’s be honest. This pandemic isolation isn’t regular time at home or time alone. We have continued to be as isolated now as we were when this began last March. It’s been challenging. Our circle has shrunk so that it includes only my parents and my husband’s parents.
My family is part of the often overlooked or forgotten about high risk young(er) people. We don’t fit the mold of what high risk looks like. And yet here we are. So my family continues to isolate, because our state is basing vaccines solely on age. I understand that approach as well, but it means we won’t get the vaccine any time soon.
We are also continuing to isolate from church. That’s difficult. I’ve had many feelings about the church in general during the pandemic. I’ve also had some feelings about my own church in particular during the pandemic.
I know the truth is most of us are doing the best we can to navigate this new twist in life. Nobody was prepared for it. We didn’t think about what life in a pandemic would look like.
Yet, I also feel a decent amount of people have dropped the ball. Instead of showing love and concern for vulnerable populations and doing something as simple as wearing a mask, they balk at the idea. They proclaim their faith is enough or wearing a mask is living in fear. Or they are positive masks don’t matter. Or any number of other reasons.
But the message sent and received is quite simply: you don’t matter enough for me to be uncomfortable. Your health doesn’t mean anything to me.
And that’s difficult for me. It’s not a debate I’ve engaged in publicly or an opinion I’ve shared openly until now. I can’t tell you for sure what is right or wrong within this pandemic. I can only tell you the risk for my family is too great to be nonchalant about it.
So, I am left continuing to isolate because I can’t trust those around me to show love, even when they are people who are supposed to be known by their love and sacrifices. I continue to avoid going anywhere in public unless absolutely necessary. Shopping is all done online. Dinner out, movies and other fun activities outside of my home are out.
The harsh reality
I share this not to ask for sympathy. I don’t need sympathy or pity. But I also don’t need judgment. I share this for all of the others who are like my family and doing our best to survive this time of isolation. We are working hard to keep our children learning and engaged while also not endangering our family.
It’s an awful position to be in. I often wonder how my children will remember this time. I think about what long-term effects they will have from this time. And I truly don’t know all the answers. I just know we are doing the best we can with the information we have.
We haven’t made this decision for isolation lightly. My husband and I have done research and spent much time in prayer. We know what is right for us. Sometimes knowing you’ve made the right decision doesn’t make it any easier. That’s where we are right now.
I am struggling with things like vaccine envy. I am missing connecting with other humans in a real way. Small talk isn’t my jam, so I don’t miss it. But I do miss deeper conversations with friends over a meal in a restaurant or at Bible study.
I miss not having to work on the weekends in effort to make up for the time lost to virtual schooling. I miss not being able to go to church in person on Sunday mornings. And I miss seeing extended family members.
Finding hope and strength in the struggle
But through it all, through every single moment of this challenge, I also know I’ve not been going alone. The pandemic careened into my life with such overwhelming force as I was the caregiver for my husband after his shoulder surgery (which was the day before my children’s school announced plans to go virtual and the hospital began canceling all elective surgery). I didn’t have the strength to get through those first few weeks when I was up throughout the night with my husband and helping everyone with everything.
Yet, somehow I did get through it. I also know it wasn’t just somehow. I know it was the help of Someone. God has been with me every step of the way. He’s given me strength when mine faltered. God has encouraged me when I felt discouraged. He’s listened as I’ve poured out my hurts and fears.
It hasn’t been so easy, but He’s been there. God knows me. He doesn’t forget this vulnerable population that I’m a part of. He has given me hope, strength and encouragement when I have most needed it. My Heavenly Father has reminded me that I’m not alone even when I’ve felt lonely.
I don’t know when this time of isolation will end. As I’m typing this, I feel hope looking forward because our numbers are the best they’ve been in months. I am hopeful in knowing that more and more people are getting vaccinated and one day my husband and I will, too.
Life won’t go back to normal overnight like it changed seemingly overnight. I don’t know how much normal will actually return. There are so many things I can’t predict or know. But I do know that every step of the way, every moment that I face, God will continue to be with me. And that is all I really need.