I have been reflecting a lot on this past year and wondering if any of us thought that we would still be in the midst of the pandemic a year later. It has felt like my thoughts and emotions are being tossed by the waves in a storm. I have gone from thoughts like, “It’s ok, we can do this,” to “Enough is enough. When will this end?”, and the cycle continues to tumble. When life throws us curveballs, we find ourselves reeling from the unexpected and it can feel overwhelming. It is OK to feel overwhelming feelings because it can help us process our experiences fully. So, if you are one who has felt some intense emotion in this past year, I am here to say that it’s natural. I would like to identify a few things I have learned during this past year that I know will carry with me even after this pandemic is gone. My hope is that they can be helpful for you as well as we continue to do our best to carry on through this pandemic.
I still remember the weekend in March that everything shut down. I was disappointed because we had to cancel our family trip to Hawaii. We were all so excited to be going away to recharge and spend some quality time together. Our boys were so confused and upset when we made the decision to stay home. We knew cancelling the trip was the right call, however, we still felt sad, disappointed, frustrated and confused. When the two weeks of spring break were over and everything was still shut down, it became apparent that life was going to look different. It was time to dig in, dig deep and begin to make the most of our situation.
As a therapist, reframing is an exercise I use often. Reframing is when we take a situation, experience, and/or relationship and change the meaning. We all tend to see things from different viewpoints or lenses. When we reframe, we are challenging ourselves to change the lens or viewpoint to see things differently. Reframing doesn’t change our circumstances or situation, but it can help us look at it differently. For example, instead of seeing the lockdown as a negative experience, I worked hard to reframe it as an opportunity to spend quality time with my family, and as a time to slow down and enjoy the little things. This helped me to view my unfortunate circumstance in a more positive light.
The 40% Rule
When I was training for my first half marathon, I remember feeling like it was way too difficult. Whenever I wanted to try to increase my distance, my body felt like shutting down as soon as I hit the distance I was used to running. David Goggins, a Navy Seal and author, coined the term: 40% rule. He says, “When you think you’re done, you’re only at 40% of your body’s capability.” When we think there is no way to continue on, we can. We can continue to dig deep and continue through hard circumstances because we are resilient beings. David Goggins says, “Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don’t so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head.” The mental game of life can be the hardest battle, but when we remember the 40% rule, we learn we can do hard things.
There are so many places in the Bible that show individuals crying out to God to stop the anguish, heartache and pain. For Job, David, and even Jesus on the cross, they cried out to God to take the pain and the situation away. However, with each lament, they came back to who God was and chose to continue to praise His name amidst the storm. This is the beauty of lament – connecting to the raw emotion that we feel, sharing it with God, and continuing to remember who He is. He knows our needs better than we do and even before we do (Psalms 139:3). I believe that God invites us to wrestle with our pain, discomfort, and heartache with Him. When we do, it can bring us closer to Him and helps us remember He is still in control, He is good and His love never fails.
He is Good
It is hard for us to see the good outside of our circumstances and if those circumstances are hard, painful, or uncomfortable, it is almost impossible to see the good. We are like horses with blinders on; we can only see what is right in front of us. In many ways, having blinders can be good because it can help us stay present and focused, but it makes it difficult to see God’s big plan. We need to remember that God is good, and then to begin to trust in His plan and purpose. James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God, says, “Jesus never promises that our lives will be free of struggle. In fact, he said quite the opposite: ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).” God remains good even when our life circumstances are less than. However, we can continue to grow through all life circumstances trusting in God’s goodness.
God promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), therefore we are not alone. We can hold this promise and claim it. We do not go through life without Him. This can provide such comfort and peace during times when we feel lonely and afraid. For many of us, we have not been able to see our families, or engage in the activities/sports that we would like to. It can feel isolating, but we can always find ways to continue to connect and live life together and with God because He never changes.
When I take my thoughts and feelings to God, I believe He meets me in my intense emotions and I can find rest as I remember the truths that He is in control and that He is good. This can help me grieve and process my feelings to be able to come to a place of realization that He gives me the strength to continue to dig deep and reframe my experiences in a way that may be healthier for me in the long run.
Megan is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a warm demeanour and excellent techniques to help individuals and couples accomplish their goals. Megan experiences joy and passion in providing opportunities for clients to integrate their faith into their counselling journey.