Facebook memories. A blessing and a curse. Never in a million years could I have anticipated the wide spectrum of emotions they would evoke, vacillating between joy and sorrow. And never did I expect a world-wide virus to become fodder for a blog post. In fact, I have been stubbornly refusing to let it be so, convincing myself that to use this pandemic as a writing prompt would be succumbing to the hysteria that I see playing out in the news and on social media. But on days like today, the pendulum swings more to the sorrow side. In fact, the grief is palpable.
On the road again. Heading to OM States in Pittsburgh!
City day with the youngest
Great day with Jacob Ahlstrand at the Met…
Ordinarily, these memories would make me smile; they were recorded, complete with photos, to do just that at a later date. But today, and for the past few weeks, these social media memories lead me to a place of anxiety such as I have never known. There are moments of overwhelming fear that these simple pleasures – museums, concerts, trips- are events that shall forever be relegated to Facebook “memories”. There are moments when I let my thoughts do that negative cascading thing that psychologists warn against, and I’m convinced I will never again set foot inside a museum or enjoy the sounds of a live concert.
The most difficult thing about these last few weeks is the longing I have to see my children. Not just see them, but spend time, share a meal, a hug. I listened to someone share earlier today in a Zoom meeting (which has become my new normal for social contact) that he drove over an hour today to see his daughter and grandson, and spend time “visiting” from the driveway, aching to give them a hug. I so related to that! We have had to cancel planned visits from our sons; stay far from our immunocompromised daughter; abandon any plans of a family Easter gathering (although my sister has already put plans in motion for a virtual Easter beer hunt).
I know I am not alone in all this. I mean, my losses are merely inconveniences compared to the real tragedies many are enduring. But there are days, moments really, when this is really hard. I keep coming back to the place I was almost a year ago, not understanding God’s plan, doubting his goodness, screaming “But God!” once again. It’s exhausting.
When I shared that post (has it really been 9 months?!), I was climbing out of a place of doubt and despondency to a place of trust and dependency. I clung to that promise that my faith would not be shipwrecked in a storm (S Eller). I had certainly weathered many “storms” in the past.
This latest storm hasn’t left me shipwrecked either (although I do feel as if I am stranded on a deserted island most days). The fact that it seem to come out of nowhere, especially when I was getting back into a somewhat better spiritual frame of mind did remind me of being out on a small boat off the coast of Maine and having a sudden wave swamp the boat. One minute we were laughing and enjoying being out on the water; the next minute I saw my husband’s eyes fill with fear that his new wife and two young children were going to be tossed into Casco Bay.
But just because I felt blindsided, I was reminded recently that God is not at all surprised by what is happening. In fact, not only did God know this would happen, he also knew how I would feel. (Isaiah 46: 9, 10) (Psalm 139:1-16) My overwhelming sense of sadness is not new to Him; he has seen me go through times of “suffering” before, and he “keeps track of all my sorrows…collects all my tears in his bottle. Records each one in his book” (Ps. 56:8). What an incredible visual at a time like this!
God is aware of all my memories, Facebook and otherwise. I can trust him to remind me that my boat may be swamped, but not shipwrecked. All I need to do is look back on all the times he’s bailed me out in the past. Literally and figuratively.
So I will continue to gather memories as they come, even though they may be in the form of Zoom family meetings and group text messages for now. And I will continue to trust the one who “stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8). There may be days when I add more tears to that bottle, but this too shall pass. And I know I can look forward to the day when I don’t have to blow kisses to my children on a computer screen.
(above photo credit Pinterest.com)