“Hope is a song in a weary throat.” —Pauli Murray
Circle up you gorgeous pandemic caregivers. Look at your tired hands and feet. You are alive today. You’ve kept others alive this past year. You have been strong—mostly. In those moments when you couldn’t be strong, did you melt into a puddle of helpless goo? Well, sometimes you did. But when you did, you didn’t stay there. You got back up even though you are exhausted-with-a-residual-dash-of-angry, can’t remember anything and generally feel like trash all the time.
The pandemic has done battle with you on so many fronts. You lost something or someone you couldn’t properly grieve and that is traumatic. But don’t forget what you did. You did such hard and meaningful things. You may not remember, but you were a kind of home to someone at some point in the past year. Something you said or did was a lighthouse, a reason for another to keep going. Did you bring a quarantined friend some groceries or a meal? Did you sew masks for nurses last spring? Did you rearrange your life to care for a child? You probably did.
Think of all the people who would love to give you a hug right now. This pandemic year has probably physically and metaphorically pushed you out of the arms of some and into the arms of others. Some of us saw our partners and family too much and others not enough. You’re an extrovert and this has been far too isolating of a time, or you’re an introvert who now gets so little time alone. Maybe the only self-care you’ve had in a year is the peaceful two minutes you take for yourself before getting out of the car. Friend, you are not alone.
Maybe you’re so tired of working shifts that you’re told are heroic but that no one seems grateful for anymore, least of all your household. Maybe you’re so burned out of doing financial acrobatics every time a new bill shows up. You’re weary of cutting out more again to make the budget work. Maybe you’re so close to giving up.
Perhaps the church we said was “deployed” last year now seems like it’s in exile. This second Lent layered on top of that may leave you spiritually numb or lost or questioning God. Communal gratitude has never been so hard to practice.
Surely though, this year you also did something you would never have done otherwise, particularly in raising children. Everything about caring for kids got more involved and intense—more expensive, more time-consuming, more energy-consuming. It still takes a village to raise a child and what we’ve had is a ghost town.
You probably have spent more time with the kids this year than you have in a while. Now don’t be hard on yourself and say But this was not high-quality time! I was busy and they were on screens! We were not in good moods! We mostly weren’t doing crafts or playing board games! Give yourself some credit. You were there. In some new way your child learned to be more independent and patient. Go ahead and roll your eyes, but this is likely a time that will pay out a nice dividend in years to come. Can you see this forming them into more empathetic, flexible, compassionate and confident humans in the long run? I can, or at least that’s the hope that keeps me going. Not only that but all this togetherness time has strengthened bonds that will be foundational in the years to come. Sure it got ugly sometimes. Still you stuck together and there’s a kernel of important character-building stuff somewhere in there.
For the past year productivity has not been the thing. Efficiency has not been the thing. Endurance, stamina, and resilience have been the things. Hope has been a thing. Doing the right thing has been a thing. Ultimately, though, this isn’t about what you did. It’s about who you are. You are still here and that is worth celebrating. You, Gorgeous, are beloved of God. You are worth celebrating.