It is safe to say that this year has brought with it many adjustments, from navigating being sequestered at home to learning how to build community over zoom and other video conferencing platforms. This year has been nothing short of challenging. As a Christian who is devoted to God, the church, and the community, I can still admit that 2020 has been hard. I have found myself feeling isolated, anxious, and frustrated. At times, I have given into these feelings. I allowed myself to feel them fully; to be completely outdone with 2020, to say I am completely ok with taking an “L” for the year. Having a few of these moments helped me realize that something in me needed to shift in order to make it out alive and intact.

I was so busy adjusting the tangible things like my work schedule, my home life, my home office and my son’s make-shift classroom that I failed to adjust my mindset. It is unrealistic to expect our pace, productivity, and expectations to remain the same given the list of other adjustments we have had to make. It is unfair to expect to be your normal overachieving, get-it-done-now, to-do-list driven- self in the midst of a major life change. And yes, I am saying the pandemic is a major life change. One that has forced us to arm ourselves habitually with hand sanitizer, a mask and social distancing. One that has forced us into physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic discomfort and dis-ease.  One that seems like it will be with us, unfortunately, for the foreseeable future. I along with the rest of the United States are in the midst of a life changing event – a pandemic. Yet, even in this place, I have learned a valuable, life preserving lesson.

This year has taught to me to be gentle with myself. It has taught me that while we are extending extra grace and mercy to those we encounter, we should extend that same grace and mercy to ourselves. It has taught me to not be so critical of myself and others. For many of our spouses, children, teachers, city officials, pastors, doctors, nurses, families, and friends, this is the very first time we have had to learn how to live through a pandemic. This is the first time we have had to love each other from a distance; the first time we have had this much uncertainty knock on the door of our personal experience. Therefore, we are fragile, afraid, nervous, suspicious, cautious, and frustrated all while trying to be positive, productive, effective, nurturing, patient, and caring. That in and of itself is exhausting. Therefore, it imperative that we give ourselves a break; cut ourselves some slack. It’s ok if the schedule doesn’t go exactly as we planned. It’s ok if the tablet stops working in the middle of virtual 1st grade. It’s ok if we don’t accomplish everything on the to-do list. After all, we are attempting to live through a pandemic, and we are doing the very best we can. 

As we are gentle with ourselves, we can let go of the pressure to move faster and accomplish more. We can slow down long enough to recognize that our current pace is just fine and that what we are accomplishing is sufficient. We are able to finally see that we needed this shift. We needed to make this adjustment. We needed to be gentle, more loving, more assuring, more patient, with ourselves.