Our oldest son, his wife, and their two young children were scheduled to visit us this weekend. It’s the only break in my son’s graduate studies program, the only weekend he could spare because of study time. But then, because my granddaughter Olive’s CHD status turns a potential coronavirus contagion to a life-and-death situation for her, they’ve wisely cancelled the visit. My son is working full-time from home so the only exposure their family gets is the weekly trip get food and supplies. Because my husband still commutes into work a few days a week to access files he can’t from home, they felt the risk too high.
I understand. I agree staying home, mitigating their risk is the wise thing to do.
But I don’t like it. Not one bit. I was so looking forward to Judah and Olive hugs, to hosting my son and his wife, and perhaps even give them a break from the insane amount of attention two children under four require. The quashing of this much-anticipated visit feels like one more small death. One tiny death caused by an invisible virus that is racking up death tolls all over the world.
I get it. In comparison to losing the life of a loved one, this temporary loss of connection is infinitesimally small. But when added to the list of other losses we’re shouldering as a result of Coronavirus risk—a much-needed and anticipated vacation-cancelled, church and bible studies-cancelled, appointment for new contact lenses—cancelled, a plummeting retirement account balance, and so on and so on—this cancellation was the straw that broke this camel-haired grandma’s heart. I cried.
And that’s a good thing. I need a break from time to time: A good cry to flush out a heart heavy from reading myriad accounts of human suffering as well as my own minor suffering. If Mister Rogers taught us anything, it’s that hard feelings need to be expressed in a healthy way.
I also need a break from my feelings of calendar-entitlement. A truly humbling heart-break reminds me to make plans with my heart open, open to God’s plan, even when it conflicts with my desires. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed. “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Every new event I add to my calendar should be under-girded with the words God-willing. Small and large.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15
And lastly, I can list all of the things I’m grateful to God for. Fill a page. Anything from loved ones, to an adequate supply of toilet paper. Thank God. Then, thank others.
A simple formula: Acknowledge Grief. Humility. Gratitude.
- Grieve the loss. No matter how big or small. Cry. Yell. Punch pillows. Our feelings aren’t good or bad. They are consequences of being human and real or perceived loss.
- Remember we don’t own our time here. It’s all God’s gift to us. As is our money, our relationships, and every other blessing we have—even toilet paper.
- Demonstrate gratitude. Write a letter to God listing all the blessings we’re grateful for. Send gratitude to all we can at this difficult time.
This virus has the potential to break our hearts in a million ways.
That’s okay. A broken heart can be a great reminder of WHO has our heart in his hands in the first place. And all the ways He showers us with his love.