Many of us walked into 2020 with a picture of what we thought our year would look like. In the blink of an eye, many of the things we planned came to a sudden halt. COVID-19 took to the stage of our lives, making the course of our life for the next couple months look nothing like anything we imagined. So much of our life has had to be replaced with something else. As grateful as we are for our ability to live life virtually, change is still hard. Doing most of life through a screen is hard. Replacing what we are used to with something that is only half as good, is hard. There are things that we can let go of though, that don’t have to be replaced with zoom meetings or social distancing. We can cling to these things during this time, and maybe even bring them forward in life with us once all of this is over. Here are two things that I have had to let go of during this pandemic, in order to be my best self and continue glorifying the Lord every step of the way.
Let go of expectations and replace it with expectancy. I think we can all say that we fill our days and lives with expectations, even unintentionally. We expect the outcomes in our lives to be a direct reflection of the time and attention we give to the things we work hard for. Some of these things are: careers, finances, traveling, relationships, church, school, and parenthood.
What happens though when a global pandemic takes all that we have worked for, turns it upside down, and gives it a new name?
Our expectations have been shattered regardless of the efforts we have put in thus far. I know for me, I have had to let go of my daily expectations that I have placed on myself and my children. Our only hope during this time, is to have a posture of expectancy and fix our eyes on Jesus.
Both expectation and expectancy have the same starting line; it’s the finish line that sets them apart. They both start with the word expect, but their different perspectives lead to different destinations. Expectations say “what can I do?” Expectancy says “what will GOD do?” During this time, expect God to keep showing up in all of the dark places. Let go of the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” mentality that much of the world is handing us. We don’t have to have all the answers. Read that last sentence again. Let go of that burden, and believe that God will still get the glory throughout all of this no matter what. Cling to that. Expect it.
Needing to Be Everything for Everyone
Let go of the need to help everyone, and replace it with this reminder: I am not defined by how helpful I am. If you are anything like me, then you are someone who lives their life searching for love and acceptance through how much you do for other people. That is me. This pandemic has been an interesting journey for me because of that. I went through two stages. The first stage I went through was absolute panic. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of people that needed helping and supporting, that I became irrationally obsessed with it. Then once I recognized that I couldn’t help people in all the ways I desired to, I started to realize how freeing it was to really embrace that. Of course this does not mean that I don’t desire to be helpful at all; but that I was able to release the burden of defining myself through this process by how helpful I was being.
This second stage for me was eye opening once I really sat comfortably in it. As an extrovert, I didn’t understand at first why I haven’t been hating social distancing. Then I began to realize that my ability to “over pour” in all of my relationships, has caused me to become tired without even realizing it. Even within my close friendships I find myself unintentionally pouring more than I am allowing myself to be poured into. This pandemic has slowed all of us down and minimized our time together with shorter and sometimes even less frequent connections; and sadly I needed it.
If you are reading this as someone who also feels this way, do not put guilt and shame upon yourself because of it. I have had to let go and “let God”. I have set aside how the world says I should feel about all of this, and replaced it with TRUTH about who God says I am during this time. I will unapologetically enjoy the social simplicity of this. There’s a reason why on a plane they say to put YOUR oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else. You cannot help someone if you are gasping for air yourself. Stop helping everyone with their masks first, take a deep breath, and rest in the truth that you are not defined by how helpful you are. You are sons and daughters of the King. Jesus got this. He will let you know if he wants your assistance.
So stand with me, in a posture of expectancy; and rest in the promises of Jesus. That’s the best thing you can do for anyone right now.