When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life
Well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
-R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts
I was at a socially distanced, outdoor gathering recently and came to a strange realization. I had very little to say to anyone – even people who I care deeply about. After the initial “How are you doing?” we quickly ran out of small-talk.
Usually, there are a few go-to conversation starters. “What are your plans for Thanksgiving?” “How was your vacation?” etc. But right now, the answers are already know. We’re in a pandemic. Plans are interrupted. Nothing is going as planned. Our jobs are more stressful, our travel arrangements are cancelled, and for many, even family gatherings are necessarily put on hold. We’re all struggling, and we’re not good at talking about our struggles. Especially in informal settings.
But this goes deeper than small-talk. People miss social gatherings. They miss the way school used to function, the way their job used to function, and the way church services used to function. They miss family and travel. The truth is, everyone is grieving right now. With very few exceptions, people are hurting.
For some, it is fear. For others, loneliness. Some are secretly coping with depression or anxiety. Some are uncomfortable with the social changes. But everyone is grieving.
And here’s the kicker: That includes you.
I was recently cornered with frustration and accusations. It was a friend who cornered me; a friend who I can normally depend on to be level-headed and patient. I don’t think that this friend intended to hurt me. Rather, I think she doesn’t recognize how much she’s grieving. Her out-of-character outburst still hurt, but after reflection, I think that the accusations and frustration are less about her frustrations with me (though I have certainly learned and grown from them), and more about her insecurities, fear, and grief.
There’s a good chance that you are grieving right now. Perhaps not openly, as at a funeral. You may be grieving quietly, and you might not even recognize your grief. Unprocessed grief is far more dangerous than the grief we recognize, and it is far more difficult to heal from the grief we are incapable of seeing in ourselves.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). In a time when we have experienced lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, few of us have experienced rest. We now carry heavier burdens than ever. And when our strength is in our own efforts and abilities, we will quickly find ourselves worn out and overloaded. Now is a time in which the spiritual disciplines of reading scripture, entering prayer, and finding solitude may be more necessary than ever. How are you protecting your spiritual health? How are you protecting your emotional and physical health? How are you laying your fears, insecurities, and grief at the feet of Jesus?