I dedicate this article to Doug who has taken the brunt of my bad behavior, and still loves me. “Love is hard. Love is seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.” Ann Lamott
This pandemic has taken a toll. I noticed something was really off when I couldn’t enjoy tennis. While on the court, unable to focus, my mind was writing an angry email requesting a medical exemption for Ian. (Our state now requires a mask whenever you leave your home, even during outdoor exercise.) And Ian has been enjoying, one-on-one, outdoor, socially distanced PT sessions, often the highlight of his day. In the Albuquerque heat, with a brain injury and a history of seizures, exercise while wearing a mask, in my view is lunacy. Something snapped when our governor mandated these tighter restrictions. I was mad— mad at her, mad at Covid-19, mad that Ian is so isolated that a PT session is a highlight, mad that I can’t comfortably worship at my church, mad I can’t travel, mad fall plans are disrupted. JUST MAD. Plain and simple.
When I mentioned my struggle, I was ashamed to learn that Doug has noticed this for awhile. Instead of saying something, he has been walking on egg shells to avoid the time bomb hoping he wouldn’t cause detonation. Unfortunately, as is often the case with those we love, he was. And what was the evil thing he said to pull the pin? “Debbie, you need to let it go.” Letting it go for a control freak is like opening a carbonated beverage after it’s been shaken. It requires some guts, slow deliberate resolve and a place for the contents to spill.
For way too long I’ve been holding it together, pretending I’m ok. I force a smile, and go through the motions. The truth is… I feel guilty. My family is healthy, Doug is still working and Albuquerque provides a lot of opportunity to enjoy downtime. How dare I! Mark Twain was onto something. “Anger is an acid that does more harm to the vessel where it is stored than to anything onto which it is poured.” After a long ugly cry, with the Lord’s gentle help, together we have examined the wreckage.
My explosion, while unpleasant, has been cathartic. And has forced me to STOP. DROP and ROLL. I wrote about this before in my article… Surviving the Wilderness. And I’ve revisited my own advice.
1. STOP for some perspective
Look around. Consider our surroundings. Where are we exactly? You don’t need me to point out the fact that in 2020 “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The terrain is treacherous, the horizon blurred and the path uncertain. Yep… unmistakably, we are in the wilderness. I have been here before. And pretending it’s not the wilderness is not only unhelpful but also disorienting. Perspective is critical.
2. DROP to your knees to pray
I am rarely at a loss for words. But there are times, many times, when I don’t know what or how to pray. On those occasions, I often read the Psalms for comfort. If you haven’t discovered lament, perhaps now is the time.
The definition of lament is… “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” And that is what I’ve needed. I can relate to Davids lament in Psalm 13.
Psalm 13 — A lament of David
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
3. ROLL — Trust Him
This third step of survival in the wilderness can’t be overstated. For lament to serve a fruitful purpose, there must be a BUT. (See Psalm 13:5) But …I trust in your unfailing love. Doug was partially right… I do need to let it go. I can’t fix my wilderness. I can’t carry the burden of 2020. But it’s more than just letting go. How do I resist picking it back up? Someone has to carry it. It’s important I transfer control to the only One I can trust to handle it. My sovereign Lord.
Only when I allow Him to carry it, am I freed to take my eyes off of me. And that has been the most humbling lesson of all. During this strange time of isolation it has been way too easy to focus on ME, ME, ME. My selfishness stoked by anger, blinded me to everyone else out there struggling through their own treacherous wilderness.
Dear Father, I praise you for the truth of scripture. I do trust Your unfailing love. You have been good to me. Thank you for your faithfulness in spite of my forgetfulness. Not recognizing my surroundings, I had lost my way. Dependent on your grace and mercy, help me to be content to walk with you through this wilderness. Give me the strength to see beyond myself and gracefully endure. Help me to trust your sovereignty in all of it.
GodsGotThis, Debbie Hucke
Allison Jeran says
Your message really touched me. I’ve been mad too here in New York. Thankfully our COVID numbers are going down, but it’s been long and hard and with a bipolar 23-year-old (unmedicated) at home full time (along with other psychological issues), it’s been extremely difficult. I find myself ‘blowing’ despite attempts to let off steam (running, etc.) Thanks for reminding me I am not alone and there is much to be grateful for.
Thanks for checking in Allison…. all the way from NY. I will say a prayer for you today.
Deana Heisler says
Hugs to you Deb. So much…I have lost my church (COVID practices and a new priest – sent in to “straighten out” our fun loving, Jesus loving, welcoming parish…ughh) and my praise and worship band that has been together for 20 years is done – for now. The stories of “dying on the vine” are overwhelming. So hard to hear about Ian – that’s a difficult one to swallow. Praying for you and yours. Yes we will rise up again. What does God have in store for us? The waiting and the introspection on what our “work of the day” is to be has been abrupt and so challenging when the overwhelming majority of the people in our lives are experiencing the same. Sending love and light💜
Good to hear from you Deana. Hugs right back.
Anne kole says
Oh Debbie, you are not alone in your lament! God hears you and holds you. He holds Ian as you advocate for him. And I lament too. So many things that have filled my life with joy are “closed”. I’m learning about virtual violin lessons, how to take my morning walk masked, how to encourage my family long distance with no hope of visiting them soon. To top it off, something messed up the transmission of Sunday’s on-line worship service and I couldn’t fix it. But I too have many thanksgivings! Enough health and strength to care for my husband, who struggles with health issues; a lovely home; God’s word; and retirement income. How thankful I am for small things: a gentle cool breeze, birdsong, and hot coffee. God hears us and will see us through this strange time. Hang in there Debbie! Thank you for sharing your struggles and your faith.
Thanks Anne. Circumstances do have a way of clearing the decks to realize what we really have that matters.
Betsy Everett says
I too am raising my hands to heaven asking ” God how long will this go on!”
I too want to fix everything myself.
There has to be a solution, right!
Thank you for sharing, as always.
And thank you Anne for your beautiful comments.
Oh Betsy, I love knowing another frustrated hand raiser. We will get through this.
Amen and Amen! Thank you for your honesty. May each of us grow in our trials, mature in our faith, as we choose to hold the Lord’s Hand with eyes on Him. In faith we are called to act… hold tightly, pray harder, seek Him in His word, and let the Lord in His Sovereignty work.
Denise… indeed. It is our only hope!
Gail wagner says
I, too, am a control freak and letting go letting God has always been a huge struggle for me! I need to fix everything. I appreciate you sharing your hard times. We are not alone! With all that is happening, God’s got this!
Thank you for your heart.
thanks for standing with me Gail. The struggle is real. But thankful so is our Creator and Lord.
I read your message just after listing my fairly petty laments: why didn’t the yard and handyman come, where are our lost belongings, why are there still so many details….AND .why is my granddaughter going deaf?
Now I will stop, drop, and roll. God is hear to catch me and reset me.
Thank you Debbie.
Prayers for you and yours Martha. Good to hear from you. Mercies are new every morning!
Paula Koy says
I hadn’t really thought about how the covid 19 way of living has put all of us “in the wilderness”. When in the wilderness, the comforts we are used to are no longer present: we are missing worship in church with fellow believers; fellowship with friends & families; & freedom from carefree wandering, even to the grocery store. We must remember to enter only one door & exit the other, wear our mask, stay 6′ apart, wash our hands again & again. Yet when the Israelites wandered in their wilderness, God watched over them & provided them with all the basic needs. And God’s blessings remain true today, even during the covid 19 crisis. His blessings are still there…His love, grace, mercy, & His Word which guides us.
God knows of your lament, Debbie. He knows of mine, & all of His children’s sorrows. We are so blessed to have a loving & forgiving Heavenly Father. Thank you for your words today. They helped me to understand a little bit more of the world we are living in today.
I do agree that recognizing where we are is step one for coping. Thank you Paula.
John Reith says
Here’s the deal. We think of grief as something that is experienced in the death of a loved one. But grief is experienced in life when we sense loss of any kind. And we have all suffered loss greatly through is covid pandemic. And in the process of grief, people express their emotions at times rather irrationally. I suspect that most Americans aren’t even aware that they are going through a grief process. But we all are! Which means we need to ba aware of what we are going through and be aware that we are not alone. Maybe we could be more patient and understanding of others if we all were to approach others with some empathy.
Amen. Covid19 is a dying moment for EVERY ONE of us. Typically the unaffected ones are able to comfort the grieving ones. How tricky that it has hit us all at once. I agree that we are all grieving. But I am thankful that that understanding invites more empathy.
Sheila Harris says
Thank you! As you know stewing with anger has become a constant situation for me. Although I am not a major control freak, this world of government restrictions is making me crazy. Always the answer it to rest on Jesus. Thank you for reminding me.
I’m sure it’s all just adding up for me too. It’s a lot even on our best days. Stay the course Sheila.
Liz Bass says
Debbie, you hit these times right smack on top of its head. Thank God we have an advocate that promised to always be there for us. I find myself thinking ‘ok Lord, where are you, can you hear me, and how longer is this isolation and
fear going to last’. I ask forgiveness for my blow ups, but I have a life time of things and people to be so grateful for. My first prayer is always to name these gifts in my life.
Debbie, I thank you so much for your wonderful devotions. It’s amazing to me how often you have grabbed my thoughts and emotions.
Will be wonderful when we can see each other face to face.
I can’t wait, dear Liz. Stay the course.
Katherine Ott says
Yes, yes, yes to all you’ve said, Debbie. I’ve been struggling with my own “mad.” I’m depressed I have to wear a mask during my morning walk. I’m depressed I can’t see my kids and grandkids. I’m depressed I can’t plan something to look forward to. I’m depressed I don’t know when and if I’ll ever see my mother again. And then God calls . . . or rather I call daughter Zoe and she shares with me the grief her friends are going through — three different families who recently lost a child. I weep when I realize how small my “suffering” is and beg God for His forgiveness and understanding.
I learned long ago that pain is pain. Comparing pain is a work of the enemy. Your frustrations and my frustrations are LEGIT even if they seem trivial comparatively. His grace and mercy is accessible and needed for us too. Thanks for chiming in.
Mary Seal says
It’s been an up-and-down rollercoaster, for sure. Your experiences sound pretty normal to me! I was watching a Mark Lowry video online the other night, and he said something that was both hilarious and insightful: If David had had Prozac, we wouldn’t have the Psalms!
Thank goodness we do have the Psalms. I look forward to seeing you again hopefully SOON!
Diane Newswander says
You are not alone in your anger and frustration. Thank you for sharing your human tendencies as we all have them. I will feel it rising up in me and have to set my focus on God to get it under control. He is the only one who can turn it around for me! I try to be thankful for what I still have in front of me and that I still have a job and my health. We are all in this boat together just like Noah and his family once were! We will keep each other going with love and prayers! Keep publishing your wonderful blog Deb! Love reading your words!
Thx Diane. Reminds me of the line… and so by the grace of God, go I.
Barb Frans says
I find myself angry over many things lately. All the hate. The president The virus. Masks. I want it all to stop. Praying constantly for strength.
Finding it harder & harder to let it go.
You aren’t alone Barb. I know letting it go has liberated me. OF course it isn’t a once a done. I’ll lift you in prayer. Debbie
Well, the timing to read this and the comments is exactly what I needed today. I, too, exploded yesterday at dear friends over some political comment which we should all ignore in these times. After talking to the friend, going for a walk (with a mask for Pete’s sake), doing a silver sneakers yoga class and reading this blog, I think I can let it go and focus on what I should have in the first place.
Trust, prayer and patience to help me through this wilderness.
Take comfort you are not alone Kerry. And get right back on the horse. Mercies are new every morning.
Marilyn Lehning says
Thank you for sharing! I hate how easy we get into lock step, it is scary! Wearing a mask outside, do you really think our air is unsafe I am vulnerable, and stay in, a ride in the car is my going out. Thankful my daughter does our shopping, she will not shop where masks are required, we do not buy into this mindset. Of course masks are needed at hospitals, etc but look at the anger being expressed by too many if you decide to go unmasked. Pray God’s will and hope he wants us to remain free. Please forgive me if my opinion offends.
Hang in there Marilyn. Thank goodness He is in control.
Geraldine Dempsey says
Well, all of the bad political news doesn’t help. Schools are down, no dining inside, riots, etc. Is there anything good? Well, you just answered the question, and great quotes both from the Bible and Mark Twain.
Hang in there Gerry. We will get through this.