We respond uniquely these days as we re-enter life. For the younger and currently mothering, some choices weigh heavily. Emily Humphries helps us sort through our responses.
Wrestling with Re-Entry
By Emily Humphries
This summer has been a strange one. It has felt a bit like stepping into a world I once knew, and seeing signs of the familiar, but everything has changed. Since the onset of the pandemic, no part of our family’s life has gone untouched. Both my husband and I buried a parent in early 2020, (his mother, followed by my father). Weeks later, as the pandemic took root in the U.S., we contemplated the future of our respective careers (both dealing with crowds, entertainment, and events). Still raw from the sting of our losses, still answering our children’s questions about death, still facing change and the brokenness of this world, we ventured into a whole new territory of unknowns.
During that initial slow fade into last summer, there was a measure of comfort to feel all of these things alongside the rest of the world. It felt appropriate that time would stand still, because in my heart it felt preposterous for it not to. Our world had been completely turned upside down by loss and change, and everything and everyone around us were different too.
Fast forward to a sunny parking lot a few months ago. Several mothers from our church were gathering with their preschoolers at the playground. I knew my son was desperate for outside time with other kids. I was excited to talk to other adults. And yet, when we arrived, I found myself shaking and white-knuckling my steering wheel. I debated throwing the car into reverse and heading back home. “What is wrong with me?” I remember saying over and over under my breath as I tried to reason through what was happening.
The idea of gathering in a group, especially with my kids, was something I wanted for so long, but in that moment the idea of remembering how to be social and feel safe felt utterly foreign. After several fortifying breaths, I finally started the process of unpacking the car and walking towards the playground. It was a great afternoon. Sweet conversations were had, and little boy friendships were formed over the activity of earthworms. But sometime during the experience, a thought occurred to me: “The normalcy of this is overwhelming.”
As the world is attempting to move on, to return to “normal,” I’m still learning how to do so—in so many ways. Not only do I have to accept what has changed about life, but how much I’ve changed in the process, and what is yet to be grieved, too. There is a unique grief to our family situation in this strange reality without our parents, and we also feel so much of the uncertainty and grief in the big and small losses our friends and neighbors have experienced as well.
Can you relate to that at all? What has changed in your life over the last year? It seems no one has gone untouched by loss, whether that’s the loss of a loved one or simply the loss of time and structure. Many have lost livelihoods, while others have discovered passions they may not have pursued otherwise. No matter where this finds you, I hope you know that it’s okay to feel many things at once, and it's okay to be overwhelmed while navigating “normal.” It’s also okay to have a different experience from your family member, friend, or neighbor.
I’m so encouraged by this verse in this season: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known before, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16).
There is no season or place we cannot be led through by the Lord. Being in an unfamiliar place where you cannot see what comes next is not a comfortable position to navigate, but the Lord comforts us there. Psalm 61:2 says, “When I am overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” He leads, he guides, and he takes us as we are; trembling hands, overwhelmed hearts, and all. The Lord will not leave us, and there is no place that is unknown to him. May we find the courage to follow him wherever he leads, no matter how we feel.
Emily Humphries is a woman who loves Jesus, her family, words, and coffee (although things don't honestly always run in that order). Emily loves sharing about the activity of God in her life and creating space for others to gather 'round the table and share their stories too. You can hang out with Emily over on her blog, her podcast Simply Stories via simplyshenanigans.com or on Instagram, @simplyemhumph / @simplystoriespodcast