Tag Archives: Trusting God

Things I’m Learning from COVID-19

It’s been well over a month of social distancing so far. There is so much I’ve learned about myself and my family and my community, living in such an unique and unprecedented time in this generation. I’ve seen a few similarities between this experience and the experience of pregnancy loss. It makes sense because both situations contain abrupt, unexpected change and grief. But there are a couple other similarities, as well.

We are all having varied experiences. While there are cases in every state of this country, I imagine that the experience living in an urban city is very different than the experience living in a rural city. Also, different states gave shelter-in-place orders at different times, affecting social and economic communities differently. Though we are seeing more and more loss moving into all sectors, some have experienced it longer than others. Some places seem to have better access to healthcare than others, which affects both anxiety and the ability to recover from the disease

The same is true in pregnancy loss. Women experience loss at different times in their pregnancies. They may experience multiple losses. Even those losses are different from each other. And access to healthcare and support can also be different among women experiencing loss, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of medical problems.

We are all having varied responses. Primarily, I believe, because we have such different experiences and beliefs, and a lot of fear of the unknown. We don’t know how this will all play out in the months and years ahead, how it will affect our economy and our health in the future. There are people who say we aren’t doing enough, while others say we are overreacting. And in all of the confusion, there are hurt feelings and loss on both sides.

This happens within the pregnancy loss community as well. I can’t tell you how many times people had an answer for what I was going through. Whether I wasn’t trying hard enough, or there was something I wasn’t doing right that was causing my loss. Or that I was overreacting about my loss and needed to move on. None of these responses were helpful, and I can imagine they aren’t helpful in this situation either.

How I Navigate It All

Since seeing the similarities between the two situations, I decided I would try to incorporate some of the thought processes and techniques that helped me through pregnancy loss into this experience as well. These worked for me, and they are great reminders, so I thought I would share them. But, disclaimer, they are in no way an exhaustive list, or a how-to list.

  1. I trust the opinions of my doctors over the opinions of my friends. I know this is a controversial idea. It helped that the doctors who took care of me through each pregnancy had also experienced loss and high risk in their own pregnancies. I think the same is true in this pandemic. We are all experiencing this together, and I think doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers want this to be over as quickly and safely as possible, just like we do.
  2. I also gave grace to those same doctors. They are educated and, yet, they are still humans. They don’t have all the answers, but they are making choices in an effort to save lives, whether pandemic or pregnancy. I am willing to sit in the tension and support those that have made their life’s work to take care of the sick and heal them and prevent others from being sick the best they can.
  3. I practice gratitude. I wish I could honestly say I do this intentionally every day. I do it, most definitely, when my anxiety is high. And it does come naturally to me in quiet moments when I’m making food for my family or folding clothes or interacting with my son (okay, that’s not as quiet of a moment). But gratitude has to be more than just being thankful, it has to breed generosity and kindness.
  4. I use whatever gifts or resources I can to encourage others. Again, this isn’t done perfectly. I could do this better. It’s a day-to-day struggle with my tendency to introvert myself into a hole versus keeping my eyes open to the needs of others. But I’m not too hard on myself, there are glimmers of who I want to be sprinkled throughout my day, whether that is checking in on a neighbor, sharing an encouraging word with a friend, or keeping a generous mentality over my resources. Or just providing safe space.
  5. I give space for others to grieve how and what they need to grieve. Our situation is different than other people’s situations. We all seem to be grieving just a little differently, but if I have learned anything from the pregnancy loss community, it’s that everyone has a right to their grief without others belittling it. I may not completely understand their experience, but I respect it and I honor it.

Of course, leaning on God and allowing him to guide me is interwoven into each of the above 5 things. My trust begins with knowing God is in control and sees a bigger picture than I ever will. That allows me to trust others with grace, find gratitude, generosity, and kindness in all things, and give space to others in their own journey. I don’t have it all figured out, and never will, but God is greater than my understanding, and I can rest in the hope of his promises today, and every day in the future.

Psalm 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

This verse feels like the opposite of the American reaction to adversity. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and outwit the enemy” mentality. Instead this Psalm encourages stillness and putting trust in God, letting go of jealousy.

We want to see the bad guys lose, the underdogs win, but it doesn’t always happen that way. And we get frustrated. But we don’t understand the bigger plan the way God does.

Ultimately, there is a bigger picture. Whether we are called to be still or called to move forward, whether or not we overcome the obstacles and defeat the adversaries, may we continually wait on the Lord, be still in his presence and put our trust in him.

Unsolicited Advice

I was on the phone yesterday with an advertiser.  I handle what little phone book ads we do at my company, and this was one of the bigger company reps.  He was very nice and polite, as most reps are.  The deadline for the book in question, however, was going to be towards the beginning of next year, close to early spring, close to another particular deadline in my little family.

“Just to let you know, I’m expecting, and that deadline might conflict, so let me give you the email of one of my coworkers, just in case.”

“Oh!  Congratulations!  That’s really exciting.  I have three kids of my own, and my wife is a nurse.  We have really enjoyed them.”

“Yea, this is our first, so we are just trying to be extra careful with any plans or deadlines around that time.”

“I completely understand.  I’m sure you get lots of unsolicited advice, but if I can tell you one piece of advice….”

The advice started out pretty mild (just listen to my intuition and raise my kids the way I want to) but eventually, it got pretty specific about how breastfeeding wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and their formula fed baby is now in the gifted classes at his school.  Now, I’m not saying that everyone who has given me advice has been unsolicited.  I’m really blessed to have a loving group of people around me, and I do listen to any advice they are willing to give.  But that unsolicited advice has a way of getting under the skin and has the potential to make me second guess every decision and live in fear of what consequence may come because I chose wrong.

However, this isn’t the first time I have received unsolicited advice in my life.  I got it as I was entering college, on what I should major in or what clubs I should be a part of.  I got it preparing for my wedding, on how much time I should spend planning my wedding and what details must be included.  I got it as a newlywed, on how the right amount of fighting or sex dictated a healthy marriage.  I got it after my miscarriage, on things I should or shouldn’t do if we were ever going to try again.

The funny thing is that if you look at history, every generation thinks at some point that they have it all figured out.  They have learned from the mistakes for former generations and their generation is going to be the one with the best relationships, the smartest and healthiest kids, and the most successful lives.  But the truth is that we don’t have it all figured out.  If we live honestly, then we know that we do the best we can and let God take care of the rest.  There is not one perfect path for everyone.

In the New Testament, this was a common conversation.  Paul was constantly telling the Jews that the Gentiles did not have to live the Jewish life in order to follow Christ.  The Jews were convinced that their way of life was the right way, guaranteed to be the secret to success (even though the biggest names in Jewish history didn’t exactly have it all together).

The reality is life is not a checklist of doing this, not that.  There is no guarantee that a certain order of choices in your life will bring you a certain outcome.  It’s always been messy and chaotic.  Every generation brings challenges, but God’s promise is to be right there with you in that chaos, revealing his heart and guiding you through.

Lately, I’ve been wearing God as a shield around me, especially when the advice starts to come.  Every piece of advice, I know, is given out of love, and I receive it in love.  I know that it’s exciting to have a baby come into this world and the anticipation of everything that can mean.  There is so much to prepare for and so much to wait and see.  I played “A Shield About Me” this morning as a reminder that no matter what path we choose (or sometimes is chosen for us), God is there and He will never forsake you or leave you.  In the midst of struggle, in the midst of not knowing, in the midst of unsolicited advice, he is there, holding your hand every step of the way.