Why it is okay to Lament in the Pandemic

I've definitely had my emotional meltdown in this pandemic, which as Ashley so eloquently described to us, was indeed freeing.Our lives, as so many of yours took a dramatic “full speed ahead approach” to a staggering halt, at a rate that quite frankly bewildered all of us. That bewilderment began to show itself in all kinds of 7 different ways on the home front.

Behaviors mounted as the days moved on. Little was discussed of the real issues within us. Not because we didn’t want to, it’s just not something that happens naturally in a house full of testosterone. Truth to be told also, we were all just in shock of the transition and trying to process it all. These type settings put me into a "Git 'er done" mentality. I don’t know that Curt Thompson had that approach in mind when in his blogpost "Love and Lament in March Madness", he mentioned the virus coming in like a floodlight and a revelation. I feel like that’s exactly what God is doing, shining the floodlight on our lives, and what it’s revealing is not so much of the good stuff. Since there's nowhere to go to escape this reality, I feel forced to deal with it. So then like Sherlock Holmes with his one eye plastered against the lens, I headed towards the general direction of the light to see what I can do about it. My prayer was that I may be able to embrace whatever was exposed in order to bring healing and deepened connections in our home. As exhausting as it was, we began reaping in small doses the benefits of the hard work that we were doing. I began to see the rewards in conversations that we are having and in special moments that were being created as a result.So this gave me a great idea, to lean into this direction with intent.

Jedd Medefind and Curt Thompson said in a webinar that I got to hear bits and pieces of (due to the ever-present beautiful distractions that I live with, that know all of my hiding spots) to pay attention and be intentionally with connections. So, in an effort to do exactly that within the confines of this social isolation, I felt it necessary to bring some of the “unsaids” into the revealing light. Now heaven forbid, we have a sit-down discussion with each other, as some might do. So, I made it a game (similar to fishbowl but really nothing like it also). Here’s the idea:

For some of your older kids, you could ask if they have any discussion questions to add to the bowl, but in this case, I just wrote each question on a small piece of paper, and then folded each one up and put all of the following questions in a big bowl. (Technically since this is all typed, you could just print this out and cut them, if you want to use any of my questions.)

How do you feel about the social isolation?
What’s good about this quarantine?
What’s hard about being made to stay home?
What’s scary about Covid-19?
What can we all do to help each other though this unusual time?
What strengths have you seen in each other?
What has this hard time revealed about ourselves that we don’t like?
What’s something that you do that makes you feel good about this quarantine or makes you enjoy it or forget about it?
What something that you’ve done that makes being social distancing harder?
What do you feel like you get from somewhere else, that you don’t get at home?
What do you each need from us as parents during quarantine?
What do you each need from your sibling during quarantine?

After dinner, we passed around the bowl of questions. Each person took turns pulling out a question. The one who unwrapped the question, answered that question first. Then we went around the table and all answered that same question, before the next person took the bowl and drew the next discussion question. Now for my littlest non/struggling reader, we read her question for her and let her go first. There were few rules except for that of a Family Meetings and Nurture Groups, which is Respect of Others, including kindness and taking turns. One rule that we added was that, “I don’t know”, was not a permissible answer. It didn’t have to be a paragraph, but at least one word answers were requested.

It was so wonderful for all of our ages, and even though “wonderful” not the word that my teenage boys would use to describe it, it made a noticeable difference in our home, that even they couldn't deny. It created so many building blocks for conversations that we continued to have sporadically over the next week. It named some fears and frustrations and as a result calmed some behaviors that we were seeing. We got to empathize with each other and see the different ways in which we all deal with uncertainty. It created a non-judgmental platform of honest vulnerability that is not easy to come by these days. You should definitely try it!

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