When I consider the long-reaching effects of this pandemic on our children’s mental health, especially our neruodivergent kids, I am overtaken by sadness and an overwhelming sense of desperation. Yet this is almost always accompanied by a deep desire for hope over despair. Hope enough for now.
I recall discussions across social media about the virus and the unknown long-term effects and physical repercussions on the body and was that greater than or equal to the mental health challenges. Is it even possible to compare the two or to choose one over the other? I don’t believe it is. But I believe the long-term effects on my girls’ mental health are starting to show in the short-term.
Right now, I stand more in darkness than light, tears alternately finding their way from my heart to my eyes and other times held fast by my will to keep them within as I watch my 10 year old fight against the darkness of anxiety and depression, her behaviors more intense now than before. I see her bright eyes dim with sadness. I realize her tears are stronger than her resilience right now. I watch her brightness overshadowed by questions of whether there’s something wrong with her and will she always feel this way and will life ever feel happy again.
It has been over a year of Covid. More than 365 days of this pandemic life. And my girls are weary. I am weary. And I am desperate for hope. Hope for the now.
True, we need to give ourselves grace because none of us have lived through a global pandemic before now. Still, I struggle to find the Light, shifting between hope and despair sometimes with each breath I take.
I wrestle with my own emotions as I watch my girls, each of them struggling with anxiety they cannot fully express, but that I see in their behaviors and hear beneath their questions. I see it in their eyes and I hear it in the quiet where laughter used to overflow.
My house has become quieter in the past few weeks as they each swim against the tides of their doubts, their fears, their uncertainty. Their anxiety is like a riptide pulling them away from the shore, wearing them down.
And so I speak life and truth into them.
I point them toward gratitude.
I hold space for them.
I hold their hand or stroke their hair and validate their feelings and their words: this sucks and it’s really hard.
I remind them we can do hard things, even while I wonder when these hard things will give way to the more familiar things of childhood.
And I pray. I pray for them and I pray for me. I pray for hope, at least hope enough for now. And I pray for Light and Truth to pour over us, into us.
And I tell God, this sucks, even though I know He already knows that. I tell Him I’m soul weary and none of this is fair. And I give Him my burdens and ask Him for hope. Hope enough for now.
And I breathe. Deep breaths that remind me I’m still here. In and out. In and out. I’m still here. I’m okay. We’re okay.
At times I pause. I pause in the middle of laundry or while washing the dishes or while doing any number of other ordinary, mundane tasks and I seek the sacred in the quiet. I seek it there, beneath the silence. Because I know if I seek it, I will find it.
I know God beckons me into hope.
And I know, even when I don’t feel it, even when I doubt it, there is hope. I know hope will overtake the despair that also beckons. Even when I can’t feel it, I know there is hope enough for now.
In this season of Lent, I remember Jesus entering Jerusalem and making His way to the cross. I remember His despair, His tears, and His prayers. I recall all the times He went off alone to be with the Father.
And I do the same.
And I embrace His love. Because I need His love. I need His love desperately. So desperately. In His love, in His presence, is where I find the hope my heart so deeply desires. I find hope for now.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4, ESV
I don’t know that I can say I am delighting in God these days, but I am seeking Him. I can say I know He is faithful. I can say my hope is in Him and it comes from Him. I can say He will indeed pour it out to overflowing in my life. I can say I have hope enough for now.