Parenting with a Pastor: That is... Not What I Planned
I had a very set plan to write an Epiphany blog post on Wednesday, Jan 6th. I was going to share how I planned to celebrate with my family and give ideas for you to celebrate with yours. I had a whole Epiphany party planned for the kids, including taking a gift of bread to a friend. I was going to tell the about the wise men visiting Jesus and his family (a while after Jesus’s birth, in a house, we’ve muddled things with the Nativity story), and the gifts that they brought. We were going to talk about the goodness of giving gifts to show respect and love. We were going to make crowns, and eat King’s cake, and it was going to be a blast. Unfortunately, our sitting president incited his followers to stage a coup, a mob then invaded the Capitol in D.C., senators and congress people were evacuated, and our democracy was threatened. As a result, our plans changed.
Obviously, our Epiphany party being upstaged my an armed coup was probably the least of the collateral damage of their actions, but it does point to something that nobody is really addressing. How do we cope when a few people, through their illegal and highly dangerous actions, completely disrupt the world and cause widespread anxiety and distress. How does anyone make that right? There is definitely a part of me that wants to demand satisfaction from… someone. On Thursday I planned to record my weekly worship parts in full makeup, looking calm and professional and exuding pastoral authority. Instead, my daughter wanted to paint and I wanted to pause the world for a minute and enjoy that time with her. We recorded worship pieces together, her and I, while painting and talking about how joy is an important part of worship and our relationship with God and each other. There was a brief respite of fun and enjoyment. And then delivery guys showed up with doors and windows that were supposed to be delivered to the contractor, and I had to call my (very nice and understanding) landlord and while dealing with that I noticed our neighbors occasional use of our yard as their dog’s bathroom had gotten way out of hand and our yard was covered in other people’s dog’s poop and everything got disrupted, again. I got mad and exhausted all at once, again.
Did you feel the anxiety of the last few sentences? I know I am feeling it right now as I relive Wednesday, and Thursday. I hope it wasn’t too unpleasant to experience, but I think (hope) I’m making an important point. Wednesday’s events were awful. People died. The 250 year experiment that is the American Democracy was threatened and we all felt the fear of uncertainty. Our children watched, and if they didn’t watch they certainly picked up on the emotions that a lot of us were feeling, and they saw their world threatened. It’s not necessarily a novel experience. There are often things that shake the foundation of our environment and cause us to feel less safe. And when people are the cause of those things, getting angry at them and feeling like they owe us something is an understandable reaction. What then, are we to do?
It would be so nice to have an answer for you. My husband, Geoff, kept telling me to breathe during the riot, and I would share how important breathing exercises are for dealing with anxiety, but I wanted to scream at him because I WAS BREATHING DAMMIT AND THE BAD THINGS KEPT HAPPENING! I didn’t get a chance to scream at him, he was trying to help via text while he was at work. It was a little bit therapeutic to type that sentence in all caps and at least do some virtual screaming. Of course virtual screaming based on zero fact and a lot of anger is what got us into this situation, but I digress. In one paragraph I think I’ve had a my own epiphany party because I realized that telling people how to deal with their anxiety and their threatened existence isn’t a good idea, because who among us really knows? I can tell you though what I’m going to do, and maybe it will help you find your own ways. I’m going to keep breathing (that doesn’t mean you’re right Geoff, because I don’t want you to be). I’m going to play with my kids, because they just came up with about twenty different amusing adventures with their stuffies while I’ve been writing and I don’t know why I’m missing out on that fun. Eventually I’m going to do chores and try and get Christmas decorations down. I’ll probably feed the kids and myself too, because people keep telling me that’s an important thing to do. I’m going to change my daughter’s pull-up because she just shared that she made a mess in it and dealing with that is important too. To sum it all up, I’m going to live. I’m going to praise God for the chance to live, and pray when things get scary, and I’m going to live. I will also pray for all of you, that God will be with you as you find your own ways to keep living when things get scary. Be blessed everyone.