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  • Writer's pictureSam Alvis

For Those of You Whose Lives Will Never Return to "Normal."

Many are celebrating in this season as we slowly begin to emerge out of the crisis of this past pandemic year.

We are beginning to have more ability to socialize with others, to move about freely, and to breathe just a bit easier (literally and metaphorically speaking), as well as have less restrictions on our choices, less isolation from our community, and less anxiety about the unknown.

So life should be great, right? Everything’s almost “back to normal”?

Although I am by no means the first to highlight or write about the fallacy and ignorance of the aforementioned viewpoint, I do believe that this is important enough to reiterate:

Many people’s lives will never return to normal.

By no means am I seeking to diminish the celebration and relief that many of us (including myself) are experiencing as we move out of a much more frightened and limited state of existence of the pandemic season.

However, I want to acknowledge that many things happened both before and during the pandemic that have radically wrecked and re-oriented the lives of many (including myself and many of my clients).

I would be ignorant to claim that the following list covers the entirety of ways humans experience suffering and pain, yet I still want to name several circumstances and events that might have happened pre-pandemic (or in the midst of it) that have a long-standing impact on someone’s life:

  • The death of a loved one

  • Diagnosis and management of a chronic health condition

  • Diagnosis and management of a chronic mental health condition

  • Supporting someone with a chronic mental health condition

  • Physical, sexual, emotional abuse

  • The ongoing threat of systemic racism

  • A traumatic accident

  • Caregiving for a loved one with physical and/or special needs

  • Loss of a significant relationship (i.e. divorce, break-up, ending of a friendship, loss of larger community, etc.)

  • Loss of employment

  • Loss of housing

  • Etc…

Looking at this list (again, acknowledging that it is by no means an absolute comprehensive account), I can think of countless individuals in my life or in my direct awareness who fall into one or more of these categories. And if those are just the people whom I have direct knowledge of, think of how many more people are impacted by one or more of these circumstances! For these people, life will continue to be altered from the way it once was.

Perhaps suffering is what actually feels familiar and is the “normal” for many.

So why do I highlight this? To rain on your celebratory parade and to drag you back into a season of grief and pain?

No. Rather, I highlight this so that way we can all remember, support, and show up for those of us whose lives will never return to “normal.” I speak this and write this to encourage us to continue to create space for pain and lament, rather than turn our faces away from our sisters and brothers whose lives continue to be impacted by chronic burdens and sorrows.

Rather than just stand on my soapbox at you and leave, I want to provide you with just a few practical ways to check-in with yourself and others in this season:

  • Set aside time to check-in with yourself: and I mean really check-in. How are you doing? Emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally, mentally, holistically? Take an honest inventory of where you’re at.

  • Connect with a trusted and safe person to share with them how you’re actually doing. No fluff, no toxic positivity, but an honest look of how you are and who you are.

  • After checking in with yourself, explore what steps you might be able to take to help move through or maintain in this season.

  • Check in with those who you already know are struggling in one of the above ways. Genuinely ask how they are and how you can support them. Now, and moving forward.

  • Check in on those in your community who you might assume are doing well. Ask how they’re genuinely doing. Make space for anything that comes up and ask how you can support them.

  • Reach out for additional support- either through counseling or in your spiritual community. If you are looking for counseling support, click here to learn more about my practice or to schedule a consultation.

So my friends, whether you are moving towards a season of respite or if you continue to endure a long season of suffering, be kind to yourself and one another, remembering that you might not know what the person next to you is carrying.

Romans 8:18-25

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”


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