I woke up this morning with thoughts of an eight-year-old boy, the nephew of one of my kindest friends. He woke up this morning for the first time without his mother’s embrace. She passed yesterday after a very lengthy battle with cancer. Though I didn’t know her or her little boy, I felt myself spiraling for my friend, for her family, and especially for the little one.
As if the out-of-the-ordinary madness of 2020 isn’t enough, unfortunately we also have to deal with dreaded realities like illness and death. The everyday concerns and these hardships combined with the abnormalities of this year can create a perfect stew of unmanageable anxiety and grief.
So how do I cope when life feels impossible and the emotions are too big to manage? In addition to prayer (which we’ll save for another day), I make lists.
Lists, you ask? Not a typical task list but a lists of things I can’t control alongside a list of things I can control.
I can’t bring back the little boy’s mom. I can’t stop the hurt or grief, but I can pray and offer support.
I can’t singlehandedly eradicate the coronavirus, but I can do my part to stop the spread and protect my family and myself by wearing masks and avoiding situations in which social distancing is challenged.
I can’t control how the vote goes tomorrow, but I can control how I participate in the democratic process by exercising my hard-won right and responsibility to vote.
I can’t take away the abuse a friend suffered as a child that continues to hurt and traumatize so many decades later, but I can listen, affirm, pray, and hug.
I can’t make people not be racist, but I can educate and choose to operate from a place of love regardless.
When I was a teen, I encountered the “Serenity Prayer” on the front of a church bulletin, and the first part has been a mantra ever since:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. –Reinhold Niebuhr
The lists help me confront the big scary things in black and white, and then, determine my response to them. More often than not, serenity is the welcomed outcome.
About the Images: The images in this post are the full color versions of the grainy black and white photos in the previous post. I’d mentioned in my latest #treelove post that for Creative Auto shots the camera shoots an original color photo AND processes the “creative photo” at the same time. I don’t like these as much, but this is what happens when I don’t remember where I put the images I’d planned for today’s post.