Reassurance. Uncertainty. Comfort.
These words were on my heart this morning after my very ordinary task of dropping the kids off at school.
For the past 18 months, people all over the world have been enduring a season of change. A season of unknowns. A season of new normals . A season of new routines and uncertainty. For the past month, those new normals have changed again in Papua New Guinea – bringing new restrictions in the hopes of slowing the spread of Covid within this beautiful country. We are eager to do what we can to act as respectful guests in this country and, by the grace of God, we’ve been able to continue to have in-person school but not without changes in the community. Masks indoors and outdoors, distancing as much as possible, departments around centre closing earlier, limited or no interaction with other families, postponed community groups, ‘zones’ for recess at the Primary Campus so that students interact with their grades and at a distance from other grades. School or work, home and back to school or work. Repeat.
Changes. New routines. New normals.
While we understand the need for these changes, the long term effects of these past 18 months were evident to me this morning.
Since the new restrictions came into place, I’ve noticed a change with Elliott. Our routine used to be: drop Jon & Ben at the high school, drive to the Primary Campus, park and walk Jacob, Elliott & Lucy to the gate. Get temperatures checked, get hand sanitizer and release Elliott & Jacob to go play with their friends while I wait with Lucy as she likes to soak up as much mom-time as possible.
New restrictions means no outdoor play before school but straight to classrooms and Elliott seems to be having the hardest time. It’s not the biggest change but it’s just enough to ignite his uncertainty, demand my reassurance and seek comfort constantly on the walk. A walk to the gate becomes a walk to the classroom and a hug and ‘see you later’ has become a verbal stream of reassurance-seeking vocalizations from an unsure eight year old followed by numerous runs back to mom for one more hug and often tears.
I video’d part of our interaction yesterday morning, partly so that I could show Jon and we could talk about how to help Elliott, partly so that I could share this prayer request with all of you and partly because it got me thinking. As I watched it back later, I was struck by the emotions displayed in his actions and I felt a familiarity. An understanding. A kinship.
Here is my child. Running to me. Again and again. Weeping. Seeking reassurance of my presence. Rattled by his circumstances – possibly not even sure why he needs me but knowing that all he needs is one more look. One more word. One more hug. One more minute.
Isn’t that my heart too? It isn’t just our kids who have struggled over the past year and a half. This has been hard. Uncertainty has rattled our lives and challenged our foundations. Things we took for granted have been altered or removed. Our physical community has become smaller, replaced by our virtual community. Our ability to mourn and celebrate with one another has been affected. Our understanding of how life should look has been shaken.
Perhaps you’re like Elliott and you’re crying out today. You don’t know why you’re unsettled, unsure and out of control. You don’t why today is harder than yesterday. Maybe there isn’t a clear reason but, simply the ongoing effects of 18 months of change welling up in a morning of emotions. Whatever it is, know that you’re not alone. In our household, we have a vast array of challenges that we bring to the table – ADHD, ADD, Anxiety, & others. Challenges that sometimes amplify our frustrations and complicate our ability to handle the changes that have been present in the world.
But, we also serve an amazing God. A God who made each of us just as we are and who knew that these situations would arise before time began. Who doesn’t have plans to harm us but plans to prosper us and give us a hope and a future – not so that we can be self sufficient and forget about Him but so that we can cry out to Him and discover that He will hear us.
So, these days, I am reminded of where we find our strength. I am reminded, through the vulnerable and honest tears of my eight year old, that change and challenge need not amplify my weakness and lead me to despair but, instead, amplify my need for a Saviour and send me running to His arms.
My need to control replaced with surrender.
My need for answers replaced with truths from His words.
My need for reassurance replaced with His presence.
Instead of being dropped off at the gate of our day to do it on our own, we can find ourselves looking to our Father for more. One more look. One more word. One more hug. One more minute. The truth is that we’ve always had that offer extended to us. We don’t have to go at it alone, nor should we. Jesus doesn’t want us to leave Him behind because we feel self sufficient. He wants to come with us. Wants to walk with us. Wants to comfort us. Wants to help us make sense of this new reality. Of this new existence.
Where we see chaos. He brings calm.
Where we see confusion. He brings clarity.
Where we see confinement. He brings connection.
He is waiting for us with reassurance, certainty and comfort and He is just as in control as He was 18 months ago.
This morning, my sweet boys tears reminded me of my loving Saviour’s sacrifice for me, His unfathomable love for me and His unending pursuit of my heart.
When I run, He is there.
When I cry, He is there.
When I feel alone, He is there.
If you are in a place of chaos, confusion and confinement, it is my prayer that you would run back to the gate and find that He’s been there all along, just waiting for an invitation. Welcome Him in. He loves you, He will go with you and He will absolutely be enough for everything you might face.
If you are a person of prayer, would you pray for the youth of Ukarumpa, just as we continue to pray for the youth and young adults in Canada? Would you pray that they might run to the Father during these times of uncertainty and that this deep dependance on Him would become a way of life. Thank you, friends.