In the three weeks since lockdown started, we’ve all done our best to ‘look on the bright side’, ‘keep our chin up’ and ‘stay positive’. I wrote a rousing blog called My Seven Choices going into Lockdown and another one called How to Stay Joyful During Lockdown. All excellent advice—I meant every word.
We’ve joined online exercise classes, church services and prayer meetings and give thanks daily for modern technology. We send each other motivational quotes, jokes and victorious stories, all meant to boost our moods should they even dare to waver. We remind ourselves that ‘do not fear’ appears so often in the bible that we could cover a whole year and not read the same verse. Fear, we are told, is the opposite of faith, and all we have to do is stand strong.
But I want to ask you something. How are you really doing? How do you truly feel when you’re lying in the dark, the phone is silent and it’s just you and your own thoughts?
Lockdown confessions: how I’m really feeling
I asked myself this question and what I uncovered is not as ‘pretty’ as what I’ve been projecting.
I feel afraid. I fear this pandemic—what it will do to our country and economy and what it could steal from me and my children. And then I feel like a failure that my faith is not stronger than my fear.
I feel frustrated. I like people and I’m missing them. Screen-time just doesn’t do it for me. I want to share a coffee with someone, look them in the eyes and laugh wholeheartedly with them. I miss being together in church. I love singing—hundreds of voices rising with my own, moving me into an attitude of worship. That’s gone now and every Sunday I feel a little ‘flat’ after the on-line service. Hearing others saying how meaningful it is for them, just makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.
I feel useless. There are people doing wonderful things out there—running feeding schemes, setting up homeless shelters, making masks for police-officers, teaching pupils online. I’m stuck at home, producing meals for three, trying to keep my plants alive and my underwear clean.
I feel bored. I’ve read posts by those saying they simply can’t understand how anyone can be bored at this time because they have so much to do. Then I feel not only bored, but irritated. The external things that gave my day structure—that made a Monday, a Monday and a Friday, a Friday—are gone. Every day looks the same and I struggle with the monotony of this new reality.
That’s just a little of what I’m feeling and I’m (mostly) not ashamed to admit it because I think it’s important to acknowledge our true feelings. Suppressing them is not good for us and projecting a false sense of bravado is definitely not good for others.
Should Christians have ‘negative’ feelings?
I’ll be honest (because I’m on a roll, right?) even posting this blog makes me feel a little anxious. As a Christian I’m meant to be sending out an uplifting message of hope and inspiration. But here’s the thing: I believe that is what I’m doing. Telling you to look into your heart, uncover your true feelings and then share them honestly—with others, but more importantly with God—is I believe, something Jesus would have encouraged for two reasons:
Honesty is the foundation of relationship
Firstly, he knows our hearts anyway, and honesty and vulnerability should be at the core of our relationship with him. We should be able to bring him not only our positive thoughts, but also our negative ones.
Jesus expressed deep emotions
Secondly, Jesus was someone who felt deeply and was not afraid to show his emotions. He can relate to our feelings and comfort us through them.
“The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed his tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell.” (Orthodoxy, G.K Chesterton)
Let’s follow Jesus’ example and be honest about how we feel. Let’s stop constantly pretending we’re okay if we’re not. Cry if you want to cry. Throw some things around (maybe something small, preferably not the furniture). Allow yourself to feel what you feel and not be afraid to share your emotions with others. And let’s allow others to feel what they feel too and support them as best we can. Keep it real, friends, as we head into two more weeks of lockdown and an uncertain future with covid-19.