When Things Don’t Go As Planned

I’ll bet you have big plans for 2020. I do! With one kid graduating from college and another from high school, we plan to celebrate BIG time.

Now that we’re amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, my high school senior might not get to experience prom or walk across the stage at commencement. The thing she’s even more anxious about is missing her last season of high school soccer!

How our plans have changed…

I know things often don’t go as planned in life. Most of the time I can roll with that change. I actually like change, but I have to confess that I’m struggling a bit with this one. Rather than throw my hands up in the air and give in, I’m focusing now on building resilience. Here’s how you can, too.

Guard Your Mental Health

We all know it’s important to protect ourselves to prevent exposure to COVID-19. At least, here in Iowa, we have the advantage of not being so densely populated—but I feel it’s even more important to guard our mental health, wherever we’re living. With the virus being officially declared a pandemic while my family was enjoying spring break in Mexico, we were behind with the social distancing and quarantine.

Now, we’re only on day 14 of quarantine, and yet I feel out of sorts and a bit down already! In Mexico, there was lots of warmth, sunshine, pool and beach time. Now that we’re back, the lack of freedom to go wherever I want is depressing me. For my sanity, I needed to make some adjustments.

Fill Up On Good Things

I’m reminded to fill my mind with good things in this verse from Philippians 4:8 (NIV) “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,  whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-  think about such things.”

How do I do that in light of COVID-19?

  • Be selective with news, social media, and content like Netflix – Binge watching series on Netflix and Amazon is fun, but I need to stay away from dark shows and fill up on funny and feel-good shows right now!
  • Pray, meditate and journal – I’ve found this to be super helpful. Being still for 20 minutes each a day clears my mind. Putting down any anxious thoughts on paper and even writing out prayers helps me see how God continues to show up in my life and community.
  • Reach out to friends & family – I’ve been meeting friends virtually using FaceTime. If someone is an android user, you can also reach out using Skype, Google Duo, or Facebook Messenger. If you’ve never tried Snapchat, you might check it out. It’s silly, but the fun filters make it an easy and lighthearted way to send short messages and pictures to friends & family. (Like my specially-recorded example for you, above.)
  • Get outside, be physically active and snuggle with my puppy – no explanation needed!


Practice Grace

As well as doing all of the above, I’ve been making lots of comfort food and drinking a good bit of wine. I don’t pretend to be perfect, and frequently remind myself that I don’t get extra points for good behavior (I tend to stuck in perfectionist mode). Instead of thinking critical thoughts about myself and my family, I’m intentionally letting us all feel sad and drown our sorrows in less-than-healthy behaviors. Giving ourselves time to do whatever we want, as well as eat or drink whatever we want restores some freedom. I’m good at letting things slide some days, and other days I get a bit testy, but that’s life!

I imagine we’re all in the same situation, though few of us are used to having so much together time with our families. In my case, I start focusing on everyone’s little, irritating quirks. That’s when I have to go on a walk by myself or at least bite my tongue and go to another part of the house. That said, I’m so thankful to be married instead of single and all alone during this time. It’s all about perspective, right?

Find What Works For You

I hope you’re encouraged to see my struggles as a real person with a real family. I’m sure the list of activities that lift your spirits and help you stay connected will look different from mine. Keep searching until you find a few things that bring you joy and help you build resilience. We can do more than just survive during this chaotic time. We can thrive!  

What helps you thrive? I’d love to hear from you!