2020 has been a year of feeling powerless
2020 has made you feel something. Powerless is not the word you would have claimed until now. Now that you’ve seen the word your soul is saying, “I’m so tired of feeling powerless.”
The pandemic has been no respecter of people. It is contagious to all of us. We all have had to adjust our lives, many of us have had severe adjustments. We’ve all suffered from the pain of those adjustments. No one has been exempt while some have suffered more than others.
Respect to all of the parents who feel powerless helping with their children’s education. We’ve never been here before.
Then George Floyd happened. More suffering. Finally us white folk understood the problem while we feel powerless to help the problem. Meanwhile our black friends have felt powerless for a long time.
One of the few TV shows John and I watch is “This is Us.” Maybe because we can relate to the story a bit. Maybe because John looks like and is Jack to our boys.
The season opener for the 2020 season was a 2-hour episode. This episode kept me awake long into the night after we watched it.
The episode opens up with “the triplets” all adjusting their lives to the pandemic. It is the hum-drum hard stuff of adjustment as life continues on.
Then the George Floyd event happens. The powerlessness is felt with the two white siblings as they participate in protests and donations but this event shakes Randall to his core. He feels powerless.
The core of the episode focuses on the triplets 40th birthday and they—as usual–are all struggling with their life problems. This is every episode. Now they are also struggling with the failing mental health of their mother. They feel powerless.
They do gather for their birthday—sort of—and then there is this conversation. Randall and Kate are talking. Kate is trying to connect with her disconnected brother. Kate brings up George Floyd and what she is trying to do to help. Randall breaks explaining how he has felt that way his entire life growing up as a black man but he has never been able to talk about it with anyone in his family whom he loves. Randall feels powerless.
Kate starts crying because she feels powerless. Randall tells her he wants to comfort her in her uncomfortableness but he won’t this time. Because he’s tired of being so isolated in his fears.
This is what disturbed my sleep that night. The racial unrest of 2020 has made us all feel so powerless but our black brothers and sisters have felt this way for such a long time as they have had to comfort us white brothers and sisters in our uncomfortableness. This breaks my heart. I am grieving for this sin.
We began the year, before the pandemic, with Australia burning. We are ending the year with the West Coast losing record acreage in fires. We’ve had so many hurricanes this year that we’ve moved onto the Greek alphabet. Weather is no respecter of people either. We are powerless as climate change is something larger than our green decisions. (I felt powerless as I saw all the plastic waste pile up from all of the takeout food and sanitation safety.)
Then there are the regular life hardships too many of you are enduring right now. The crumbling marriage, the sick parent, your cancer diagnosis, your child’s addiction, your mother’s dementia. This one life crisis has caused you to feel powerless as you have to endure all of the others.
There was 25 days in September—over my son’s 40th birthday—that I didn’t hear from him. He’s serving a long prison sentence. Visits had ended back in February. He has had COVID-19 and recovered with poor medical care. COVID is running rampant at his prison. Suddenly all communication stopped. I was powerless to find him.
Turns out the warden and some other staff had trumped up some charges against him and had him in segregation. The health inspector found him and got him out. All of the charges were dropped. Thankfully he now has made me his emergency contact (over his birth mother) so now I do have some power. But I still feel powerless to help him.
In this powerlessness people think that posting angry stuff on social media is giving them power back. That maybe this one post will change the world so it will go back to normal again. It doesn’t just have to be angry stuff posted on social media. Sometimes we believe that if we post a prayer request or even our true self, social media will return to us some power. But it never does.
The harsh judgment on mask wearing is a way to try to gain power again. Or living for the false hope of a vaccine. The thinking became, “If everyone would just wear a mask…” or “When everyone gets vaccinated…” life can be normal again. Do you see the false hope in that? Yet you have lived by that trying to regain some power over your life. (Still wear a mask!)
Is there any way for you to gain your power again—at least a little? Is there anyway for you to feel like you have some control over something?
Yes. Especially if you believe in God. Even moreso if you believe in a big God.
There are literally millions of people praying for all of this right now. Millions. You can join those millions with your prayers. It’s not just you and God talking out your frustrations. There are millions joining you. #thebravepray
Stop your striving and striving and striving and admit to yourself you are powerless over some aspects of your life. You can’t control every outcome. Do strive to protect you and your loved ones from a contagious virus but stop the striving and striving believing you can 100% stand against a virus. Breathe more and trust God more. Which is just what I had to do when I could not communicate with my son those 25 days.
Embrace the discomfort of our society’s coming change to heal our systemic racism. You have no power over this, just all of those feelings of discomfort. For once let us let our black and brown brothers and sisters lead this change without having to contort to our white power. We are going to be a part of a better world.
Keep on making your green decisions while also realizing you have no power over climate change. The earth is strong. The earth heals quicker than we realize. In the first month of the national shutdown we saw the healing affects already. Our green decisions do make a difference so we can continue to let the earth heal.
What is something new you can learn so you feel the power in something? Even if you are so sick from your chemo treatment. Find something new to learn—and ask someone to learn it with you. This way you can both laugh together through the bumbling learning process.
There is a reason why banana bread was the rage at the beginning of the pandemic. There is a reason why yeast bread was the rage over the summer. There is a reason why canning was the rage in the fall. People were learning to do something and it was giving them some power back.
Look for the seeds of change. Eyes open on the little things that are happening. Those seeds will bring you hope.
Light a candle. Take a candle out of that closet you have so many stored waiting for that special occasion and say, “this is that special occasion.” Today is a special occasion. Light the candle, smell the candle. Find a grateful moment. You are reframing the moment, your day, and honoring something good about your day. You are finding some power over your life.
I didn’t even bring up how this candle can bring you into a holy moment. How this moment can slow you down a bit so you can pray or so you can feel feeling powerless and invite God into that?
That episode of “This is Us” ends with this scene. Truth. Realization. Hope. From truth, realization and hope we learn we can fight on.
The world is a beautiful resilient place. We fight on. With millions of prayers.
Read the book
A small book about being the people that hurting people need.
“This is the book that I wish I had had for people in my life that have suffered and needed me to be that compassionate friend. This is the book that I wish others in my life had read before they dismissed my pain, or compared it to theirs, or stumbled horribly through trying to lessen my pain because it was actually really about THEM not feeling comfortable with it.”
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