Compassion is not a pizza.
That’s the phrase that has been going through my head this past week.
You see, last week life was normal for us. I had a conversation with my parents in a Chick-fil-A on Monday (March 9th) talking about the Coronavirus and how in my little town in Ohio it wasn’t affecting us. My exact words were “we’ve been doing business as usual”.
Then on Thursday (March 12) everything came to a screeching halt. As in- slam the breaks, no seatbelt, we are all ejected into an alternate universe. I was actually looking at my phone scrolling through hairstyles for my daughter to choose for the father daughter dance the next night. She was so excited. Then I got the text that it was canceled. I couldn’t believe it. It was 24 hours away, what had changed? Then I got the next update that school would be closed for 4 weeks.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I even started to get angry. I wasn’t upset about my children being home, I was upset that the government was enforcing their idea of health onto my family. I believe that getting dirty and not overdoing antibiotics will build a strong immune system more than disinfecting everything. I am the one who told my husband not to stop the car when the baby was being born on the way to the hospital because ‘Once you get the paramedics involved they’ll treat it like an emergency and I don’t see birth as an illness’. I want to be in control of my health, not the government. Please don’t freak out on me without reading the rest of the article, we’ll get back to that.
Friday (March 13) was the last day of school for the kids. One thing after another was being canceled. First church, then restaurants, gymnastics, the roller rink where my daughter’s birthday party was scheduled to happen, dentist appointments and pretty much everything else. It really was like a real life apocalyptic sci-fi movie. I went to the grocery store to find rows and rows of empty shelves. I bought things I never would have like cans of peaches, and high priced paper towels because that was all that was left.
I had to pinch myself to see if this was really happening. I have daily to-do lists on an app and every morning I go through and delete the previous week’s list to add new ones. Here are some of the things that I did last week.
Go to the library
Meeting at church
Sedona’s Gymnastics class
Pick Zion up from Lego League
Make invitations for Sedona’s Birthday
So every day (up until now) I looked at a snapshot of the week before, when those things were all very normal. Every day I was reminded that last week I was living my life not knowing my whole world was about to be turned upside down. I was devastated.
That was the initial shock. The reality is that although I still don’t understand all there is to know about the coronavirus I know a lot more now to realize why all the shutdowns are mandatory. I am completely compliant and supportive because it is apparently necessary with this freakishly contagious virus that we have no treatment for. We are obaying the president and our governor.
I also realized how blessed we are to be able to make this transition fairly seamlessly. I am a stay at home mom. My husband works from home already. I have lots of supportive homeschool friends and family who have shared their wisdom. I also have a 12 year old who has helped me navigate not only his academics but those of his younger siblings as well.
We have high speed internet and technology to facilitate their virtual classroom needs. We have plenty of food and toilet paper (not because I bought extra). We live in a decent size house with a big backyard and I can only imagine what it would be like to be in an apartment in the city right now.
As you can see I have so much to be thankful for, which is why I feel guilty for ever feeling tired of it all already. I feel embarrassed that I ever dug my heels into the ground about this quarantine in the first place. But here is where “compassion is not a pizza” comes in. I read Brené Brown’s book “Rising Strong” years ago and this part has always stuck with me:
“Empathy is not finite, and compassion is not a pizza with eight slices. When you practice empathy and compassion with someone, there is not less of these qualities to go around. There’s more. Love is the last thing we need to ration in this world. The refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce. Yes, perspective is critical. But I’m a firm believer that complaining is okay as long as we piss and moan with a little perspective. Hurt is hurt, and every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us.”
Bam! In this case, I am choosing to honor my own struggle. I have tried to reach out to those around me who are in need right now whether with prayer or Lysol! I am not wanting to make this all about myself and why I’ve got it so bad, because I know I don’t!
However, it’s okay to be sad about the father daughter dance and skate party being canceled. The same applies to you. It’s understandable if you miss going to the gym or your hairdressser. You are allowed to get frustrated at your loud kids and wish that you could escape somehow. It doesn’t mean that you are a terrible person that doesn’t care about Italy or the elderly. We just have to make sure we keep it all in perspective. That’s the key. I know I have it good. I also know that God cares when one sparrow falls, he cares that my seven year old misses his classmates.
Compassion is not a pizza.