"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV) A picture is worth a thousand words. At least that’s how the old saying goes. I find this to be true. Just take a moment and scroll through your photo library on your phone. Or look at all your photos on Facebook. And look at a picture of a relative who has passed on from this life. I’ve found that looking at these pictures often brings up memories, good and bad. It’s as if each picture has a story to tell- some shorter than a thousand words and many that could fill a thousand-page book. Pictures are memories, stories, parts of our lives that are frozen glimpses of our individual life stories. Pictures really are worth a thousand words.
There is a meme circulating social media of late that I have really appreciated. It simply says, “This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.” It certainly holds true for me. As a reminder, this season of Lent is the 40-day preparation period for Christians before the celebration of Easter. It is a time that has long been characterized by increased prayer, acts of mercy, and by giving up or fasting from items that we enjoy or love.
Staying home during the COVID-19 crisis is supposed to be a safety measure that protects our community, ourselves, and our children from further spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, for many children, home is anything but a haven. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, set aside to raise awareness about child abuse and to promote the physical and emotional well‐being of children and families in safe, stable, and nurturing environments. That responsibility has become even more acute during this pandemic when so many families are home alone together, isolated and often invisible to their neighbors. “This is a particularly dangerous time because many of the ‘respite’ options, such as school and work, are not available to parents and children,” says Pamela Cornwell, Saint Francis Ministries’ clinical director. “This can create tension and pressure in the home. So, it’s important during this time for us all to remain vigilant and to reach out to anyone we might have concerns about.”
So, you’re three weeks into working from home, and you feel exhausted. Yeah, you’re still wearing your sweatpants and t-shirt, but the lifestyle has lost its lustre – especially if haven’t washed those sweatpants for a few days. You’re still chugging along, getting your work done, but some days you just feel like you’re losing steam. Isn’t working from home supposed to make you feel happier, freer, more relaxed? Well, for the most part, yes. But there’s a lot going on right now. Most of us are inundated with a flood of information, warnings, and distractions. We’re getting it from the news, social media, and even our workplace as organizations struggle to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Here are a few ideas to navigate the noise and come out of this with most of your mental health intact.
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:26-29
Support. Provide respite as you’re able. As overwhelmed as the rest of us are, foster families must also ensure the health and security of foster children in their care. Drop off a home-cooked meal, shop for groceries, volunteer to play with the kids in the back yard or to take them for a walk around the neighborhood. Give them a break. Give. Kinship and foster homes care for multiple children at a time, and all those children are out of school and spending lots of time together inside the house. Consider donating gift cards, art and craft supplies, board games, bottled water, and snacks. You could also put together a “care package” with basic needs. Or make a financial gift to community providers like Saint Francis Ministries or through CarePortal, who need your support to meet the needs of foster families and children.
As an associate of the United Nations Department of Global Communications, Saint Francis Ministries is committed to sharing knowledge and information developed by the network of experts at the UN and associates from all over the world. If you have a teenager or are supporting someone who does, please read and share this article from UNICEF, to protect and help teens care for their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.