I typically do not eat breakfast. Most of the time it is because I am not hungry for the first few hours of the days. More often it is because I forgot while tending to the kids or dogs or other living beings in our house. Cameron wakes up starving and immediately cooks a large, calorie packed meal. Life is too constant for me to deal with something as trivial as eating.

Thankfully, many friends bring donuts to our house during the week. They check in on us and most questions to us revolve around Charlie and his health and his needs. He’s definitely the “neediest” so we aren’t bothered by this focused attention. I have a handful of friends that are gifted in asking questions and they venture to ask how we are doing. We? Well, I haven’t had much time to think about it. We, we are surviving.

What does this survival mode look like? Constant fatigue. Going to bed early and cursing the alarm clock in the mornings. Well, that’s pretty normal. The house is in a constant state of disarray and I make my housekeeping goals on the level of stocking toilet paper and taking out the trash. Again, that’s probably true for many of us. Our kids are not enrolled in any extra curricular activity at school or at church. I’m guessing many of you depart on this and have your child in a sport, dance, or church program. We attempt feebly to attend church and the rare Bible study. Surviving looks like running errands constantly when we have a reliable nurse and staying home in eye shot of Charlie when we have a fill-in. We use the online grocery shopping constantly now. Amazon delivers everything that Kroger cannot. When the hour or two of “quiet time” happens we debate if we will do something fun or sleep. The to-do list is never finished by the end of the day. Our overall emotions are often just mellow. There are moments we can say “I’m happy” but more often it feels a bit emotionless or swallowed up in suppressed thoughts.

I sat down and forced myself to think of what spiritual lesson God would have us learn by being in survival mode for so long. Contentment with less. Necessity of prayer. Transient nature of our lives. Reliance on God rather than ourselves. Joy outside of “happiness”. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” So this joy does not exist in ourselves alone. It is hand in hand with being with God. We can enjoy life without the constant emotion of happiness. It is our relationship to God that produces joy. It is a blessing to know this. Joy can exist without smiles and laughter. (It’s definitely better with those however.) I think that is the best description of how we are doing.

Despite the hardships of survival mode, I am thankful we are here. Day after day, we do not get relief to relax and go back to our old way of life. I thank God for forcing us into this corner and helping us shed the baggage of what we expected life to be like. I prayed years ago when reading Corrie Ten Boom’s book, “The Hiding Place”, that God would not allow us to have an easy life. The prayer slipped out and I tried backtrack over those words. My heart had seen what Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom had, authentic faith that was tested to the core. The testing isn’t without the grumbling and complaining at times but I would say it’s worth it. Even if I hate the fact that I just typed that out.

So maybe before all this, we were living (as the world would call it) but not surviving. Now it’s turned around. For the better.

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