Our 2020 Theme Book for our members is Emotional Agility by Susan David. Little did we know that it would be so appropriate for the challenges we are now facing with COVID-19. During this time, we have invited our team members to reflect on their own experiences and how the book has been a helpful resource by asking them these two questions: What are you being invited to let go of right now? What are you being invited to hold on to?

Like everyone, I have a story of how this crisis has affected me.

My pre-Covid-19 self was organized and prepared, worked remotely from a fairly quiet home, had 2 children living at home and 1 in college, and was in the midst of navigating difficult situations with a husband with chronic medical issues, and stepchildren who were struggling. Stressed, but still staying in control.

My current self is mourning the loss of organization and control. It is what I am being invited to let go of. I now live on lockdown with 3 children, 3 step-children and a husband home all day. I am juggling cooking for 8, shopping, cleaning, washing, mediating arguments, cyber-learning with 5 children, and doctor consults in a very scary environment. My job has gotten more complex as we navigate how this shutdown will affect employees and finances. My early morning quiet time that used to center me is gone, and my time is no longer mine. I have needed to let go of what used to be.

However, I have a confession. I may be partly responsible for this situation. Prior to this outbreak, I had been praying for ways to speak into the hearts and lives of my 3 stepchildren, who normally only live with us on weekends and holidays. We were watching each of them struggle with different issues, and I felt that if we just had more time with them, we could help them establish better patterns and behaviors, and see how much they are loved by us and by God.

This was not what I envisioned but it is what I am being invited to hold on to.

The concepts discussed in the book Emotional Agility have helped me unpack some of this. Although I am not a perfect student of the book, I am trying to allow each person in our household to show up and feel the anger, fear, sadness, frustration, and loneliness. Facing and accepting that this situation is hard. Living together is hard. But also stressing that we have the power to choose our response to our feelings and situation. What is most important at the heart of it all?  We can make this a horrible household lock-down, or we can accept the loss and find ways to show God in action to each other.

This is hard for me, and especially hard for a blended family in a house that suddenly feels claustrophobic. But being emotionally agile isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen on its own usually. It is learned by choice, observation, and by seeing it in practice. Which is really what I was praying for – a chance to have my children see faith in practice.  And that is what I am holding on to right now.

So I apologize if any of this crisis was somehow God hearing and answering my prayer. This manifestation wasn’t my intention. But I am still trying to see God working in the midst of this chaos, and am thanking Him for allowing us the chance to grow stronger, and grow together, through this.

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Chari Buongiovanni

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