Like many of you, around this time every year our staff members (those who choose to participate) pick teams, organize strategies, and intently watch the NCAA basketball tournament. The victories and the upsets bring about shifts to those famous brackets as everyone adjusts their expectations, all the while hoping to win the title of Bethel staff March Madness champion (and the promised, though most often imaginary) grand prize. I have never actually participated in these friendly shenanigans, but I know so many were incredibly disappointed when this year’s March Madness was cancelled.
Little did we realize in that moment that much of life as we knew it was on the brink of postponement, suspension or cancellation. These last few weeks have been nothing short of life-altering and have felt much more like months than weeks! Agreed? And while the tournament may have been cancelled, the madness was not. The March Madness of 2020 has been like no other. And unfortunately, no one gets to opt out. Each and every one of us not only sits on the sidelines as this all unfolds before us, but we also find ourselves out there on the court, praying that we don’t get injured or foul out.
Though we are all dealing with our own set of specifics, we are all experiencing significant changes in how we do life, all from the confines of our own home. And that is overwhelming. It is way too much way too fast; our brains simply cannot keep up. And March madness of the mind ensues. Many of us are not sleeping well. We are wondering how long we will continue to have a job. Or we panic because we’ve already lost a job and can’t pay the bills. We think ahead to what this means for the future. We worry about vulnerable people we love. We are frustrated with e-learning. We are at our wit’s end with our children. Our minds are spinning with information, trying to figure out what this all means. We know the truth of God’s Word and the weight of His promises, but right now, in the madness of all this, we just aren’t feeling it. I have good news. IT’S OKAY.
God sees you right where you are and loves you even in the madness. He longs to hear from you. He wants you to pour your heart out to Him, no matter what that looks like. So go ahead: give yourself permission to have a meltdown. Cry your eyes out before God, take off the gloves, throw down some punches, stomp your feet if you need to. Release all your worries. Express your fears. Acknowledge the host of emotions you feel. Give yourself space to grieve the loss of life as we know it. God can handle it. Then let yourself fall into His mighty arms. Let the Good Shepherd pull you into His chest, hold you close, and comfort your weary soul. And then, like Jeremiah after his lamenting, remember this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion – therefore, I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24). Wash your face, give yourself grace, and then get back out there on the court. Know that there will be both victories and upsets along the way. But you are part of a team – and we are all in this together. The madness and the meltdowns of this March will pass. So press on, friends! Our Coach always has His eyes on us and will continue to direct us. And at the end of the day, Jesus Himself is our promised and very real grand prize – even in the middle of this March Madness.
*for additional encouragement, see Max Lucado’s Facebook video titled “Coronavirus Check-in: Grant Yourself a Meltdown.”