Thinking Through COVID-19 as a Husband and Father (Part 1)
It is no stretch of the imagination to say that the events that have transpired in the last four months worldwide have had a dramatic effect on life as we know it. In many ways, our world has been shut down. People are being quarantined in their homes for weeks, which may stretch into months. There is fear, panic, and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty as people stuck at home contemplate each day this invisible enemy known to us as COVID-19.
The stock market has been a roller coaster ride, businesses have shut down, employees have been laid off, events have been canceled, and social media and news stations have done much to remind us all too often of the frightening situation we are in.
All of us find our lives, at the very least, interrupted. Others find themselves living a life that has been turned upside down. Some find themselves drowning at sea waiting for rescue.
I wanted to consider the impacts and implications that COVID-19 has on a man, particularly a man who is married and with children. How this time of a national, and even worldwide, crisis has affected the man who has to provide not merely for himself, but also for a wife and children.
The Change in Income
For some, the need to “flatten the curve” on this COVID-19 pandemic has forced their employers to close up shop temporarily or to radically modify normal business hours. As a result of these changes, many find themselves without any source of income. For most of us, while we continue to work, our income has been dramatically affected.
No one likes change. Everyone enjoys a level of comfort that we hate to see disrupted. The amount of stress that comes with a modified, or even total loss of income, cannot be overstated. I write as one who is still recovering from the bust of the oil industry in 2015. I was laid off in May of 2016, and our family is finally recovering and adjusting to a new norm in 2020. The stress of not being able to provide for your family cripples a man.
While ultimately a man must find his identity in Christ, there is still a level in which a man will find his identity in his career. Most men spend most of their days, and their lives, away from home working to provide for their families. Working to make their wife and children’s lives easier and more comfortable. It is no wonder why then that when you remove a man’s career, even if just temporarily, it will have major impacts on him. This man can quickly find depression knocking on his door. This man will find himself scouring the internet for hours, day after day, hoping for something, anything. And with each passing day, the depression becomes greater.
Because a man’s identity is often tied to his career, not only will a man often find himself depressed when his career is stripped away, but there will be a great sense of guilt associated. Even though the man knows it isn’t his fault, the weight of guilt can easily crush him. This man will feel responsible if the luxuries, and perhaps even some necessities, of life are slowly removed from his family.
The Change in Morale
We all know that life is more than a job or career, but when that career is stripped away, when the thing that we have so largely identified ourselves with is taken away, our joy can be quickly demolished. Perhaps outwardly, you and I can continue to put on a brave face, continue to verbally communicate that everything will be alright, but inwardly, it can quickly feel like you are drowning.
But it will not only be the man’s morale that is lost; it will also quickly affect the entire family’s morale. Your whole family’s life has been interrupted. They are no longer having playdates, traveling, shopping, or perhaps, if your wife was also working, she may be unable to work as well. It is easy to be discouraged when the things you have enjoyed have been taken from you. Especially when you are stuck at home. Day after day. Hour after hour.
These emotions are normal but should not become a normal part of your life. We must fight those feelings and continually preach to ourselves that we must find joy in Christ and not our circumstances. If we allow these feelings to linger around, it can greatly affect who we are and how we respond to our wife and children and even the world in general. We will quickly begin to see everything in a negative light.
As the leader of your home, I am not advocating for us to fake it until we make it. Far from that. But to continually question ourselves, examine our hearts, trying to determine what truly brings us joy. Is it our career? Is it a fancy new car? Is it a luxurious home? Or is it Christ? And as leaders of our home, not only must we be asking ourselves these questions, but we must continually help our family to ask those same questions.
Part two will be released next Sunday.