In facilitating small groups with sometimes noncommunicative teens, my wise colleague suggested beginning the session by asking each participant to share a high and a low. A high could include something going well, an accomplishment, an anticipated upcoming event, or anything positive, while a low could be something worrisome, circumstances that didn’t work out as planned, a disappointment, a traumatic event, etc.
This activity works every single time like magic to get teens to open up! Sometimes, just discussing highs and lows could take a whole session and the participants always verbalized feeling better, supported, and connected, even when no “counseling” had really occurred.
Recently, this concept of highs and lows has been on the forefront of my mind as I personally have struggled with processing all that has occurred surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on our world. We know that the multitude of losses during this pandemic cannot even be grasped yet.
High schoolers unable to make memories, like going to the prom, participating in their senior year athletics, having a graduation ceremony and so much more. Small businesses owners who have dedicated their lives towards building establishments that are the cornerstones of their communities having to close their doors, and so many people out of work. People having to delay medical procedures or undergo surgeries alone because loved ones are not permitted to go with them into the hospitals. Worst of all, loved ones that have died, either from the virus or from other causes, and people unable to travel, gather together or even hold a funeral or memorial.
In my case, my husband Arvie Bennett, Jr. and I, who have been a musical duo touring all over the country, are now unable to perform. We feel like we have lost our purpose. In addition, we lost our source of income which has resulted in our losing our home.
Last year, we had over 100 shows, but now many restaurants, festivals, and other music venues are still not able to open or support live music. For those businesses that have been able to survive the quarantine, it is uncertain when or if they will ever be able to host live music. Even worse, one of our dearest friends died from ovarian cancer this past April, and we still have not been able to have a funeral or even meet with her other friends and family to support one another. These are just a few of the losses that I have experienced, but suddenly, when I was taking a long walk the other morning, the highs of this timeframe flooded my mind.
During the quarantine, Arvie and I have been able to spend time together, and we even worked on some original music that we could never seem to find the time to do while we toured. Out of the blue, two churches asked us to lead worship online during the pandemic.
This gave us the opportunity to use our musical gifts and fulfil what we see as our purpose even though we are no longer performing. It was a much-needed financial blessing, as well. In addition, radio stations all over the country are playing Arvie’s song Where He Found Me, so his music is still being heard! I could list more highs, but my point is this: life will always have these highs and lows, ups and downs, joy and sorrow, times of happiness and periods of darkness. Sometimes, simply saying it all out loud, telling a friend, or writing it down in a journal could be all we need to feel better. Just like the teens in my small groups, the seemingly simple act of describing the highs and lows is all they need at the moment to feel encouraged and to realize that they are not alone.
Every other person is also celebrating a high and dealing with a low. At this time when there have been so many complicated losses, perhaps each of us could try this. When dealing with the loss of a loved one, career, or other major part of your life, it may be difficult to find a high, but I am confident that if you truly take inventory, you will find a positive or at least a lesson learned during what has been mostly a low period.
Like waves in the ocean, highs and lows will ebb and flow, crash and subside. Let us try to embrace that life IS highs and lows and everything in between, and perhaps that is what makes life priceless and beautiful.Tags: bereavement during COVID-19, teens