" If there is one thing this pandemic has confirmed, it’s that I am incapable of consistently accomplishing much of anything that is good, true, and beautiful on my own steam. "
It is day 3,678 of shelter-in-place quarantine, and I might be (at long last) losing my marbles. Granted, I didn’t have many marbles left to lose, but they were mine, okay?

Anyway, my kids are virtually Zooming around everywhere for school, but we are healthy, thanks be to God. I’m not working, but my spouse is, and it’s a tremendous blessing, to be sure, although I worry about his health and potential exposure to the virus every day.

Back on the home front, I’m relegated to the role of Chief Ringleader, attempting to ensure everyone jumps through the right hoops at the correct time so the house doesn’t burn down and nobody gets eaten by lions. Meanwhile, various influences say I should be working from home and refinancing the house and baking bread and cleaning up the chaotic disaster (understatement) in the garage and decluttering the bookshelves and simplifying my life and cooking healthy meals with ingredients I have on hand. I should also work out, drink more water, maintain a healthy marriage, plant a garden, contribute to the betterment of the world, host regular virtual cocktail parties with family and friends, read all my books, breed chickens, stay 6 feet away, share poignant words and pretty pictures on social media, write my next book, and, by the way, BE HOLIER.

It feels like an awful lot.

Recently, my friend Jen said that those folks who are somehow managing to “live their best lives”™? during quarantine need to do the rest of us a favor and lie about how awesome things are. If you have piles of extra money, flawless skin, an immaculate house, children who sit still for livestreamed Mass, a flourishing social and prayer life, and skinny jeans that still fit, God bless you. Truly. Please know that I am genuinely happy for you. Honest. But – real talk – I neither need nor want to know about it. Times are tough enough with social distancing, forced isolation, financial insecurity, and pandemic-level anxiety on top of the “normal” stressors of everyday family life. I certainly don’t need to add some unspoken expectation of keeping-up-with-the-saintly-Jones-family to the mix. Perhaps not sharing all the spectacular accomplishments of your life is your personal sacrifice for – your loving contribution to the existential well-being of – your fellow, less-amazing human beings. Remember: nobody likes a braggart.

And also, no one likes a grumbly Gus. And maybe that’s who I’m being right now – a party-pooper who’s eating sour grapes. That’s not a pretty picture any way you slice it. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel any better to complain. But with the walls seemingly closing in, I believe that I’m not hoping for others’ misery so much as I’d genuinely love a bit of company. A reminder that I’m not the only one who is overwhelmed with everything. That there are others who, like me, are getting by on a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. Because all of this? It sure feels like an awful lot.

If there is one thing this pandemic has confirmed, it’s that I am incapable of consistently accomplishing much of anything that is good, true, and beautiful on my own steam. Simply put, I’m fearfully, wonderfully, tragically, typically, human.

In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus tells us that, apart from him, we can do nothing. He doesn’t say that we can do most things, or some of the things, or even a few things — he says we can do nothing unless we are 100% clinging to, abiding in, and leaning on him. I know a previous version of myself who would have been all sorts of perturbed and offended to consider that I — intelligent, talented, capable, stubborn me — would fall woefully short in most every area of life without a massive amount of providential assistance.

However, 40+ years on this earth, 18+ years of marriage, five children, two dogs, and one pandemic later, I’m finally making peace with the fact that, without Jesus, I truly cannot do anything. No amount of self-confidence, ability, talent, caffeine, elbow grease, or willpower can ever take the place of Jesus Christ as the author and perfecter of my life. And that’s a very good thing. Because while I can do nothing without Christ, the paradox is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This is as good a time as any to remember that “all things through Christ” means those things to which God is calling me. He’s not calling me to be all things to all people. Rather, he is calling me to know, love, and serve him, and to love my neighbor as myself — so long as we stay at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Okay. It’s time for me to get back to the family circus, my friends. I’m praying that y’all stay healthy yet more importantly, that y’all keep the faith. We can’t do it all, but we can do the best we can with love on our side.

Your friend in Christ,