Grace During the Pandemic


When my husband preaches on the concept of grace, it often brings tears to my eyes. My husband is an Episcopal priest. Preaching is his truest gift, and grace is one of his best topics. We both know and have lived grace first-hand because through it, we found each other.

But, I’m not here to talk with you about divorce. I’m here to talk about grace.

Grace is, in short, something given to you that you haven’t earned and don’t necessarily deserve. It is a sense of love, belonging, and peace that is given to you without any strings attached. No judgement, guilt, or shame.

I have survived this pandemic by grace alone – by the grace of God, by the grace of others, and by the grace I give to myself.

I needed grace before this pandemic started. I have two children under two years old. That, in and of itself, is tough. I had a dream job that began in January but abruptly ended at the end of February due to budget cuts. That career hiccup was also tough.

giving myself grace to NOT take the perfect picture

Then, things got really tough with the pandemic. Like all of you reading this, I had childcare that surprisingly vaporized when we went on the never-ending spring break. That lack of support – you guessed it – has been tough. During the pandemic, I have been parenting two small children, trying to piece together odd work-from-home hustles, and doing it all with zero childcare breaks outside of my husband. Oh, and I was just gearing up in early March to do the physical rehabilitation to rebuild my body after birthing two kids in two years, but then the gym closed with the pandemic. That (literal) pain in my rear end has also been tough.

I would not have survived this pandemic without grace.

My husband offers me grace everyday. He is the breadwinner with the full-time job, yet he also manages to be a completely engaged father, sharing the parenting duties equally with me (if not pulling more than his share of the weight!). When I feel like I’m failing as a mom and wife right now, he always lifts me up.

My employer and the owners of the Memphis Mom Collective offer me grace with every assignment and meeting. If I meet the deadline or if I make the meeting, great! But, if I just.can.not. with that assignment, they have given leeway to do work on my own time and my own terms. The first time I apologized for missing a deadline, my boss wrote back, “I appreciate your message, but please do not beat yourself up. […] I understand that we are all just trying to do our best.” BIG sigh of relief.

My friends and family have offered me grace in all aspects of my relationships. Unanswered texts, unanswered phone calls, rescheduled zoom get-togethers, you name it. I have not been the daughter, sister, or friend that I would like to be, but they have all given me space and understanding.

I have been doing my best to give myself grace. I am not the mom or the wife I want to be right now. I am not the employee or friend I want to be right now. I am not the ME that I want to be right now. I have not used the quarantine to pick up new hobbies or do much #quarantinebaking. I have not been very successful in my attempts to WFH (neither work nor workout from home). I have not lost ten pounds. I haven’t done a #coronacraft with my toddler everyday. That’s all okay. Everyone is loved, fed, bathed, and (somewhat) rested. That is good enough right now.

The bottom line is that I am not at my best right now. I will venture to guess that you do not feel like you are at your best right now, either. Just as the others around you have been giving you grace, please be sure to give grace to yourself.

Even though things are starting to slowly reopen, nothing is close to normal. You might be without childcare, you might have a spouse or partner isolating from the family in another bedroom, you might have anxiety about the safety of going to your own job, you might be grieving a canceled momentous special event, or any other number of abnormal challenges. Please focus on being the best mother you can be. Please focus on taking care of yourself. And, please give yourself grace to mess up, to scrape by, to hold it together. No one is thriving right now, and grace will get us through this.

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Sarah Townsend Leach is a fundraising, communications, and leadership professional living in Collierville and working with clients around the country. Sarah grew up in Nashville and has lived in quite a few places, but thanks to visiting grandparents in East Memphis throughout her childhood and attending Rhodes College in Midtown, this has always been a second (and now a primary!) home. Sarah and her husband John met through both of their work in the Episcopal Church in 2015, and she is a mom to Poppy (June 2018) and Ann Townsend (October 2019). Follow her journey through new motherhood: focusing on learning how to be a parent and finding her new work-life balance out in the burbs. Sarah loves exploring, being outside, yoga, and crafting (all of which she has no time for now that she is a toddler mom).