I recently started re-reading the book “Let Your Life Speak” by parker J. Palmer. I’m still only in the first chapter, but I’ve had to stop multiple and meditate on what I’m taking in.
What’s resonating with me within the context of getting used to living life in the middle of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be slowing it’s spread of a potentially deadly virus is a line from the opening chapter, “Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” It is from the poem ASK Me by William Stafford.
The past four months of isolation, social isolation, and more spare time that I ever cared to have has help me with doing a lot of soul searching. If and when this pandemic is over we’ll all be facing a future that is significantly different. A number of restaurants and eateries have closed, some of our favourite clothing and department stores have shut down for good, people are still working from home, and many people have ended up unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on businesses.
If your job, material goods, and your leisure activities defined you – who are you once those things are no longer available?
Isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and endless online meetings have revealed our weaknesses and our strengths. The rapid changes that have taken place are an opportunity to re-evaluate one’s life.
Some simple questions to ask one’s self:
-What have I missed the most?
-What have I missed the least?
-What are some new ways of doing things that I enjoy or like?
-What are some old ways of doing things that I hope we don’t return to?
-What are some new skills I’ve learned over the past few months?
-What has my outlook been like? Hopeful, anxious, confused, grief-filled, resistant, disbelieving, etc.
If you haven’t taken some quiet time for internal reflection during this COVID-19 pandemic, I encourage you to do so. It’s not a time to beat yourself up or make extreme unattainable goals; it’s simply a time to reflect on what you’ve been feeling, thinking, and doing during these times of instability and rapid changes.
Whatever your reflections reveal, remember to be kind and gentle with yourself.
I don’t know about where you live, but here in the mid sized city I call home, we have now been in a pandemic state of emergency since March 17, 2020. Slowly, and possibly too quickly, our Province and city are beginning to “reopen” businesses and services with the intention of, as they have said, “get the economy going again”. It’s important to remember that businesses are being given permission to reopen, not because it is necessarily safe to do so, but because we have an economy that our government is worried about.
Returning to work and aiming to resume “normalcy” is a hot topic that brings out the anger, frustration, and fear in people. Some fear for their lives, others fear for their bank accounts.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
Further into this chapter of Matthew Jesus tells us not worry about our lives: what we’ll eat, drink, or wear; but this is often easier said than done. I don’t want people to think that they are faithless if they have concerns about the essentials for life and living. People are worried about something during this pandemic. It might be their family, their health, their finances, their employment status, the house or rent, and the state of the world.
I don’t believe God is going to punish us or turn a blind eye towards our pandemic problems. He is our father, he understands our fears. What I do think God will be concerned about is how we handle these fears.
It’s important not to neglect our spiritual self during these troubling times. When we feel fear, don’t forget to take a moment to stop and ask yourself, “Why am I afraid”, “What am I afraid of” and “How am I handling this fear”.
Excessive worry and fear cloud our judgment, leading to poor decision making and additional stress. The key point to the Do Not Worry passage in Matthew is found in verse 27 “Can any one of your by worrying add a single hour to your life?” We know the answer is, no. This is why excessive worry is a waste.
If you’re wondering what we should be doing instead of worrying, here’s what Jesus tells us is a better choice, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
How do we seek first God’s kingdom during this COVID19 pandemic? Here are some ways.
Seek and speak truth: Don’t spread conspiracy theories, fake news and false information about COVID19 on your social media pages or in person. Be a person who speaks truth and knowledge.
Check on Yourself and Others: Do a self examen every day. Things change rapidly during a pandemic and it’s easy for us to become frustrated, angry, nervous, or confused. Check your feelings on a regular basis. Ask yourself, “how am I really doing?” Be honest with yourself. Check on your friends and family. See how they are doing? They might be coping better or worse than you, what matters is that you care about them. You don’t have to “fix” someone or cheer them up, all that is required is for you to be present when you do reach out to them.
Pray: Pray about what to do, how to live a life under lockdown, quarantine, sweaty masks, and social distancing. Ask God to guide your decisions and next steps. Don’t make any major decisions without praying first. Trust that God will guide you in the right direction even when if it means taking a difficult, unpredictable path.
Acknowledge the Experts: God most certainly wants us to trust him and activate our faith, but nothing makes a Christian looks more careless than dismissing experts who know what they’re talking about. Science is not the same as religion, scientists are supposed to develop new theories based on new and emerging evidence. As a nouveau corona virus scientists and the medical community are still learning about it; let them do their job, they know more and have more information than we do. God is not a fan of pridefulness. When the experts say there can be no church gatherings, there’s a reason, they are not on a mission to attack or destroy the church. Remember how Christians often say the church is more than a building? Well, now is the time to prove it.
Embrace technology: By embracing technology you can view Sunday sermons online, have virtual bible studies, and visit each other via apps like Zoom, Google, Facebook Chat, and Skype (to name a few). By embracing technology you can continue “meeting” together. It often feels more pleasant to meet in person, but for now, this is the next best thing.
Seek Help: God didn’t design humans to do things alone. If you need help with anything find a way. The need might be helping your kids with school work, learning how to use an online tool, or finding a place that provides help in the form of food, shelter, and finances. Whatever the need is there might be someone out there who can meet it. Be brave and put the word out that you need some help.
Work on personal development: Allow this pandemic to build your resiliency and character. Are you an impatient person? Try learning to be more patient while waiting in the long lines designed around social distancing and store capacity. Maybe you are not comfortable being alone. Now is a great time to learn to enjoy your own company. Do you have issues with being controlling? Well, this pandemic is a great way to learn that you can’t control everything; things have been changing constantly and it is mostly out of our control. Whatever plans you made a couple months ago are now uncertain.
Whatever your circumstances are during this global pandemic, please remain safe and remember we can survive this if we all work together.
With a rise in the number of people who have the corona virus (COVID-19) comes an increase in panic and desperate actions aimed at protecting one’s self from the illness.
I’m not sure about where you live, but in my small corner of the world people have taken to stockpiling large amounts of toilet paper in response to their fear of catching the virus. So far, no reputable health organizations have mentioned the need for toilet paper as a precautionary measure against catching this virus. Instead, they have been constantly reminding people to wash their hands as the best form of prevention.
The slightest cough or sniffle has sent people into a state of worry. Those wearing facial masks in public have been looked at with suspicion and fear.
What disappoints me most about the myths and rumours surrounding COVID-19 is the number of Christians I’ve seen who are taking part in sharing misinformation on social media. As Christians we should be known as people who are credible; people who take the time to check facts and are aware of their sources. It would be unrealistic to think that we will be 100% correct every time we share information, but in our eagerness to share with others it is important to take the time to stop and consider why we are sharing posts and Tweets?
It’s good to ask yourself if you are sharing something that is helpful or harmful? But most importantly, question if you are sharing something that is true.
I have seen Christians share posts misinforming others that things like garlic, holy oil and water, and all sorts of snake oil products will prevent catching COVID-19. During times of panic we as Christians are called to bring a sense of calm. Jesus was not a man who panicked. It was always the others around him that were filled with anxiety, worry, fear, and desperate actions. When Jesus encountered people in fear, he reminded them to call on God to bring a sense of inner peace. We are not called to do the opposite either – ignoring serious situations or going into a state of denial; instead, we are to pray for wisdom and knowledge when faced with unpleasant situations.
Pray to God and ask him to guide you to speak words and share information that is meant for the health and benefit of others.
“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6
The countdown is over, it’s the start of a new year 2020, and a new decade. For some people a new year means fresh goals, for others, a change in numbers on a calendar is nothing significant to them. One way isn’t better than the other, but I firmly believe that as Christians we are called to live life intentionally.
In its simplest definition, living intentionally means consciously and deliberately living a purpose-filled life according to your personal values and beliefs which influence and direct your daily habits. When you live intentionally you align your life with the will of God, the fruit of the spirit, and the ways of Christ.
To quote writer Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”
My hope is that you don’t view intentional living as a daily to-do list filled with tasks to be checked off by the end of each day. The benefit isn’t the accumulation of completed tasks; instead, it is about living your life with purpose. We live in a society where we pay attention to what others have achieved instead of focusing on our own journey and path.
The measuring stick is between you and God and no one else.
Each year I choose one word and one verse to help guide me through the year. The word and verse help to keep me focused and align the different parts of my life with the same spiritual goal.
This year my guiding word is PEACE. This word came to me as a result of the ups and downs I experienced during 2019. I realized through prayer and meditation that peace was something I craved deeply, but wasn’t fully aware it was a desire of mine. Instead I thought what I needed was rest. I had plenty of rest, but I still wasn’t at peace. 2020 is the year when peace will be my focus.
My guiding verse is:
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19
If you haven’t already chosen a guiding word and verse for the year, there’s no rush. The year has only just begun. Take time to prayerfully ask God to show you spiritual areas in your life that needs attention, nurturing, and transformation.
Below are some links to other blogs where they share their reason for choosing one guiding word and the process they use. One Word 365