As we spend more time home whether with loved ones, estranged family, or alone, how do we intend to use this time?
Today I received this text message meme that states:
“Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-Care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.
May we lean into the good stuff that remains.”
While we cannot control the outdoors, the outcomes, the reactions of others, we can control ourselves and our responses to the conditions. What will we choose? How will we opt to spend our time?
Those who have bemoaned not having enough time, in a society that taxes our every attentive molecule, sometimes to the extreme of hyper attentiveness in multiple directions – now have the chance to “slow down.” This could be the time to get to the projects you’ve been avoiding for years or to attend to the relationship or conversation you’ve been ducking. It could mean pausing and listening to the voice of God and mindfully meditating on His words.
This could mean more board games, learning a foreign language, taking an online class, reading that neglected book, picking up the dusty guitar in the corner, or even writing a blog.
Here are some suggested action steps to start today, should you desire some gentle reminders:
Call (5) loved ones and check in. Not text. Call.
Work out! It boosts the immune system.
Drink plenty of water. (Doesn’t this all sound familiar?)
Get plenty of rest.
Wash your hands.
Send out a few jokes.
Remember what you are grateful for, what has gone well, and good, and right. Our serotonin levels respond to gratefulness exercises. This also happens to be biblical. “Whatever is pure, honorable, right, let your mind think on these things" (Phil. 4:8).
The struggle in the battle of the mind cannot be emphasized enough. As we are built and designed for connection, this newly imposed isolation can have an impact on us mentally and emotionally.
As we are built and designed for connection, this newly imposed isolation can have an impact on us mentally and emotionally.
The tendency of the anxious mind is to veer toward “what if” and catastrophic scenarios. Plan and strategize solutions to potential scenarios, as much as you are actually able and as much as is useful, but don’t stay there in the “predicting phase” for too long. It won’t serve you. For instance, talk with neighbors or your rGroup, about a support effort to bring emergency meals or toilet paper, should you become housebound.
Look for opportunities to help! Who might be hurting the most, suffering the most? Scared? Isolated? If physical assistance is not possible, set up a prayer chain, ask what the concerns are, listen without dispensing advice, perhaps, send over some UberEats or Amazon Prime.
Be extra thoughtful to household members. Offer to cook dinner, take out the trash, clean extra - for the collective whole and good - we are in this together. Remember the extra burden this pandemic is adding to others. How can we be catalysts for relief and the loving hands and feet and mouthpiece, of Jesus? Today, my dad texted “credit each other with the best possible motives . . . GRACE.” It’s a great reminder.
As we are designed for connection, don't neglect the gathering together of the saints! Zoom is very popular right now for virtual group meetings and screen shares. Our rGroup is planning to use this platform or something like it, for our next meeting and so is our choir. Our Toastmasters meeting may even use this platform. In addition, iPhone Facetime can accommodate up to 32 people in a meeting. In trying times, we need the support, the laughter, the prayers.
And what about a virtual game night?
This website could also be an opportunity to share all the ways we have attended to one another, created “workarounds,” and found laughter, through some tears and fears.
If you do have moments of withdrawing and isolating and fear threatens to engulf you, remember to give yourself some grace and don’t stop attempting to reconnect with God and loved ones. Connecting with God can happen when you quiet your thoughts and limit the external stimuli, by taking steps like turning off Youtube and the cell phone. It can be through turning attention to online sermons, prayer time, uplifting music, talking about struggles with a trusted other, praying together, and absorbing His word, regularly.
Bear in mind, as we don't know the duration, this might be a process we are all repeating, quite a bit. Visualize a sine wave cresting high at times and dipping down at others, with another crest on its way and so forth. The power of our relationship with God allows us to surf the sine wave, rather than be "run" or defined by it.
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (1 Tim. 1:7).