Self-absorption is easy to fall into:
- How does a government decision affect me? (instead of the common good)
- How does the rainy weather create traffic congestion for me? (instead of how the earth needs rain, especially here in SoCal)?
- How do I prefer or dislike the style of worship at my church (regardless of how it encourages or discourages others)?
- Finally, how does the Coronavirus inconvenience me? (instead of caring about my next-door neighbors and global neighbors)
I’m an ideal candidate for self-absorption because I work from home alone in my office. My kids are grown so I don’t have other kids and parents coming in and out of my house. To counteract self-focus, I began asking God each morning: How might I bless someone today? I took this cue from what I heard Dallas Willard say in a workshop in 1991 (and is now printed in his book Life without Lack):
As you engage with others, ask Jesus to bless them. You can consciously will the peace, joy and confidence that you are experiencing to pass from you, like “living waters,” to those with whom you are interacting. Sometimes it occurs by a “good speaking,” and sometimes in complete silence, spirit to spirit. Watch it happen. Trust that God can work in and through you in these ways.
So when our current self-isolation situation descended on us, I was puzzled. How could I bless someone besides those living in my house? I couldn’t chat with my neighbors or hike with a friend. I couldn’t goof around with the reception kids at the gym or the kids who work the drive-through where I get iced tea. I couldn’t gratefully tell the massage therapist that he has “healing hands” or thank my hair stylist for doing “hair therapy” with me.
So I’ve asked Jesus for creative ideas. Before total lockdown, I donated blood. After that I hired a mobile car detailer, texting him later about how my now clean car interior made me feel so good. Doing spiritual direction online became the highlight of my day. I started texting my sister and gang of nieces more creatively. I wrote a thank you card to my neighbor who loans me tools. God supplies new and interesting ideas every day.
But I still longed to bless the many who have taken the online courses that Matt Rhodes and I offer: Meeting God in Scripture, How to Listen to God in Prayer, Taste and See Advent Retreat, Life without Lack. So we decided to do a 5 day online retreat: Trusting God in Crisis based on Dallas’s book, Life without Lack.
Each day Matt and I will offer a thought on how to trust God more deeply in the midst of self-isolation and uncertainty (including job loss and loneliness) as well as hear participants’ thoughts. Even better we’ll offer a simple exercise to do throughout the day to experience God’s goodness. Of course, this is free. I can’t wait! It starts next Monday!
Sign up here: https://trustinggodretreat.com
Grace and peace,