Contentment in the Pandemic
Be where you are.
Living in this present moment is crucial. Noticing each detail of my surroundings is owning where I am and who I am. When we don’t do this, we miss out on our life. During this pandemic, this doesn’t mean pretending to be happy, but simply “showing up” for life. We pay attention to people around us, to tasks that need to be done, to sensible self-care. Today—this moment—is the moment the Lord has made.
Existing elsewhere in our head takes us away from the real world in front of us. When lockdown first began, my mind lived in the past. I kept driving past my gym and my favorite store (and I hate shopping!). At times I lived in a parallel “here”—thinking about being with people I loved that I was scheduled to visit but it was now cancelled. Others exist in and for the future–when will this be over? To do these things denies reality.
So I constantly bring myself back to this moment. I say aloud the date and time: “April 20, 4 PM” (at this moment). “And in this moment, I have everything I need.” Really—food, shelter, oxygen. I can enjoy the world outside. I can sleep longer! It is true, as Dallas Willard often said, “It is good to be me.” Try saying that right now. This is living in reality.
Love who you’re with.
One of the things I love best about Jesus is how he invested in people. He noticed them and paid close attention to them (e.g., Mark 5:24-34). Normally, I try to intentionally do the same, looking for opportunities to encourage people. But I found myself last Friday thinking about all my online meetings as if they were tasks to complete, to get done, even to just get through! Then God seemed to remind me that these were real people in whom I might invest. I finally began praying for each one, that I would be a non-anxious affirming presence to them. (My day become more interesting. Loving others is a cure for boredom—taking my mind off me, myself and I!).)
Give thanks while you’re there.
Gratitude brings us back to reality in technicolor. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! The sky isn’t falling. I have power and water (unlike earthquakes and fires). People I barely know are reaching out to me. I still get see the faces of my family, friends and students—mostly online, but I can see them. I can ride my bike. I can cook creatively with what’s in my pantry. I can even work, including writing this for you!
So I want to give back. My online course partner, Matt Rhodes, and I are going to once again offer a free 5 day online retreat: Trusting God in Crisis based on Dallas’s book, Life without Lack.
It went so well a few weeks ago that 2900 people participated and so many people typed in the chat that we couldn’t read them all. Best of all, people responded to the daily invitations of something practical to do—we even got pictures of it.
Beginning April 27, 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) and eagerly read/listen to your thoughts. You’ll walk away with a practical, even fun exercise to do throughout the day to experience God’s goodness. Of course, this is free. I can’t wait!
April 27th-May 1st Noon-Pacific; 1 pm-Mountain; 2 pm-Central; 3 pm-Eastern. Or watch the recording later in the day.
Sign up here: https://trustinggodretreat.com/signup