Last count, 40 days in lockdown. Social distancing and sheltering in place – our new vocabulary.
No matter how grounded you may be as a believer, the times we find ourselves in are extremely difficult. Emotionally, psychologically, financially, physically – you can add your expletive in advance of each word. We need to name it. For many, it’s anxiety, fear of the unknown, sickness, grief if you’ve lost someone close to you, and a new normal. Except nothing is really normal.
Understand that God also knows where you are in this spectrum of emotions. Rather than quote Bible verses, we need to lament, we need to cry out to God, and we need to be there for each other.
I lost my mojo, have you? Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I’m very aware of all that I have to be thankful for. I heard someone say if you get bored, try and name 99 things you’re grateful for. Jot them down.
There are other days when I hate my life. If you’re like me, I can’t focus – at least not for long. How about social media, email, and broadcast pundits who share their endless nonsensical opinions on everything. Droning on like they have the corner on all things COVID. I have to shut it off. Then there are the thousands of seemingly well-meaning “theologians” who have every solution for what ails us. Reminding us of our need to get back to God. Repent from our sinful ways.
There’s way too much noise to sort through.
I’ve been a photography enthusiast for decades. It’s now part of each day – to take pictures of anything and everything that moves. Even things that don’t. Wildlife, landscapes, farm animals, and farmers. Dogs, flowers, and vultures. I love it. It’s my escape. But I’ve also decided to share it with whoever is paying attention. Online and on social media. I even bring context and education to the subject of the capture. People seem to enjoy it. Is that my purpose at this moment?
On the other hand, the things that were part of everyday life in ministry aren’t there anymore, at least not for now. No teaching, no prison visits, no writing (except rare occasions like this), no road trips to visit friends and family, and no church, at least not in fellowship with other believers.
The writing thing is really weird. I can’t focus long enough to get my thoughts together. Colleen is working remotely – on conference calls and Zoom meetings all day, and sometimes in the evening. It’s endless. It’s necessary. But it’s extremely distracting.
How is it for you?
What’s the answer to getting through this difficult time without regrets?
I read a piece by Curt Thompson – a Christian psychiatrist. I’ll share an excerpt here.
A Body of Work
“By now, most of us have noticed. And either we or someone we know is talking about it. Zoom fatigue. Irritability. No fever, cough or body aches necessary. Just the normal, run-of-the-mill symptoms of social distancing. And mostly, people are describing how much more exhausted they are at the end of their days compared to what their lives were like before three weeks ago. All of this highlights one element of what it truly means to be human that our encounter with the coronavirus has drawn our attention to: our bodies.
For many reading this, your days have become a continual stream of Zoom or FaceTime or Skype meetings at work or with family and friends. What used to be a convenient and at times even delightful technological means of connection has become something else entirely. For some of us, Zoom is a new four-letter word. We all know something isn’t quite right.
In the language of interpersonal neurobiology, the mind is understood as an embodied and relational process. As Christians what this is hinting at is the fundamental reality of the Genesis account of creation: that God “formed the man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7). We are dirt, and we are breath; we are embodied and we are spirited. Take either one away and we stop being fully human. And what we are experiencing is the act of living disembodied lives.
God made our bodies as part of what it means for us to be human, and much like asking someone to breathe air that is only 15% oxygen instead of the normal 20%, we’re asking our bodies to do things they were not made to do. Even so, along with other suggestions I have offered regarding COVID-19, here are some additional things you can do to help:
- Make it a practice to take at least three 5-10 minute walks every day. Shorter, more frequent movement not only extends your body’s movement over the course of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to throughout the day, thereby reducing your anxiety along with your irritation.
- If possible, change your location of work in your home. This may be challenging, but different physical locations within your home over time gives your body the awareness of movement by virtue of being in a novel location.
- When possible, stand while doing work, especially when using a screen. This practice enables your body to work even while being less mobile.
- As you are able, limit the number of people on videocalls to three or less. This may sound unreasonable, or impossible. But the fewer people your brain—and body—has to keep track of, the less tired you will be. This may simply sound like common sense. That’s because it is.
- Greet as many people as you can whenever you are able. There is little cost to acknowledging the presence of another person, and we need to be acknowledged even by strangers. Not only will your thinking mind give and receive it, your body will as well.
- Plan for daily singing/worship while standing. Sing along with your most loved YouTube worship video as a means to use your body to tell your mind and soul that you are quite alive—and that you are not alone.
- Talk about your anger. There may be nothing more important than having a close friend or counselor validate that your anger is real and isn’t crazy. Not to mention that talking to someone about your feelings connects you to another person, which in and of itself will reduce your irritability and give you a greater sense of agency.
- Practice contemplative prayer. This form of prayer, especially while standing, strengthens your capacity to live in the present moment which protects against the irritability that emerges in the face of immobility.
Our bodies are hard at work. And although we are in a season in which we are asking them to work differently and harder than usual, know that you are not alone, and your work is not in vain.”
I hope this is helpful to you. It was for me. I don’t want to add to the noise. I simply want to acknowledge the struggle and offer up an option. To take your relationship with the Lord seriously enough to spend time with Him. To break up the routine. Even when it’s hard to focus.
Bless you, in this season. May God’s peace reign in your body as you navigate this historic challenge.