I had FOUR weeks of blogs planned. Three of them had already been written. I was finally ahead, ready to give time to some other projects. And then COVID19 happened. Odds are, you are feeling the same way.
On Wednesday, I withdrew my children from school uneasy with the "we'll close when someone gets affected" approach. (I get it and I know that keeping them home is a privilege others would love to have). However, I am also on the cusp of the high risk group having had major surgeries within the last 9-12 months. Thankfully, cancer could not and I am doing all I can to make sure Rona will not.
So. Here I am. I emailed my children's teachers to make arrangements to pick up their work and books. I was told that the teachers were meeting in grade levels today. Then I received a call on Friday evening saying schools were closed until April 14th. (Sunday night I am hearing April 20th, maybe until the end of the year). So I am winging it. This won't be the first time I've had to make bricks without straw. Wife, mother, preacher, author, public speaker, digital professor, clarity coach turned homeschooler. I have set up a schedule, downloaded lessons from the online curriculum they use, and pieced together the subjects for which there is no online curriculum. (I just received word that my daughter's teacher is posting work on Google classroom-come through, Jesus!)
I am also managing the fears of small children who were given a lot of facts at school and are afraid. Meanwhile, that fear is coming out in random tears that don't match what they say is bothering them. There's a lot of fear. A lot of uncertainty. A lot being thrown at people from a million different directions. There are a lot of people having to pivot on a dime and reorganize their days and their lives for an unknown amount of time. And then there are some more people doing ALL of this AND trying to speak peace and comfort, lead and provide wisdom all at the same time.
In this blog, I would just like to share what I have been telling others and telling myself. It can be summed up in three words: Keep It Simple. Now is not the time to be a wonder. It's not necessary. We just need to get through this intact. Ok? Whatever extra pressure you are putting on yourself is unnecessary. One thing at a time. One step at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time. I think that this is especially important for spiritual leaders. Now is the time to model for those whom we lead what it looks like to slow down and focus on the essentials. So, here is what "keep it simple" means for me.
S. Share your skills
There are a lot of children out of school or who will be out of school soon. Parents will be struggling to figure out activities, perhaps school work, or just a few moments to gather themselves. Others will be looking for something productive to do or ways to help out. Do you have a skill, hobby, or craft you'd be willing to share? Do a Facebook video/live-people do not have to join to watch it and it's free. Do an easy craft with everyday household supplies. Bake cookies and teach the recipe. Show kids how to paint or draw a picture. Read a story. Let people know. Then parents and caregivers can have kids (or adults) watch and participate in the activity. If you decide to offer something, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the activity, time and time zone, and any materials needed and I will help you get the word out.
Make phone calls. Remember those? For those comfortable with tech, use FaceTime (apple) or GoogleDuo (anyone) so you can see each other and not feel so alone. Do things together via video calls like share a meal or drink from the comfort of your own home. Don't have time for a call- Snapchat or Marco Polo to leave a video message. Be on the look out-I will reach out in the upcoming days to see if anyone would like to join me virtually for afternoon tea (or whatever, I won't be checking cups;).
M. Make a list
Make a list of what needs to be done. Feeling overwhelmed with all of the changes and things you now need to do? Tackle what is urgent and important first. Everything and everyone clammering for your attention does not need your immediate attention. Pace yourself. Take a minute to plan. It is better to gather yourself and then act. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending more time later untangling yourself from the mess you created by moving too fast now. Plus, if you write it down, you do not have to carry it around in your head. That just adds more stress. You can also cross it off when you complete it and see your progress.
Make a list of things you want to do. If you have found yourself at home with usual activities suspended, now's the time to do some things you have wanted to do.
I've started a little stack of books to read
I have a few rooms and closets to tackle
Since the days are not as rushed, I am going to teach my kids some basic home ec skills.
Tiffany is going to learn to cook some simple dishes and learn to use the dishwasher, washer, and dryer.
Luke will work on putting his laundry away and hanging up his clothes.
Both will be doing more cleaning up after themselves.
Since I can start our day a little later, I plan on exercising in the mornings. This will help lower my own stress levels.
Make a list of your fears, concerns, and worries. Instead of carrying all the angst inside, write it down. It is smaller outside of you than it is inside of you. In the light of day, some of our worries lose their power. Once written, offer them up to God in prayer. Release them and watch how God moves on your behalf.
This leads me to the next suggestion....
P. Put it on God
Now is the time to invite God into the details of your life. Writing down your fears, worries, and questions then offering them up to God is one way to do that.There is so much going on, so many stressors coming our way. There is a lot of uncertainty because we have not received consistent information and many are not receiving adequate resources. If our hope is in the government, we are in a sad state. Thankfully, our hope is in God-so give it to God. Do what is yours to do and ask God to handle the rest. Stop trying to figure it all out or pull it all together. I know we are faced with financial worries, health and healthcare concerns, childcare issues, and plans that have been ravaged. Put it on God and quit acting like you can handle it. Do not try to play God and be the reason people miss God in this season.
This is where our faith comes in. We don't have to be superheroes and it is ok to be afraid. Be afraid and get up each day knowing that it is not all on our shoulders. God has brought us this far. God has already been protecting us from dangers seen and unseen. As a matter of fact, we have already survived a whole lot of stuff we didn't even know about. With God's help, we can get through this, too.
L. Look for the good
Let this be your orientation. Be intentional about focusing on the positive. There is enough bad news to last a lifetime. Take a break from it. Watch something or talk to someone who makes you laugh. Listen to music or soundscapes that relax you. Begin and end each by giving thanks for at least 3 things. Write them down so you can remind yourself of them when times get hard(er).
E. Encourage yourself
Pay attention to what you are thinking about yourself and your situation. Pay attention to what you speak about yourself and your situation. Do not be your own worst enemy. Speak life. Speak victory. Speak what you want to see and experience, not what you fear. If God were to give you what you say, if God were to move in direct relation to your words-what would you be saying? Now speak accordingly.
Take whatever is helpful (I hope you found something helpful) and please share what you are doing in the comments. Let's help each other!