Today I want to give you a bit of permission that I probably need to give myself. We are a week into this “social distancing” thing, some of you are at home with your kids, some of you are still working but then trying to teach your kids when you get home. Some of you are home like usual without kids but are very much used to running errands that you can no longer do. I’m at home today, with the big Mac computer. Lindsay was showing some symptoms yesterday so with an abundance of caution we are staying home just to make sure it doesn’t get worse (she no longer has a fever and her cough is better – so probably just allergies). But the pressure to be a pastor but also a mom is real. Just like you all who have pressure to be a online teacher and a mom, or working out of the house and a dad, or a concerned husband or wife or daughter or son. There’s a lot of pressure, am I doing too much or too little?
It’s so engrained in us to be productive. It’s what our economy thrives on, what our families thrive on, we’ve got to do things to be successful. But economy aside, we are in a time where we just need to survive. We are probably in this for a long time, so we don’t need to over function at the beginning and be exhausted by the end.
So here’s the advice I’ve found to be helpful:
Create a schedule, but don’t tie yourself to it. Get dressed like you normally would, even if you won’t see people. Set aside time to teach, time to work, time to pray. But if you get a phone call, put your schedule aside and do that instead. Don’t worry too much about screen time with kids, you need to get some time to yourself too.
Stay healthy. Go outside and walk, do yoga, meditate, pray, don’t just eat junk, drink water. Even though I just said screen time is ok, don’t be on the screen too much. Don’t absorb too much news. “It’ll rot your brain” as Lindsay says.
Remember that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is trying to figure this out as it goes on. Everyone is making decisions like “should I go to the store again, or stay home.” Everyone is trying to decide how much they should see older relatives or friends. Everyone is trying to deal with dogs barking in the background of conference call meetings or trying to figure out new technology. Lower the bar, don’t compare yourself to other people, other than that you are in solidarity with them.
One of the bizarre things about this social isolation is that by isolating ourselves we are working for the community. We are connected in this isolation. A pastor I like to listen to, Sarah Condon emphasized that “if there were ever a time that people should give up on all their personal betterment projects, both secular and religious, and just dive head long into the theology of grace, this is that moment.”
Dive into the theology of grace, whatever you’re doing is enough.
If you missed our service yesterday, here’s a video of it. Donna Jo and Glen sang “Surely the Presence of God is in the Place,” and surely it was. I read Matthew 6:19-7:12 and talked about how worried I am, but what I’m going to do about it. If you’d like to just hear the podcast you can find it here :
Here is a prayer by Nadia Bolz-Weber. It’s a bit desperate, but some days we need that:
God who made us all,
Our healers are exhausted, God. Give rest to those who care for the sick.
Our children are bored, God. Grant extra creativity to their caregivers.
Our friends are lonely, God. Help us to reach out.
Our pastors are doing the best they can, God. Help them to know it is enough.
Our workers are jobless, God. Grant us the collective will to take care of them.
Our fellow parents are losing their minds, God. Bring unexpected play and joy and dance parties to all in need.
Our grocery workers are absorbing everyones’s anxiety, God. Protect them from us.
Our elderly are even more isolated God. Comfort them.
We haven’t don’t this before and we are scared, God.
I don’t even know what else to pray for.