What a stunning couple of weeks we have all just had. I was just visiting with someone I hadn’t talked to since March 9. When this person asked about the last two weeks and I started rattling off events and changes, we were both speechless. As we sat in shock absorbing all of that, I realized it is true of all of us. No one has escaped the virus news, the implications, the disappointments and the fear of the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, many of us thought we were in control of our jobs, our food, our health, our healthcare, our activities, plans and dreams. We believed we had a right to plan our days as we wished, to move freely around our communities. We believed we could go to worship if we wanted to. We believed we would be able to eat out, see our people, hug, have coffee or a meal out.
We had concerts, sporting events and graduation events planned. We had plane tickets, hotel rooms and reservations for our dogs at the Pet Hotel. We thought we knew what the future would hold. We thought we’d be safe and sound and reasonably healthy. We believed if we needed medical care we could get it. We believed we could go get a haircut or a pedicure or order from Amazon if we needed something.
Turns out we were fooling ourselves. We controlled so little. The fact that all this changed in a matter of days illustrates how flimsy it all was in the first place. All the cushions, safeguards and entitled privileges were fake.
I, like you, have alternated between peace and panic, gratitude and horror. I have had to lean on my faith in God and my previously established coping-through-hard-times skills to negotiate through the tough moments.
What has helped me:
Staying in my day. Here and now is always better than what might be, could be or all the worst case scenarios I can dream up. I ask myself, what is happening right now? Stick to the present moment. It is all we have ever had.
Looking up. Rely on God. Rely on the enormity of God’s love, God’s presence and God’s Word.
Watching nature. Is the sun rising and setting? Is spring here? Are the birds singing and the flowers growing?
Looking outside of myself. Who can I help? Who can I connect to? Who needs a good word right now?
Adding new good habits instead of all-is-lost-bad habits. I added a mile to my walk, upped my commitment to a healthy diet and talked to a professional on FaceTime. Therapists are still available to us. When life upends us, it is as easy to add a good habit as a bad one.
Trusting. The number one task of the spiritual life is to move from control, self absorption and reliance on false and shaky things to letting go; surrender; release. It requires humbling yourself and everything you ever thought and relaxing in God’s hands. It is the hardest and most difficult task any of us will ever do.
The present situation gives us 1,000 opportunities a day to practice this most important spiritual truth. Spiritual growth requires practice. Everything has been suddenly stripped away. What we knew is no longer true. What we thought was safe, isn’t. It is go-time for people of faith. Practice letting go.
My favorite breath prayer is: This, O God, I give to You. It’s not time to panic, it is time to breathe, time to pray, time to let go.
Our God specializes in new life, resurrection and bringing something out of nothing. I’m holding on to this as I practice release. Turns out I never was in control after all.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three grown children, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. Sign up for a monthly Inner Circle email with extra content at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/circle. The April 1 Top Ten List is on Managing Anxiety in Trying Times. You can also join Dr. Ryan on the weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call on Tuesday mornings at 7-7:15 a.m. (CST). Call in and hear the scriptures and devotional reading from Jesus Calling, hear Dr. Ryan’s message for the week and pray with other Jesus Calling readers from around the nation. Call 425-585-6238 and enter access code 155-636-905#. Dr. Ryan will post the recorded phone call each week on Facebook as well. Please feel free to share it.