Raised in the panhandle of Texas, my husband is a master of short, to-the-point sayings. When someone has a bad attitude he often says he/she needs a “check up from the neck up.”
In these last months, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found myself needing just such a check up. I’ve written quite a bit on how to care for ourselves in this pandemic season. I’ve spoken about it, preached about it, journaled about it and prayed about it. That’s how I work through hard things.
Recently, I saw someone I care about looking a little stressed. I asked if he was okay and he replied, “Yes, except for this feeling of impending doom.” He wasn’t even kidding. In a very unpastoral response I started laughing and he looked a little hurt. All I could say was “Welcome to the club. Isn’t that exactly what these last months have been about? Trying to live with ongoing doom?”
All of us keep saying to one another, “Can you believe this is all happening?” “Who would of thought it would be like this?” “Could you ever have predicted…?” Of course the answer is “No, no, no, a thousand times no.”
I find it helpful that in my family and in my friendship circles we trade off being panicked. We share helpful articles. We send each other funny memes. We lament together or handle it like a relay race, passing the baton of grief, fear and worry to one another regularly.
There’s something slightly comforting in knowing we are all experiencing variations of the same experience. There is a shared knowing that sometimes soothes my soul. We laugh together because it is impossible to make plans, all our calendars tentative, empty-ish and filled with unwritten speculation like if this happens, maybe that can happen and so on.
So once again, this morning, I found myself in need of a “check up from the neck up.” I’d placed this week’s hope in the forecast. Last week there was talk of a cold front and lows in the 50s. For those of us burning up in Texas this seemed like manna from heaven. I planned my life around it and now that day has come and gone and my ac is still running full blast, my morning walk hot and humid. I feel like a victim of a bait and switch. Under gray clouds and humid skies I trudged through my morning walk, still having ankle pain that doesn’t help my attitude.
I rounded my normal corner at the end of the block and for about ten seconds the sky opened purple, orange and just vivid with light. I lost my breath for a second and actually said out loud, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” Just that fast it turned back to gray and oppressive. But, those few seconds of beauty reset my soul.
Does your soul need a reset? Do you need a check up from the neck up? Can you help it happen?
Light a fall candle. Look up. Go outside. Phone a friend. Send a note. Change chairs. Instead of the news, listen to music. Pray. Do one minute of yoga. Drink a glass of water. Give thanks for ten things. Open your Bible. Wonder over something.
Your heart knows what your soul needs. Listen to it.
I love the magic of calming a screaming baby by stepping outside for a reset. I have no idea why it works…maybe it is the different light, sounds, wind on his face or the quick change of temperature.
I wish my soul was a little more consistent in her moods. I wish she was taking this all better but she is up and down and all over the place. She gets angry, cranky, sad, scared and sometimes is just out of sorts, like a screaming baby. She often needs a reset.
Thank God for the reset.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and one on the way. To read more blogs, see upcoming events, sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly Top Ten List or to learn more about the weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call she co-hosts, go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com.