April 29, 2020 Lenora Rousseau | Shade and Fresh Water
"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (Matthew 6:34, The Message)
As many of us are isolated from family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficulties of tending to our well-being are real. If you are struggling to find a sustainable rhythm or sense of balance, know that you are not alone.
Nothing is normal now. That includes buying groceries, finding toilet paper, working (or not working), educating our children, gathering in our faith communities online, and tending to our self-care. It is perfectly human and normal to sense the strain.
One of the best ways to navigate these turbulent times with compassion and grace for ourselves and others is to allow our expectations to become more fluid.
That does not mean there are no expectations. It simply means that we meet each day with an openness to adjust our response and decisions to match the circumstances of that moment. We choose to love. That, and kindness, will support the greatest good and cause the least amount of harm.
This enables us to observe and accept reality as it unfolds without placing unnecessary demands on ourselves or others on assumptions not currently accessible or reasonably attainable.
Doing what we can -- and allowing that to be enough -- requires that we adjust our expectations to accept that some circumstances are beyond our control.
One of the best ways we can develop more fluid expectations is through the practice of mindfulness. Taking just a few minutes a day to be mindful of your breath or any other focal point can dramatically increase your capacity to be awake and present to the other moments of your day.
Your capacity to perceive and respond positively to God expands. Here are just a few ideas for how you might consider cultivating mindfulness:
Use short, guided meditations. There are ample resources available online that can help you center your attention and alleviate stress.
Drink a cool glass of water. As you drink, see if you can focus your attention on the temperature of the water, the sensation of the water as it moves through your body, and the way the glass or cup looks and feels in your hand.
Walk outside for a moment. Notice what you smell, what you hear, feel, and see.
Reflectively read Scripture or another spiritual text that brings you comfort. Pick a short passage and read it slowly. Pause and reflect on what stands out - a phrase, a word. Re-read the passage, noticing this time how the experience of that phrase or word expands. Pause and reflect on where that experience leads your thoughts or emotions. Open yourself to discern what the invitation of that phrase or word might be for you. Reflect one last time, considering how you might authentically respond to that invitation.
Having people you can openly talk to right now about the challenges you face can be a tremendous help in discerning what responses might be most helpful and authentic.
Psychological studies have shown that naming our emotions out loud counters the natural 'flight, fright, or flight' response triggered by trauma and acute stress. If you would like to schedule time with a spiritual director to talk through the challenges you are experiencing confidentially, please do not hesitate to contact us at flumc.org/contactussfw.
We are here to journey with you!
Above all, keep your eyes on God, allowing love and kindness to lead you, and remember that you are not alone. We are in this together, and God is with us all.
God's divine fingerprints can be seen in how humanity is collectively seeking to save as many lives possible. They show in the countless numbers of medical staff who are risking their health to serve others.
They show in the ways that our FLUMC leaders support their faith communities with opportunities to encounter God's love and grace. May God's wisdom and light illuminate your way through this pandemic and help us all deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Rev. Lenora Rousseau is an Elder in Full Connection with the FLUMC, serving by extension as the Pastoral Director of Pointe of Grace,LLC/Brilliantly You Project, Inc. and as a Chaplain Clinician with Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. She is also an active member of Shade and Fresh Water.