We're about six weeks into sheltering at home. How are you doing? How is your soul? You might answer that question differently today than you would have yesterday—or than you will tomorrow. At least that has been my experience. One day I'm just fine, thinking this isn't so bad and I'm doing really well, and another day I find myself on the struggle bus. Can you relate?
This unusual and uncertain time vascillates between a roller-coaster ride—with its ups and downs, twists and turns—and a merry-go-round that won't stop, circling around and around until I'm dizzy with the sameness of it all. (Remember the movie Groundhog Day?)
There have been many beautiful moments, and I thank God for those—as I know you do. Still, the reality is that we're all experiencing varying degrees of loss, disappointment, and change—which can be unsettling. You may have lost someone close to you, or close to someone you care about (and if you have, you have my very deepest condolences). Or perhaps you've lost a job, financial security, interaction with family or friends, a daily or weekly routine or rhythm (such as church services and/or group meetings), a sport or hobby you're unable to participate in, an event or celebration (such as a prom, graduation, planned wedding experience, trip, or gathering), or something else. Most likely, you've lost several of these. On top of that, there may have been significant changes—things to learn and juggle, from homeschooling kids to working remotely (or differently) to adjusting to new limitations and requirements. There are just so many emotions, and the temptation is to rush through them, downplay them, or ignore them altogether. Or we may find ourselves looking to others, comparing our feelings and responses with theirs and trying to mirror them instead of being true to ourselves. The struggle with comparison is real even in the midst of a pandemic.
Despite what some might suggest, there is no right or wrong way to get through a pandemic. We're all unique individuals with our own personalities, temperaments, and life circumstances. So, of course, we're going to respond differently. And that's okay. "We'll get through this together" doesn't mean "We'll get through this the same way."
Here's the good news: God sees each one of us, knows us intimately, and loves us completely. He knows how we are in any given moment and promises to be with us just as we are. God's loving invitation is the same for each of us: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). If that falls flat for you, imagine a compassionate parent speaking these words of comfort to an anxious or distressed child: "Shh, child. Don't worry. Don't be afraid. I'm right here. And everything's going to be okay." Now, that's a reassurance I need in this season of loss and uncertainty.
Psalm 46:10a is a favorite verse of mine, and it is ministering to my soul in these challenging days. As I've shared before,* I like to meditate on it in four phrasings, like this:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
When I do this, God always highlights one of the four statements, speaking to me right where I am, however I am. Often my soul needs the reassurance of the full statement: "Be still and know that I am God." It's comforting to know that God is with me and able to handle whatever the day—or the pandemic—might bring. Centering my mind and heart in God through spiritual practices such as various forms of prayer, Scripture meditation, and journaling helps me to let go of my need to control and simply rest in God's love. I encourage you to experiment during this season and "try on" some new practices to see what might be a good fit for you. (See the links below.)
At other times I appreciate the reminder of the second phrase: "Be still and know." That's simply an invitation to receive whatever I need to know in that moment. It's a reminder that if only I will be still and listen, I can hear God's voice. In a time when so many voices are competing for our attention—often sharing messages that fuel fear, anxiety, unrest, anger, or conflict—I need to hear God's voice above all others.
Sometimes I gravitate to the third phrase: "Be still." This gives me permission to rest. I'm finding that being intentional to care for my soul by doing things that give me peace and rest is even more critical during this time of increased emotional and mental fatigue. Sitting on my porch, sipping a cup of tea, and loving on my pets are some ways that help to still my body and soul. The spiritual practices I mentioned previously also help me to find rest through stillness and silence. And sometimes just doing nothing at all, or taking a nap, is the best spiritual practice of all—and a great way to hit "reset."
However you are spending your days during this season, try to balance your busyness with rest. In the midst of all the uncertainty, sabbath rest is more important than ever. One way to redeem the quarantine is to see it as an opportunity to let go of distractions, slow down, and simply notice—not only your inner movements (thoughts and feelings) but also the movements of the beautiful world around you. The act of noticing leads to awareness, understanding, and gratitude—which opens us to greater intimacy with God.
Then there's the last statement, which is simply "Be." This one little word is what seems to be resonating with me most powerfully in this season. It reminds me that I can give myself permission to be who I am and however I am without judgment. God sees me and accepts me just as I am, and I can too. The same grace God gives me, I can offer myself. This word encourages me to be my true self in the midst of the chaos and stress without comparing myself to anyone else. And doing that helps me to extend the same grace to others, remembering that we all respond to crisis differently.
Whatever gives you life and helps you move toward peace and joy, do that. And whatever you do, give yourself permission and plenty of space just to be. Be who you are, however you are. It's so freeing to realize that you are seen, known, and loved by God just as you are—not because of what you do, but because of who you are. Nothing can ever change that, not even a pandemic. My prayer is that in the weeks to come you will hold onto that truth as you allow Psalm 46:10a to help you experience God's presence and peace as never before—just as you are, however you are.
Spiritual Practices to Try:
Imaginative Prayer Method
Awareness Examen (Upper Room)
Awareness Examen (IgnatianSpirituality)
Reimagining the Examen App
Centering Prayer App
*See the blog post "Be Still and Know," August 2019, for more about Psalm 46:10 and this reflective exercise.
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Hi, I'm Sally!
I'm passionate about connecting with God and connecting with people, offering spiritual encouragement and companionship. I'm so grateful to be on the journey with you as we walk with God together.