It was really hard when I had to erase most of the events on my April calendar because of quarantining and social distancing. The last 15 days of March were not as shocking to let go of but there were several things I was REALLY looking forward to in April (and the rest of the summer for that matter)! I erased baby showers, dance recitals, baseball games, and hosting friends for dinner. Letting go of these events which promised future fond memories caused me grief.
I am an extrovert; I get my energy from being around people. It takes EVERY fiber in my being to resist hugging someone upon greeting them. We’ve had a few people stop by our house to drop things off and I longingly stand six feet away, wooing them to stay and chat longer. I normally homeschool my kids, but I find myself getting frustrated more easily and losing my temper. There seems to be an underlying anxiety and uncertainty for the future. On the surface I am able to tell myself, “I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” But underneath I am struggling.
I’m sure the women and families in our church are struggling too. Many working moms have been forced to work from home and homeschool their kids with nowhere to go and no friends to see. The stress of keeping your home germ-free and protecting your family from this deadly virus can feel overwhelming. All of these things can be self-revealing, magnifying what we secretly worship – safety, security, comfort, friends.
Ruth Chou Simons says in her book, Beholding and Becoming, “If I trace every complaint about my circumstances back to its origin, I find that my addiction to productivity, efficiency, and comfort are always at the center of my unhappiness… at the root of my discontentment is what I love most, and without my love being reordered and remade by Christ, I will always chase endlessly what was never meant to satisfy…”
Many of the projects I was working on, like planning a women’s conference at our church, planning future small groups and Bible studies, planning hospitality gatherings in our home, came to a screeching halt. I’ve found myself kind of wandering through my day listlessly because I’m not sure what to put my effort into. Like Ruth said above, I have an “addiction to productivity” and I measure the success of my day by how much I was able to accomplish. Much of that has been stripped away.
This time of self-revealing has been very sanctifying for me. I am allowing the Holy Spirit to do His gentle work that is always so transformative. Stress brings out of our hearts what was ALREADY there. I refuse to walk in condemnation (Rom. 8:1) but I also refuse to let myself be entitled to pity parties. If we let Him, the Holy Spirit will do His work of conforming us to the likeness of Christ. Fruit will be produced if, with patience, we ask “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” says Psalm 139:23-24.
Christ is our true GOOD; He is always doing what will bring Him the MOST glory and what is MOST loving. Right now, one of the most loving things He is doing in my life is rooting out my idols of self, causing me to trust and rest in Him, and altering my perspective of what really matters. I am trusting Him to accomplish Romans 8:29 in my life, “…to be conformed to the image of his Son.” To continue on in Romans 8, I remind myself that I am more than a conqueror and NOTHING can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (vs. 37-39). Don’t believe the serpent’s lie, like Eve, that God is withholding something good from you. He is a good and gracious King.
We have to preach the gospel to ourselves, which is simply a daily reminder to our forgetful souls of all that the resurrection has accomplished for us. The resurrection affects every aspect of life! David preached to his soul in Psalm 42. Twice he says,
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation [and my God]. (vs. 5, 11)
Proclaiming God’s truth from His Word over your heart, soul, and mind is the most encouraging, rousing, and soul-stimulating thing you can do. It’s better than your morning cup of coffee!
Here are 10 practical things I’ve been doing each day to stay grounded in the Word, preach the gospel to myself, and keep an eternal perspective:
- Have a plan for your daily Bible study – I’m studying Hebrews, so I read one chapter a day with a commentary.
- Get outside everyday – Go for a long walk, hike, or run. Work in your yard and get your hands in the soil.
- Play gospel-proclaiming music throughout the day – Have a dance party!
- Get a dog – Just kidding, but really, we are.
- Create experiences to look forward to each day – We’ve done Easter egg hunts around the yard (not even just for Easter), had family game nights, put together door-drop-off gifts for our neighbors, and video-chatted with friends and family.
- Read the books on your shelf that you haven’t gotten to.
- Look at the big picture – This too shall pass; God’s purposes will be accomplished; the gates of hell will not prevail against the kingdom of God!
- Have the perspective that God is always at work and will do whatever it takes to gain the MOST glory for Himself! He will also do WHATEVER it takes to draw you closer to Himself.
- Pray – Pray for revival in the hearts of your fellow believers to wake up. Pray for the hearts of unbelievers to be “delivered … from the domain of darkness and transferred … to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). In fact, Colossians 1:9-14 is a great prayer to pray!
- Do something to serve and love your neighbors each day – Bouquets of hand-picked flowers in jars, baked bread, hand-drawn cards or notes, walk their dogs, etc.
Now is a pivotal time for the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that is seeking and asking questions. Let’s be His visible presence in our communities as we love well and keep an eternal perspective. Let the Holy Spirit do a DEEP work in your heart so that you are not merely having the “fake it till you make it” attitude. If you allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish His good work in your life you will not merely SURVIVE through this season of quarantine, but you can THRIVE!
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