Who knew it was such an exhausting commute from the coffee pot in the kitchen to my office in the upstairs bonus room? Just 16 steps. Each way. I counted. It’s one of the quirky things you do on Day 89 of quarantine.
It’s got to be the commute. How else can I account for feeling so drained at the end of each day?
“It’s a pandemic,” I remind myself, because no one else is in the office to give me perspective, except the cat, who refuses to social distance.
“Of course, you’re tired.”
We’re three months into this season of COVID-19, and too often we underestimate the mental and spiritual toll it is taking. Particularly if we haven’t been hard hit personally by economic losses or the illness or death of loved ones, it is easy to question ourselves and our lack of energy or creativity or joy, wondering what we’ve done all day that possibly could bring on this consistent sense of fatigue, with an underlying hint of despair.
The layers of grief
A wise minister once told me grief is cumulative. When one loss or crisis follows another, the grief of the first one doesn’t end, and the next one begins. They layer on top of one another. They are heavier together.
The layers are many these days. This pandemic has brought steep technology learning curves, fewer hugs for encouragement, growing physical and financial fears and more questions than answers. Racial injustice and pain have risen to the forefront of our local and national conversations, including our churches and our dinner tables. And dare we say it? It’s an election year. One can’t begin to imagine the kind of rhetoric that awaits us in the months ahead.
These are hard, emotional days layered on top of families working, schooling and doing all of life together in close quarters. Many an important call is being taken in the bathroom because it’s the only place to find some privacy, and Rummikub, Catan and binge-watching Netflix are quickly losing their cathartic appeal.
It is exhausting.
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We thought a pandemic might put us all on the same team for a while, fighting a common invisible enemy. Instead, we’re walking a tightrope, trying to find balance between loving our neighbor and gathering for worship, between wearing face masks and economic recovery; trying to find balance on the scales of social justice and in our public discourse; trying to find balance in our own spirit.
Of course, you’re tired.
I am, too. But I have come to rely on a spiritual practice in these challenging days that has kept me grounded and, I dare say balanced, even as the chaos of life in 2020 continues. I want to commend it to you.
Every morning before I pray, I sit in stillness before God, resting in God’s presence. I empty my mind. I let my body sink into the chair. I don’t think, I don’t ask, I don’t do. I just am. I just am with God. I sit in stillness and in hope, trusting, believing, being. Because whatever the day might hold, I am reminded I don’t have to face it in my own strength.
There is much right now that can make us feel hopeless, overwhelmed; that we’re not getting it right or not doing as well as we think we should be. We’re Zoomed out. We feel less than.
But when you sit before God empty—not trying to be anything, not trying to impress or earn or say the right thing—when you stop trying to make it happen, whatever it is, you come back to the center, to the truth of who you are.
Our hope as resurrection people is “Christ is in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). You are the beloved child of God. You are enough, just as you are.
Resting in the truth
I don’t know what is on your plate today, what phone call you might be dreading or what decision feels like it is a no-win situation. But I invite you to sit and to be and to rest before God, to remember who you are, because whether you rock this day or it is a hot mess, it doesn’t change the truth about you, and you don’t have to go it alone.
I wish I could tell you it’s all going to turn out fine. But it’s a pandemic. No one has a playbook for this, though everyone has an opinion on it. And you can’t do anything about that. But you have the strength and the wisdom and the peace of the one who promised, “I will be with you always.”
Christ in you, the hope of glory. Whatever comes our way in all that remains of 2020, that is our unwavering hope, and it is a hope the world very much needs to see right now in you and in me.
Rest well in God, my friend. Be hopeful.
Jayne Hugo Davis is the associate pastor for discipleship at First Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C., a coach and consultant with the Center for Healthy Churches and co-coordinator for CHC-Carolinas. The views expressed are those solely of the author.