Take Time to Reflect
With all that is going on in the world today, my mind seems to be working overtime. My thoughts shift from one topic to another, and my emotions follow – frustrated with the inconveniences caused by COVID, angry about injustices that seem never-ending, burdened by the 24-hour news cycle, guilty when I disconnect from the news because it’s too much, sad for so many reasons… So instead of choosing one of the many topics I want to share in this space, I’m going to pause and reflect. I invite you to join me in this moment to catch our collective breath to remember we have the strength and courage for the work at hand.
This week I had the privilege of listening while my friend shared the story of a recent event in her life. As I let her words and the emotion communicated by her voice soak in, I noticed that my breathing became slow and deep. At one point I realized I was trying to breathe for her. My breaths, deep and long and measured, were the only way I could communicate presence over the phone. I wanted my friend to know she is not alone.
As I list the topics that emerge as important for me to consider right now: empathy, self-advocacy, compassion, connection, justice… I notice that my breathing becomes slow and deep. Maybe you find yourself in that space too. Let’s offer the gift of presence to each other and remember we are not alone.
Pay Attention to Strengths
To use this time as preparation and regain the strength and courage we all need to return to the work at hand, let’s spend some time reflecting on the strengths we have developed since COVID became the unwelcome presence in what we understood to be “normal” life. As I share my reflections, consider the strengths you have been developing over the last six months. Since March, I have:
- Learned to use Zoom. I was terrified the first time I facilitated a call on Zoom. I was terrified that technology would make me seem unprepared. I was also preoccupied with my appearance and just a little self-critical (well maybe more than a little). Since that first experience, I have learned to share my screen with ease, launch polls, and turn on my video share whether or not I’m wearing make-up.
- Committed to working out and following a regular yoga practice. Before physical distancing, self-care felt like a luxury. Now self-care is clearly a necessity. With the level of stress each day holds, I need to be attentive to my mental well-being. Taking care of my physical health and connecting with others through an on-line yoga class make a positive contribution to my mental health.
- Tried new things. Just before COVID hit the U.S. I decided it was time for me to go back to school. While I could not have anticipated the events that were about to unfold, I am learning new technology, meeting new people, having deeply meaningful conversations, engaging my work from a new point of view, and discovering a renewed passion for family wellbeing and the church’s role in that work.
Opportunity Within Problems
So maybe within the problem there is also opportunity. I wonder if that’s the case for other situations too. Frustration, anger, guilt, and sadness are completely reasonable emotions given the complexity of our experience these days. Maybe these emotions raise awareness to what matters, to what we need to spend our time working on. And as we discern what matters, what we need to spend our time working on, maybe it’s a good idea to spend some time breathing deeply and remembering the skills we bring to the table. What have you learned, committed to, and tried while adapting to life with COVID in the middle of an election year with issues of injustice front and center in the news and on our social media feeds?
While there is much to think about and much to do, you have much to offer. Take a moment and breathe. Scroll through your memories and make mental note of the strengths you are developing. Pay attention to the opportunities that show up along with the problems. Together we build strength and courage and we remember we are not alone as we breathe… then turn our attention to the work at hand. You are not alone. We’ve got this.