Difficult times have a way of helping us see what really matters. And if we open ourselves to embrace 'what is' God truly can do a mighty work in our hearts. This unusual season of quarantine is no different. It's having an effect on all our lives. Maybe these few things can help give you some words to ask God about as you listen for His heart and find your footing in this season.
I believe that God is with us and working in us. When I pray, I'm opening myself to Him anew and being attentive to His work within me. Sometimes, I am simply still just being with Him, trusting He enjoys being with me. When I pray for the people I love, it reminds me that in the spirit we are all waiting and watching to find out how God will act and interact with us. Journaling about what is happening in me and what I'm noticing in the world around me, and bringing this into my relationship with Him can be very helpful in prayer. Learning about and practicing old tried and true spiritual disciplines like, Lectio Divina can also enhance your awareness of God with you in prayer.
2. Stay Connected
I have a new budding gratefulness for technology. As a person who has historically resisted the new tech trends I find myself so happy we have them! Not for self focused desires but for connection with other human beings. During the last few weeks of quarantine I have signed up for Zoom for myself to help further my spiritual direction training and connect with my friends and family. I've downloaded Messenger Kids for my children to connect with their friends. The ability to connect through Zoom, Skype, Facetime, texting or phone calls, are all great ways to stay in relationship with others. We are social beings. We absolutely need to know we're connected to someone outside ourselves.
3. Reach Out
See how your neighbors are doing. We can still practice social distancing through talking with each other from the safety of our own yards or starting a group chat with the people on our block. We can drop off flowers, a bottle of wine, fresh baked cookies, or cards on each others front steps. See how you feel prompted and led and go do it! Thankfully, social distancing does not mean the end of serving.
4. Cultivate Gratitude
There is always something to be grateful for. Always. As I write this, I am healthy and my family is healthy. I am grateful for more time together, the shared meals, the books I'm reading, for the birds chirping outside my kitchen window, for the silly playfulness our dog Jack gives to our home. Gratitude gives us perspective and a sense of peace as we look and see and thank God for His tangible gifts and provision.
5. Slow Down
Last but not least, slowing down seems to be key. Even as someone who is energized by others, I have often desired more time for contemplation. More time to look up at the sky, take a walk, write and read. Sometimes, it takes a forced slow down to sit still long enough to see what actually feels invited by God in the present season. Perhaps not being able to do some of the things I'm used to filling my time with is a gift right now.
While we wouldn't choose for this hard thing to happen or, the many inconveniences it causes, as we process it, we will be ready to embrace how God is going to reveal more of His heart to us through it. In this uncertain time, the invitation seems to be to open our lives to God's love and discern how He wants to reorient our plans so we align with Him.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now."
- Rainer Maria Rilke
I have many memories of myself jumping to answers or "quick-fix" solutions to a challenge to escape the uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing because of them. It used to be my 'normal' to attempt to control because I didn't know any other way. I'm aware of how living with a question that feels so pressing and uncomfortable to one's heart and mind doesn't feel good. I remember what I would experience.
I would have a question or feel like there was a problem. I would take control, figure it out, and go about trying to fix it, but nothing seemed to truly progress. I was a Christian, a Jesus follower, but I didn't know how to apply the things that were unresolved in my heart and let them be a part of my relationship with him. I didn't know yet how the uncomfortable parts were inviting me into a deeper relationship.
I believe our ability to hold our questions is crucial because if we can't we ignore one of the biggest parts of what makes us human. Our value and his purposes for us are difficult for us to see if we can't look and ask and wait in our real longings inside this sacred relationship. When we can't wait with our questions, we tend to rush ahead, trying to make something else work or happen instead.
In other words, we tend to try to control and manage life instead of discerning what Jesus is doing
in our life.
True connection with God as my love and my guide draws me toward maturity, understanding, and grace. My increasing capacity to be attentive to myself in God's presence brings light and truth into my heart. As I wait for the awareness I need to hear, friendship with Jesus becomes more personal. When I rush away from my questions, it actually disregards the experience of relationship.
When I try to answer too quickly, take control, and figure out a solution on my own, I haven't given myself a chance to experience Jesus and hear His voice in the situation.
Becoming present to ourselves, to Jesus, and at times a trusted soul friend nourishes a deeper feeling than a quick-fix response ever can, but it requires going there with him. It takes practice.
Starter Prayer ...
Father, Son, and Spirit, help me lean on you instead of running into my own conclusions. Enable me by your spirit to listen in prayer and in life as you reveal what I need to know. Your revelations, your heart, your wisdom means more to me than feeling like I have control. Thank you, for nourishing me as I wait with you.
Can I hold my question with the Lord without trying to solve it?
Can I be patient with this thing that is unsolved in my heart?
Can I rest with my question in God's presence?
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation my fortress where I will never be shaken."