The vicious mantra of our world is three simple words: DO. EVERYTHING. BETTER.
First, I am supposed to DO. Perform. Accomplish. Behave. “Make it happen.” Push. “Get ‘er done.” Move. Cross-off.
NOW I’M SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THAT IN A PANDEMIC.
Second, I am supposed to do EVERYTHING. Exercise. Eat healthy. Brush teeth. Make friends. Manage social media. Keep learning. Stay neat. Be spiritual. Dress appropriately. Make money. Recycle. Manage time. Connect with family. Serve others. Dream big. Sleep.
NOW I’M SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THAT IN A PANDEMIC.
Third, I am supposed to do everything BETTER. IN A PANDEMIC.
Stick to a quarantine exercise plan. Go hiking and biking and walking and get outside for at least one hour a day. PRESSURE.
Make completely nutritious and delicious meals from scratch with the limited supplies I am getting from the grocery store for all the people that are now in my house 24/7. Take my Vitamin C, D, E, fish oil, folic acid, B, K, and some kind of probiotic so that I build my immune system against this crazy thing. PRESSURE.
Brush twice AND floss once every day, plus do a serious mouth rinse. Avoid the dentist right now AND make sure I don’t get any cavities or weird tooth infections or gum disease or need anything for my mouth in the middle of all of this so that I don’t poison my dentist with my spit. PRESSURE.
Create meaningful relationships with diverse people groups. Do that now online. Reach out to people I haven’t seen in a while because now I have boatloads of time and I should not waste it on Netflix or Facebook. Oh, and write snail-mail letters. PRESSURE.
Keep my social media to a minimum while remaining completely engaged with those in my networks. Feel super guilty for the amount of time I am spending on Facebook and Instagram trolling for glimmers of hope. PRESSURE.
Take an online class (after all, now is my perfect opportunity) AND possibly teach one myself. Listen to life-changing podcasts. Read a book a week (or at this point, two). Stayed informed about the virus from reliable sources without freaking out. Actually, stay off the news. Which is it??? PRESSURE.
Have carefully marked and organized spaces for everything I own, even though the Container Store is closed and Amazon is running low on command strips. Make do with what I have in the house currently. Clean out my car with a Q-tip, but don’t use the Lysol wipes. Use Windex and paper towels, but rip those in half. PRESSURE.
Go to church regularly (now online, plus the mid-week prayer meeting they’ve added). Read a daily devotional first thing every morning and find one that will keep you hopeful, and not more stressed. Pray for everyone everywhere…nurses, doctors, the army, your friends, people in the hospital, your government leaders, the homeless, senior citizens, the immune-compromised. Give to all the charities that desperately need it right now because funds will run low, plus my poor church that won’t be getting all the cash in the basket. Be in a small group or two or three (online, of course). Be like Jesus, for goodness sake. PRESSURE.
Get dressed even though I’m not going anywhere. Look like nothing has changed in my world. Find hair-dye and apply it myself via video chat with my hair dresser. Make sure I don’t let any gray hair peak through in the next few weeks. Cut my own hair. Stop wearing my yoga pants. That only adds to the mental health issues I’m already facing. Do not sleep in my clothes that I wore during the day. PRESSURE.
Keep my job at the same time I am staying home. Don’t get furloughed and collect unemployment and become a drain on the system. Make sure to watch the stock market and figure out what to do about its falling numbers every single day. Don’t spend needless money right now, but keep the economy going at the same time. Take out life insurance. Berate myself about not moving money to a “safer” place before all this happened. Did I mention calm down and don’t add to the panic buying of all the paper towels? PRESSURE.
Rinse out every bottle and remove all the wrapping before I place it in the bin. Do not hide mostly-empty jars of peanut butter that are impossible to get clean under the trash in the garbage can from my newly-home college Environmental Science major. Don’t kill the planet for goodness sake. PRESSURE.
NEVER waste time. Especially now that I have a boatload of it. Make a schedule of all my activities for the day (see all the notes above) and stick to it. Everyone is saying it’s good for my mental health (which I am completely responsible to keep in check right now as well). Check all the boxes off my list every day because I am doing all the right things at the right time and in the right amount of time with no interruptions. PRESSURE.
Be with my family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find meaningful ways of connecting with each person. Homeschool all my kids under 18 and make sure my college students are not seeing their friends and infecting the population at large. Don’t have any fights even though everyone is completely irritable. Make puzzles, limit screen times, go outside, do a craft, make dinner together. Remember, the time is short and I will regret not making the most of it. Manage everyone’s mental health issues that are bumping up against each other, especially my own. PRESSURE.
Serve the homeless at a soup kitchen (is that still even allowed?). Clean that closet out and donate all my unused clothes (make sure I wash them first). Drive them to one of those bins during non-curfew hours so that I don’t get in trouble with the police. Give toilet paper to my elderly neighbor without touching him. PRESSURE.
Create space every day for the pursuit of my passions. Find a vocation that fits my personal purpose. Guiltily remind myself that it takes 10,000 hours of complete dedication to master a skill, and also guiltily remind myself I actually might have 10,000 hours right this very moment, one like no other. Think about all the amazing possibilities this has opened up for me. PRESSURE.
Lastly, get plenty of sleep (even more than the recommended 8 hours) even though my heart is racing three times with a mini-panic attack in the middle of the night. It’s the best thing for my immune system, so I’ve heard. There are no excuses. PRESSURE.
STRESS CLOSES IN LIKE A MONSTER, CHOKING THE LIFE OUT OF ME!
NO WONDER MY HEAD HURTS!
NO WONTER MY SHOULDERS ARE TENSE!
NO WONDER MY STOMACH IS IN KNOTS!
NO WONDER I’M A LITTLE CRANKY!
DO. EVERYTHING. BETTER.
The very simple, gentle lilt of Jesus is this:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with ME and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-29 The Message Version)
BIG SIGH FOR MY EXHAUSTED, ANXIOUS HEART.
I need this today and now like no other.
Jesus, help me listen to the whispers of your grace instead of the shout of the world.
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