Surrendering to Rest in a Time of Pandemic
Oh hey! Remember me? I used to write to you on the regular until a new teaching job, grad classes, and parenting young children had me a bit...preoccupied.
But if I am being honest, that's me pretty much always. One stark realization learned from this social distancing/life on pause situation is that while I was really born for a quarantined lifestyle (I am proud to be an introverted homebody who loves reading and hates small talk), I am painfully entitled, addicted to comfort, and dependent on (faux) control.
While from the outside, I might look like a person who rests because I'm not a partier, I'm not climbing the corporate ladder, and I don't have a vast social network, for me, it's always been the mad scrabble beneath the surface...to do...more, better, faster.
I don't know about you, but this being homebound has me irritated and grumbling. This past week was Spring Break for my kids and me regardless. A previously scheduled break to rest.
Yes, we probably would have taken a small trip or maybe visited the trampoline park or seen a movie, but really, the week wouldn't have looked a ton different even in "normal, non-pandemic" circumstances.
Yet here I am snapping at my kids, complaining to anyone who will listen to me how bored I am, and anxious as can be about school and the future.
And even as I write these words, the conviction is real. I am owed nothing. I deserve worse. And God is always good. But those have just been trite phrases to me this week. And despite not knowing suffering in any sense of the word, really, I behave as though I do.
For me, it's pride...hubris. It has been both gradual and pervasive...a socially acceptable love affair with comfort. A tricky, and often subconscious, undermining of my own beliefs.
I may not want or need to go anywhere, but I am moody and ticked if I am told I cannot.
I "believe" that this is my Father's world. He is sovereign. That He can use all the bad for our good and His glory. But I still willingly fall into fear as I fix my eyes on social media and the nightly news.
I self-medicate by doing. I run from rest. I claw for control. On Day 2 of being stuck at home, I became a deranged drill sergeant barking at the kids to clean, and while my closet really has never looked better, my faith and love, and joy, and peace are hurting. While checking something off a list can feel gratifying in the moment, it never lasts for me.
Why? Because I believe we weren't made for this. This clamoring. This striving. The crutch of a checklist. The incessant scroll. For me, it is cognitive dissonance...perpetually trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
I willingly serve a God who values Sabbath. Who graciously commanded rest (like a good parent who knows the value of naptime). Who promised to carry our yoke and our burdens. Yet I still chafe against stillness. I grapple to fill every waking moment even with "good" things like learning and listening and work. I honestly can't think of a day in the past year--even this crazy week--where I didn't work, strive, or worry, and my discontent is proof of that.
Guys, this is so ingrained in me. It is deep. This is confession time. I'm not writing today with answers. I am pleading for deliverance.
This time away has been a mirror, and I do not like what I see. I am not living my faith in a way that glorifies the God I love or gives grace and a model to my children or brings hope to the people in my sphere of influence.
And even in that self-awareness, there is temptation. To numb by watching another episode on Netflix. Or quiet the conviction with a podcast. Or distract my mind with a household chore. So that I don't have to think or feel the things I need to think and feel. Because it can be so dang scary to do that. To get real and sit in it. To stop what you know and go to the source of true rest instead of trying to manufacture it on your own.
Something tells me this will be a lifelong thorn both before, during, and after this Covid-19 business. I know from experience I can't do it on my own. So I guess I am looking at a daily, hourly, maybe minute-to-minute surrender to rest. It sounds ridiculous (entitlement usually does), but I can't think of any other way to describe it. We need to let ourselves rest. Accept the comfort we need instead of the comfort we want. Like the cranky toddlers we are, we need to stop fighting and succumb.
I don't know what the days ahead will bring, but I am confident I will be better equipped to handle it if I find true rest in the Creator of true and lasting Sabbath.
I also don't know how God will speak to you in this time of uncertainty, but step one for me was meditating on Psalm 23 and making it my own. Maybe it will help you too. Take care, friends!
The Lord is my shepherd--I am a silly sheep, and He is my example and guide.
I have all that I need--It is not necessary to fight over toilet paper.
He lets me rest in green meadows--in quiet away from the noise.
He leads me beside peaceful streams--where anger, irritation, and fear subside.
He renews my strength--even when I don't think I need it.
He guides me along right paths--unlike social media.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley--like a global pandemic.
I will not be afraid for He is close beside me--even when the future is unclear.
Your rod and staff protect and comfort me--better than hand sanitizer and Netflix.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies--better than any 5-star, dine-in restaurant.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil--I am literally covered in Your love.
My cup overflows with blessings--my mind could not fathom all You have done for me.
Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life--I cannot be apart from Your Presence
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever--not at a distance or in quarantine, but in sweet communion and perfect peace.
Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.