As the Covid-19 cloud settled into position over our society (and world), people were making guesses about how long it would be before the winds changed, skies cleared, and things went back to normal.
A few weeks? Months?
Today, people are more reluctant to make guesses. Those first timelines proved too short. Once bitten, twice shy. All of us are realizing that we might be in this predicament longer than we expected.
But as we’re all finding out, living in a pandemic takes its toll—physically and mentally. Our routines are disrupted. We’re taking in more news than is healthy. Some people are lonely. Some are exhausted. Some are now unemployed. Or might be. Eating, exercise and sleep patterns have transformed—not always for the better. Many are watching investments and savings diminish. Those close to the edge are possibly even more on edge.
So here are 5 suggestions that might be helpful.
Cut yourself some slack
Things are not the same. We’re experiencing a global pandemic. Has buying groceries ever been this complicated?
More people are working from home (or adjusting to a new work situation), homeschooling their kids, trying to think through extracurricular (if even possible), dealing with limited access to services that previously provided care and support, and trying to stay in touch with loved ones. The list goes on.
Well, guess what? You can’t do it all. And I don’t think you should try. You’ll just be perpetually disappointed. You’re not a bad person for not being able to “have it all together.” We are living through a global pandemic for goodness sake!
Did you miss some homeschooling? Don’t beat yourself up. Did you [insert-your-own-personal-disappointment-here]? You’re not Godzilla.
Focus on the basics
A crisis creates clarity about what’s important. So, what’s important? Our relationship with the eternal and saving God and the people we care about. There are other things. But those are at the top of the list.
Pray. Read the Bible. Worship. Continue family devotions.
Wake up. Get dressed. (Pajamas all-day is good some of the time not all of the time.) Eat meals. Do the dishes. Do your work as best you can. Go for a walk. Go to bed at a reasonable time.
Pay attention to your mental health
My gut tells me that most people are experiencing more mental strain than they think they are. Symptoms might be materializing now. Some won’t show up until later. It’s hard to be sure.
Either way, you need to be proactive about your mental health. I’m not a psychotherapist; I’m a pastor. From my vantage point we need to limit non-stop news (we can’t mentally sustain panic-mode indefinitely), get a decent amount of rest, and reach out to trusted friends and lean on each other. Even though we can’t physically be with them, I’m convinced that God puts people in our lives to help us pilot our lives. He’s awesome like that.
[For a full blog I wrote on this same subject click here: Your mental health—now more than ever]
Lean into material modesty
You need to be able to function in the short term, while being mindful of the uncertainty you face in the long term. You may need to be more cautious with your finances because you know less about tomorrow than you did yesterday.
Be wise with money. Sure, it’s nice to treat yourself here and there. But for many people it will make sense to moderate some of the extras to secure the necessities. Simplicity isn’t about less; it’s about more.
Keep following Jesus
Those of us who follow Jesus and trust in his Lordship are his hands and feet. We listen to his voice. We respond to his voice. The wreckage of a global pandemic makes us more attentive, not less. God is in control even when we feel out of control. We look for and respond to opportunities to serve others. In the process, we rely not on our own strength, but on God, who has given his Spirit to live and work within those who trust in him.
Remember, since God can’t lose, you can’t lose. And as John Lennox, the mathematician and apologist, recently remarked in an interview, the world can give us medicine, but only God can give us peace in Christ—forever.
Friends, we are living with uncertainty indefinitely. But it will end. With God’s help, we will prevail. Of that there is no doubt.
- Cut yourself some slack
- Focus on the basics
- Pay attention to your mental health
- Lean into material modesty
- Keep following Jesus
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Excellent advice, Matthew
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Good advice, but i think we always live with uncertainty. “You know not the time……” . We pretend we don’t so that we feel some control over our lives. But every moment of life is a gift of God, and so we live in gratitude in the midst of uncertainty and learn to live in the stillness of God’s presence so that we can “keep calm and carry on”. Thanks for your post, Matthew.
Hi Mary Helen, what you say is very true. When people think they have control it’s actually the illusion of control. But I think the current situation simply makes people aware of how little control they have! Thanks again for sharing.