Today’s post is a guest blog written by Stacey Monaco.
Stacey has been speaking and writing since her first unpublished children’s book in the fifth grade. Her journey as a writer has taken her from the depths of blue water exploration, to the simplicity of crafting words to encourage and educate in the areas of loss, legacy, leadership, and living life passionately with purpose. Stacey received her Masters Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership from Talbot School of Theology, and has worked in many roles from slinging coffee to pastoring women. She is currently chasing down her 2 year-old grand-girl in Waco, Texas.
Memes and Instagram posts abound, seeking to find some sardonic humor in the state that we have all found ourselves wading through in this decade change called 2020. Six months into the life-changing events of a world pandemic, strained and punctuated by aching racial tension, as well as an impending election, many of us find ourselves quite simply bored, tired, and struggling with a cloud of fear. The question of what’s next, and when will this end, loom like rain clouds threatening to once again rain down some new and equally egregious heartbreak.
As human beings, our moorings have been threatened, and we are unsure of what is the next right thing to do. Is it okay to visit my family members? Should my children go back to school? Is it wrong to post some lovely thing that happened in my world on social media when others might be suffering? Should I bother voting? Is anyone, anywhere, telling the truth?
And then comes the inertia of it all. I have been in my house for so long, that it just seems so incredibly difficult to turn off that television, walk away from my computer screen, and stand up on two feet. I mean do I even know how to walk?
Do I even know how to walk? With the greater question being, “Do I even know how to live?”
In the earliest days of the changes that a world pandemic brought to my household, I looked around and made decisions about those whom I thought were the most vulnerable among our family members. My husband, who has survived cancer, lives with diabetes and is older than he used to be, or perhaps my sister-in-law who adds asthma to her diabetes and works in a care facility, or my young granddaughter who was not yet two when the pandemic began to impact our daily lives. There were these, and so many other loved one’s that drew my concern.
Not knowing facts about the virus of course led me to fear and a sense of helplessness. So in a heroic move, I took to the couch, to watch every bit of news my eyes could consume, and then to identify the weakest links among us. Who was likely to give an illness to whom? Who did I need to keep separate from whom? Suddenly, I became the great savior of my household, from the comfort of my couch. But truthfully, I had stepped eyes wide shut into fear and the ever-present reminder that I am simply not in control. Yup. This is still something God is working on in me here in my sixth decade. I guess I am also not as young as I used to be.
My youngest daughter was suddenly immersed in a college education now completely online, and the daily care of her daughter is my job. Would they carry the virus to my husband and I? Did we need to monitor everywhere they might go? All of these thoughts crowded my already overly stressed brain. Again, my response was intermittent sadness and fear, and a deep craving for the BIG C, of control.
You each have some version of this story. Fear is justifiable. Among the unknowns, concern, care, and gaining some understanding were an absolute necessity. Still, there is a truth that prevails that we as Christians must fight to remind ourselves.
We are made for life.
Yes, we are made for life, and not just any life, but a rich and satisfying life. Now don’t get me wrong, there has been some satisfaction in finally allowing myself to watch every single episode of Downton Abbey that I disciplined myself not to watch during grad school. Despite the pure joy of those hours, I don’t think that qualifies as the whole of the abundant life that Jesus declared that he had come to give. Jesus contrasted this declaration of a better life with a warning of a thief that wants to steal, kill, and destroy.
It is easy in these strange days to turn ours heads to the left and the right and to begin to think that this thief is Covid, or politics, or community unrest. Mandates to stay home, or wear masks, or wash our hands coupled with concerns for our local communities, and even our current lifestyles, can lead us down the rabbit trail of paralyzation, until we have no idea how to walk. Less and less we have the desire to get up off of our proverbial couches.
Read my intention here.
So here it is. We are made for this abundant, better, eternal, more kind of rich and satisfying life, and there is this wily thief that insinuates himself into every challenge we face using the daily struggles of an aching world to knock us down, and more desirably, to knock us completely out.
This is nothing new under the sun kind of stuff. Not for a solitary breath, has the heart of God or the word of Scripture changed in its declarative that we are designed for life. This is where we need to take seriously both the gift of life, and the opportunities we have to continue to be about the purpose and mission, for which we were given life. We are bringers of the gospel in whatever places God allows our feet, our words, or our actions to wander.
There came a point in time where I had to stop sitting on the couch, stop watching news reports, stop devising in my mind who needed protecting and stop trying to control how I could make sure that everyone was doing what they needed to be doing, and quite simply remember the God who loves me.
I recently heard psychologist Dr. Anita Phillips state that 2020 is mass trauma, and that our bodies are responding to it. To move forward we need to nourish our hearts, minds and bodies in the midst of what our souls find to be an ongoing traumatic event. In simpler terms, it is okay to say that this is ridiculously hard, and to feel mad, sad and everything in between. Having honored the truth of this grief, we must move toward the call of abundant life.
For me personally this has looked like limiting my news interaction to just enough to keep me educated, taking time to sit quietly to pray and read, and getting up early to turn on a workout or take a walk. I have reminded myself again and over again, that I am a human being made in God’s image, and that in order to be useful to others, I must discipline myself to rest well and care for myself.
I have reminded myself again and over again, that I am a human being made in God's image, and that in order to be useful to others, I must discipline myself to rest well and care for myself. Click To Tweet
Remember Your Call
The call for a Christian has remained constant since the days that the disciples tread the in sandaled feet. Jennie Allen says it well, “Take the things you are great at, whatever that is, and use it for the glory of God and the good of people.”
Love God. Love people.
A pandemic, racial unrest, and fearful newscasts predicting doom and gloom do not change the message. An election year does not change the message. We are gospel bringers, in our day-to-day lives called to pray, give, love, help in any and every way that we can, allowing the life of Christ in us to be exampled in tangible simplicity. I love the way the Message says it in Romans 12:1-2.
“So here is what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
Whatever time we have been given, whatever place we are in, whatever the world around us looks like, we can rest in the steady truth that we are still meant to use the skills, finances, belongings, and time we are given to quite simply be creative as we love God and love others.
Join me as we get up off of our collective couches and live!
Whatever the world around us looks like, we can rest in the steady truth that we are meant to use the skills, finances, belongings, and time we are given to be creative as we love God and love others. Click To Tweet