Here in New Jersey, we're entering Week 5 of a statewide Stay At Home order. Our Governor said this will likely last through may - and it will probably be June or July before we return to some semblance of a "normal life. Over the past few weeks, I've been talking to so many people who are starting to lose steam and lose hope. Anxiety and depression are increasing. So, in these dark times, it's the heart of our church to teach you how to care for your soul in a crisis.
In Psalm 23, we learn that Jesus is our Good Shepherd who gives us everything we need not just to survive, but to thrive. Verse 2 says "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters." Likewise, this Stay At Home order is forcing us to lie down. To rest. In fact, this quarantine can be a divine invitation from Jesus to restore your soul! How? Here are 6 steps you can take to care for your soul in a crisis:
1) TURN SOCIAL DISTANCING INTO SOLITUDE WITH JESUS
Did you know? In Mark 6:31-32, after a time of intense ministry, Jesus and his followers actually took some time away from the crowds to recharge spiritually. In the same way, we cannot serve others fully when we're serving from a deficit. On an airplane, when explaining safety precautions, they say to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. This is to keep you from passing out as you help those around you. In the same way, we need to plug our oxygen masks into time spent in solitude with Jesus - he is the tank that will fill us up!
2) PUT FAMILY FIRST
Are you spending your days working from home, plugged into Zoom meetings for hours at a time? Take breaks to emotionally engage with your family and redeem this time together. Share meals and go for a walk with the family. You have an opportunity like none other to connect with your family during this time.
3) ESTABLISH A DAILY ROUTINE
Who else spent the first few weeks of quarantine in sweatpants? While it was fun for a while, you'll want to shower and get changed to embrace a daily routine. Even try your jeans on every now and then just to make sure they fit! Establishing a routine helps you create a rhythm and balance your work week so you don't burn out.
4) BEFRIEND YOUR EMOTIONS
When we're in crisis mode, it's easy to neglect our feelings of exhaustion, fear, anger, and sadness. However, it's actually a healthy practice for us to lament, cry and break down. If we fail to feel our emotions or ignore them, we'll just go through the motions. But, when you're in touch with your emotions, you don't have to be ruled by them. Your kids need an emotionally healthy parent. Your spouse needs you to be emotionally in-tune so you can be the healthiest version of yourself in this crisis.
5) ESCAPE, BUT USE DISCERNMENT
We get it: Tiger King is a great escape! Joe Exotic is something special. We all need to escape reality from time to time - but be careful what you fill your mind with. In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul writes about the importance of monitoring your mind. So, use discernment with your media intake.
6) DAILY MANNA
In Exodus 16, when God's people were stranded in the wilderness with nothing to eat, God gave Israel MANNA from Heaven! It was literally miracle bread. However, it was only good for 24 hours, so if they tried to hoard it overnight, it would rot. Similarly, it's impossible for us to know the future in this crisis. We don't know what's next or how long it will last - but, we DO know that God can give us enough strength, wisdom, and grace for each day.
We believe that in Christ, this quarantine can not only be endured, but it can be redeemed. We didn't choose this crisis - but we do have a choice in how we handle it. Will you feed your faith? Draw close to Jesus? Put your family first? Befriend your feelings? A healthy you is what your loved ones need the most right now: So, put on your own oxygen mask first.