Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash
It is undeniable. We are in a time of crisis. I pastor a small church of about 90 and seminary never prepared me for anything like COVID-19. I don’t know the first thing about mobilizing volunteers to check in on church members to see how their health is and if they need anything like food, medications, or the seemingly non-existent toilet paper.
I’ll be the first one to admit I have little idea of what I’m doing.
I am not alone.
When I face tough times, I remember the following…
I am married to a man who walks beside me. He’s currently taking care of me on my 11th day of illness and counting. He supports me when I need it. Which…..is……A LOT. He is a true partner in every sense of the word. My life doesn’t work without him.
I have a supportive family, by blood, by marriage, and by choice. Even though I don’t get to see them as often now that we have moved to Arizona, I carry their love and with me every day.
I am part of a mentoring group with Baptist Women in Ministry and these ladies have become friends and confidantes on my new journey in ministry. It’s nice to know there are other women ministers struggling just as much as I am.
I also have an amazing congregation that has surrounded Jason and me with nothing but support and encouragement. They truly have the patience of saints.
But what happens when the crisis is bigger than my personal bubble?
What happens when it seems like the world around me is crumbling?
The level of hoarding that people have been doing is something I haven’t seen in my lifetime. Stores have been stripped bare like they’re going out of business.
Yesterday, I joked that we’re all about to be on a cooking show where we have to start cooking dishes based on what we have left in the pantry. You know, kind of like Chopped.
After all, this is new territory for all of us. City, state, national, and international governments locking down public gatherings. The numbers of sick and dead increasing every day. Our collective anxiety levels have reached almost unbearable levels. And we’re all just a little sad about canceled events and missed opportunities to meet together.
If no one has told you this, whatever you are feeling is completely normal. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Regret. All of it.
But I also want to tell you that you are not alone.
I’m reminded of this every day when I see people posting much needed resources for all of the parents who are in a position of homeschooling their children for the first time. I see it on my Facebook clergy groups whose members regularly check on each other and share tips for how to still be the church when we can’t be in the church. I see it on Twitter when someone suggests going to your local mom and pop restaurant to purchase a gift certificate as a way to support them during this time.
A friend of mine who is a children’s minister said that her church, in all of their communications to their congregation, will be using a new hashtag. It’s one that I think we each need to be reminded of throughout the day as we hold to the recommended social distancing guidelines.
It’s a reminder that we are not alone, only separated in spatial terms.
It’s a reminder that we’re always together in our hearts.
Sure, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. We’re going to have to rely on technology more than we want to. Lots of clergy, including myself, are struggling trying to bring their churches into the age of technology by learning how to stream services and how to do online tithing. But if we all work on it together, the spatial distance between us will hopefully start to seem not as distant.
And maybe, just maybe, when we’re able to come back together again, we’ll be stronger as friends, families, churches, and communities. We’ll no longer take for granted the ability to spend time with people in our lives. We will be better stewards of our time and resources. We’ll be more aware of the vulnerable in our midst and make sure they are taken care of first.
You may think that this sounds unattainable. And maybe it is. But I hope not. I don’t want all of us to come out on the other side of this crisis unchanged. Because that would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
So check in with each other.
Share a roll of toilet paper with a neighbor in need.
Take care of each other.
We’re all we have.
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