I hope everyone is muddling through alright in these crazy times…One of my favorite Christian podcasters is the hilarious Jen Hatmaker, who quotes Barbara Brown Taylor at the end of each of her interviews with the following question: “What’s saving your life right now?”
As I attempt to find a few spare brain cells amidst the chaos that is two children under 4 amidst a pandemic (WHY?!), I wanted to share some resources that have “saved my life” in the past as I’ve dealt with anxiety. These are anxious times and I think its a rare person that doesn’t need some additional support to make it through. Here are some helpful resources!
Mindfulness is a trend that I think should stick around for the foreseeable future. These practices help us to stay in the present moment with our thoughts rather than race ahead to an unforeseeable future.
Sarah Bessey’s “Breath” Prayers – prayer can be a mindful experience. I appreciate Sarah Bessey’s take on this.
The Headspace App – This Phone app saved my life a few years ago, when I had a job that I felt I could not handle. Every day at lunch I would do my 10 minutes of mindfulness and it would help me get centered again for the second half of the day. I still just use the free trial version and find it so centering.
One of my mother’s wisest sayings sticks with me to this day: “Don’t be cheap with your mental health.” I think this is one of my top five lessons from my mom and I pass that along to you in the form of a connection to my personal counselor, Janice McWilliams. Janice has offered herself as a resource to my readers in the form of “virtual counseling” if you live in the Maryland area. If you DO NOT live in the Maryland area, you can reach out to her for a one on one virtual “anxiety assessment” OR you can purchase her new course that she has just released TODAY that will help you specifically manage anxiety during this pandemic. Y’all, Janice is the best. Reach out to her if you need a partner or download her course.
Sunday Services: The Village Church of East Atlanta (my home church) is doing a virtual Sunday service each week during the pandemic. We “attended” last Sunday morning from the comfort of our home and found it quite edifying. All are welcome this Sunday morning! Just log in here from your couch.
Sermons worth Listening to: There are dozens of pastors out there that will be helpful to you in your journey. I think though that in a time like this, you cannot go wrong with Pastor Tim Keller from New York City. Many of his sermons are posted on his podcast page located here. I like to listen to sermons when I’m doing chores around the house and I think you will find Keller’s teaching insightful, encouraging and enlightening. Have a listen! It’s like listening to a wise grandfather speak directly to your heart.
Bible Study: I have been studying the book of Isaiah for lent, and I am amazed at how incredibly timely this has been. If you are the “studious” type, I’d highly recommend Ray Ortlund’s study of the book. It can be a bit heady but I have found it quite instructive for this Pandemic!
Book Study: Last year my friend Heather and I studied the book of Jeremiah, thanks to a book entitled “Run with the Horses” by Eugene Peterson. Frankly, any book by Peterson is a gem, but I REALLY enjoyed this one. It was an engaging read that explained the book of Jeremiah well for people who are not theologians. That would be most of us. Highly recommend!
These are the things that are coming to mind this lovely Friday. I hope you find them helpful. So, what’s saving MY life right now? Well, at this very moment, my husband is. He’s attempting to work from home with our two children while I sit in our empty church office and write to you fine people. Truthfully, we are exhausted by the needs of our tiny people right now and we are doing our best to handle this thing well. There’s just no getting around the difficulty though.
Additionally, though, what’s often saved my life is a statement that Janice shared with me eons ago that I come back to again and again: “It takes a 100,000 mindful moments to create a new neural pathway in the brain.”
Folks, our brains and our societies have tread some strange ground in recent decades. We have become more like widget counting robots than the creative humans we were meant to be. I think the pains we are enduring now are opportunities to tread some NEW ground. It’s taken 100,000 tiny acts of faith for me to trust that God knows what he’s doing. Its taken 100,000 breath prayers for me to not panic at every possible assault to a peaceful mind. Its taken 100,000 podcasted sermons for me to form a knowledge base for the way God works in the world and with his people. And its taken 100,000 Sunday services for me to realize that the people of God are my people and the house of God is where I will find the strength to do what the Lord has called me to do.
The actions we take over and over again create pathways for change. What are the things you can be doing with your heart, mind and body, over and over again, to create changes that bring you and the world some joy? Let’s start creating environments of spiritual, mental and physical health, even in our quarantined spaces. 100,000 moments from now, we may turn around and realize that we are different than we were before.