June 18, 2020

Reentry – A Pandemic Renewal Plan Part 2

Every aspect of our lives has been tested – the landscape of our lives has undergone a radical upheaval. Living in Michigan, there have been a few times when I have experienced a “white out” while driving in a winter storm. It is completely disorienting. All the familiar points of reference disappear. This season we are in feels a lot like that – a blizzard. The best you can do, sometimes, is to slow down and find the yellow line on the side of the road.

We aren’t sure what the “new “normal will look like, which makes it all the more important to lean into (or begin for the first time) the basic habits and rhythms of a healthy life; slowing down and finding the yellow line. Continuing our exploration of how to navigate our reentry…

Step Three: Rebuilding weekly rhythms. Along with our daily rhythms, weekly rhythms can be the yellow lines we can follow when life is disorienting.

  • Embrace Sabbath. Sabbath (a 24-hour day of rest) is a way of ordering our lives. It allows us to create boundaries in time where we can breathe deeply, sit without any other purpose than to observe, delight and center ourselves in God’s goodness. Where we can reconnect with ourselves, letting our souls catch up to our bodies, and tell our families we love them with our whole-hearted presence.

Questions of who will “cover the bases” have to take a back seat to the overarching importance of setting into place healthy patterns that will allow you to be a healthy pastor for many years          to come. I found this quote from Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath – Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, “If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness            becomes our Sabbath – our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us.”  Add to that burnout and exit from ministry.

How can you make the pattern of Sabbath a reality in your life and ministry as you reenter?

  • Lean into relationships. Our lives seem to have been a never-ending series of online meetings, webinars and podcasts. Stepping back and redefining our actual sphere of influence, and those relationships that build us up, is critical. At the top of the list is our marriage. Beyond all the really good reasons that having a healthy marriage serves our ministry purposes, the bottom line is this relationship is all about becoming whole. God created us for this deep connection. It corresponds (is “fit”) to our need to be known and not alone. One of the best questions my wife ever started asking me was “How is your heart?” – and she wasn’t inquiring about the state of the physical pump in my chest. Whether you are married or not we need each other to find the yellow lines.
  • Figure out how to have fun. This remains a huge challenge for me. I have dabbled in some hobbies, played sports, and attended a lot of movies. Yet, enjoying (from the Middle English “to receive with joy”) eludes me. (Although a great piece of cherry pie with vanilla ice cream comes close.) We need non-task related opportunities to recreate – be re-created – and take joy in life. I decided the other day that tending my yard is a source of joy, even fun, for me. Fun is an act of faith, stepping away from the decisions and the daunting tasks to simply be in a time of enjoyment.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. (2:24)

Part Three coming up… Seek out resources to help.

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