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Change is one constant in our lives, but that doesn't make it easy. The late singer Kenny Rogers used to sing a song with lyrics that said: "Life was so much easier 20 years ago." Some businesses cater to life in a simpler time in their marketing messages. In the movie "Sarah: Plain and Tall: Winter's End," you can see Model T cars riding on the same roads as horse-and-buggy carriages, along with the installation of a telephone in a traditional home.
Now society is in the midst of monumental change once again. How will we respond?
Here is my advice on how to build your spiritual life during this time of change:
Just do it.
Nike has the slogan "Just Do It," and this is good advice during this crisis. The first thing to do is to do something in such an unprecedented time. During this COVID response, my team was reminded "Don't waste a crisis." That is, find something to do.
As we are called to be idle at home, it is important that we use this time to think about our lives and how we might do things differently. An idle mind mentality could lead to occurrences of being anxious and depressed. Doing something can heighten your spiritual energy if you view it as worthwhile, value-added work, rather than the completion of tasks. Put another way, concentrate on where the divine longs for you to serve, and that will be the most effective work you can do.
Strive to live out a fulfilled spiritual life.
COVID-19 is causing many of us to think about how we are spending our time. Previously, much of our lives had been consumed by multiple activities. We are social, busy human beings by nature, so this time alone is like a new novel for all of us. One wonders if social distancing might become the new normal, so scheduling time for spiritual life-building can become part of the change of filling the void of loneliness. Concentrate on tasks and items that bring fulfillment, and increase joy and peace ― particularly those that grow your spiritual life ― rather than merely doing activities to fill the time.
View the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity, rather than just a challenge.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is a mammoth challenge, filled with added stress and loneliness, the existential part of change itself is an equal stressor amid all specific stressors. Once again, I go back to the adage of "Don't waste a good crisis." Herein is the glass half-full versus glass half-empty of changing one's perspective. Another adage goes "A person's perception is his/her reality." Sometimes change can be tilted toward a silver lining and that things aren't as bad as they seem to be. One way to be prepared for the best- or worst-case scenarios is to see the opportunities amid the challenges. A story was once told of a famous inventor whose laboratory blew up. But when asked about the bad in the situation, it was said that he replied, "Good, all my mistakes have been erased." If COVID-19 is seen as an opportunity, then look for the opportunities that may come to you.
Look for the good that you can do to help others.
Think about small acts you can do to brighten someone else's day. Every drop of water makes an ocean when added together. Think your local context. Think donations to shelters. Think of playing games or music with neighbors from a distance.
Watch for ways to grow and learn.
During this time, some families are joining faith services through online streaming and others are attending drive-in services. While not as effective as face-to-face services, these alternatives are giving faith communities and attendees new ways to be involved in worship. We could use some outside-the-box thinking, and a crisis might afford that opportunity.
Consider the ways that you use your time alone.
Now is the time to stay focused on the spiritual disciplines in our lives, such as prayer and meditation, because these disciplines apply to many faiths. Prayer is the way to connect to the deity, and this time of distancing one's self from people and events gives you an opportunity to focus more on the spiritual deity that may be the most important aspect of your life.
Chaplain William Creech is a clinically trained, board-certified chaplain in Mankato, Minnesota.