Happy New Year! Or better, may you find some happy in this new year. (From a post I wrote).
When I started this newsletter, I was reading more widely about grief and loss and how to help. And then I was sharing that with you. We had a good streak of newsletter editions. And then suddenly, we all got embroiled in loss. As I wrote in October, we were experiencing excess grief. SInce I wrote that, there has been even more loss.
I’m guessing that you and I accomplished more than we think in the last few months simply by surviving. I’m guessing that you, as I am, may be thinking that you didn’t get enough done, that you are feeling a little lazy, unproductive, unmotivated.
However, as I remind others, and sometimes remind myself, we’ve been in a season where much of what we expected was disrupted. The way we work, the way we care, the way we encourage, the way we worship, the way we live, the way we learn. For many people, many of these changed.
We should feel tired. The measures of productivity have to change. This is hard. And we aren't lazy.
And so my conversation with God for each of us is that we will be aware of God’s sufficiency, of our reality, and that we will have the peace and courage and wisdom we need daily.
Recently, I was thinking about not knowing how to pray during one of the scariest hospital times, a code blue. That led to a post about praying for everyone else around, and then praying for the patient between life and death. While I was in the space between writing and publishing, I showed up another code and had the opportunity to test my thoughts. Which sounds funny about prayer. But I found my own words made sense.
One of my words for last year, and for the next year, is “finish”. When I saw a Jon Acuff book called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, I decided to explore it. It’s not my preferred writing style, but he’s talking about what gets in the way as we think about finishing stuff. He starts with discussing the value of letting go of perfect, then moves to cutting the goal in half, choosing what to bomb, making it fun, leaving hiding places and ignoring noble obstacles, getting rid of secret rules, and using data to track where you actually are. These help me. I’ve often quit a process completely when I miss one day (like running every day). I often try to succeed at everything rather than saying, “That, intentionally, is going to be mediocre so I can finish this.” I often set up secret rules, rules in my head, that don’t matter to anyone else, but I think they might matter. And so I don’t get done.
I started reading a Barna research report that pastors feel ill-equipped to help with trauma, and that people tend to not feel supported by their churches. In fact, one in three people who are practicing Christians distanced themselves from church during trauma. This number is sad and makes sense. It makes sense because people are often unable to be honest about the grief and pain they feel. A person will move away from a church if for example, the trauma is abuse and people in the church side with the abuser, if the trauma is COVID-19 related and people in the church minimize the data, if the trauma is race-related and people in the church minimize the causes.
There is going to be a lot of trauma-recovery in the next few years for those who are honest about the loss of the last twelve months. Learning about disaster, trauma, recovery, is going to be important. I'll explore that more.
Last October, I suddenly decided to create an Advent journal for 2020 to help us process the year. Some people on this mailing list found it helpful. If you think about it and are an Amazon review writer, I’d love for you to leave a review. That book was dated 2020, so it won’t be useful in the future. But having reviews will help with credibility for the future.
Quote on my bulletin board.
“That’s all very interesting. But where is Jesus?” J.I. Packer. Quick to Listen, 7/23/2020. Talking about all the articles he reviewed for Leadership Journal.
In closing. . .
Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Wear a physical mask. Consider letting go of spiritual masks.
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