I’ve got to tell you this was one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever written. Feeling a little down (and I might add listless and lazy) I asked myself more than once, “what’s the point?” With so much going on in the world for so long amid the Covid-19 pandemic, what difference is a little piece of inspirational writing going to make?
I googled spiritual or religious writings regarding the Coronavirus. I hardly found anything. And I thought, let it begin with me. (a 12-Step Program saying) I challenged myself to offer to you what I think may be the good things we are to take away from this trying time, however long it lasts. Turns out I believe they tie into the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
1) Love: This seems like a no-brainer…of course we want to come out of this pandemic more loving…but will we? I hope so. I believe so. I know I’ve had people reach out to me with caring messages and I in turn have reached out more to others, even if it’s with a kinder greeting in an email or phone call just to check in and make sure everything is ok.
2) Joy: This one’s tougher…but not unattainable. In fact, sometimes when we have to put more effort into something, we get more out of it. I’ve been trying harder to appreciate everything around me, especially since Mother Nature is putting on her spring show…whether it’s the colorful flowers, birds chirping or (seemingly) bluer skies, when I stop to smell the roses and be grateful, I’m bound to feel joy.
3) Peace: With a little less time spent going and doing and a little more time to myself, I have had the opportunity to just BE STILL and soak up a little more serenity than usual, whether it’s through a hot bath or a few minutes of prayer and meditation. It’s been nice.
4) Forbearance: The word means “patient self-control, restraint and tolerance.” Now that’s a tall order when you’ve just tried to find toilet paper for the umpteenth time with no luck and the lady at the counter in front of you just got the last two rolls. But then…you smile and bite your tongue and manage with what you have and then…after finding acceptance…you find some. You may have also had to add a measure of this when working and living 24/7 with family members. You take a deep breath and ask the Lord for help. Or phone a friend. Or go for a long walk. I know my patience (not one of my strongest virtues) has been stretched and so has my spiritual growth because of it.
5) Kindness: And you offer the extra package of toilet paper…or meat…or (fill in the blank) to someone else who has less than you do. And that makes you feel pretty good. I’ve learned kindness really is its own reward.
6) Goodness: I know I have had a little more time to spend with the Lord in this “pause.” I ask to know and do His Will and I hope if nothing else I am a little better in the end because of it.
7) Faithfulness: I also have tried to be more trusting in the Lord, which means reading Scriptures more often and praying a little more…and watching the news and dwelling in fear a lot less over the course of this pandemic. A friend taught me to “breathe in faith and breathe out fear.” Sometimes just deep breathing is enough of a lesson.
8) Gentleness: I have not only tried to be more gentle to others during these tough times, but also gentler on myself. So the long list doesn’t get done…instead of beating myself up I have found myself saying there is tomorrow and likewise, why take on tomorrow’s worries today? I’m hopefully a better me when I take it easy on myself and others.
9) Self-Control: It is hard, now that many of us are sheltered in place, working from home and holding ourselves accountable, to not become too lax and indulge ourselves too much – to keep up with exercise, not eat junk, stay mentally sharp, not watch too much TV – in short, to stay fit physically, mentally and spiritually. A tall order but pays off in the long run.
This time will end, this too shall pass…and how do we want to emerge from it all? I hope a little wiser, kinder, more loving, joyful, peaceful and faithful…and a little closer to God. As Saint Paul adds in his Letter to the Galatians, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other…A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 5:24-26, 6:7-9)
I am planting a vegetable garden for the first time this year (my sons gave me everything I needed for my birthday to do so) – how apropos for this time, to remind me if I plant seeds and do a little work, God will provide the rest needed to grow my garden so I can reap the rewards…as long as I don’t give up.
Dear Lord, please help me to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit, especially in this time of crisis and need throughout the world, focusing on growing my “garden” and never giving up.
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