February 2021. Conrgatualtions! You survived 2020 which was, by anyone’s standards, a crazy year. Covid. Working from home. Online learning. Online teaching. Quarantines. Masks. Temperature checks. Lockdowns. Riots. US elections.
Was there anything that went according to plan in 2020? With the pandemic, routines were upended, jobs were lost or furloughed indefinitely, and finances took a hit. (Spoiler alert! I will not be announcing the arrival of the 4th horse of the Apocalypse from the book of Revelation or name any persons involved in potential conspiracy theories related to Covid.)
How do we as believers live in times like this? Here’s some basic “garden variety” Biblical advice. Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of the human spirit and it includes the following list: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Let’s look at these and how they can help us live right in a world gone wrong.
That last one has been what I’ve spent the past year focusing on. Self-control. The mental health world talks about “controlling the controllables.” We as believers have the help of the Holy Spirit to walk in these characteristics. Amazingly, some things are still within my control and are not impacted by Covid.
I can still be loving to people I talk with daily (even if it’s only via phone or video chat.) I can still choose joy. One of the habits cultivated this past year was writing down at least 1 thing I was thankful for at the end of each day and by doing so, choosing joy. Peace – I have learned that I need to stay informed, but that watching and listening to the news 24 hours a day disturbs my peace. So I stopped doing it! And wonder of wonders — my peace levels improved!
Patience – Nobody likes this word. But patience is being built the more I trust God in the midst of this crazy process. Will I work at home or in school tomorrow? No idea. Just be patient whatever occurs. Kindness – If someone steps into my space and is not wearing a mask, how do I respond? Do I flip out? Deliver the lecture of a lifetime on the necessity of personal protection? How about a kind word? “Hey friend, did you forget your mask?” Goodness – Can I be good to someone? I have a co-worker who loves popcorn and it’s not widely available where I live. I found it in a small market nearby and I occasionally buy it for my co-worker. Why? Just to be good to her. She wrote me a note, “Thanks for the popcorn. It makes me happy.” Really, that small act of goodness and kindness makes someone happy?
Gentleness – I work with children every day. I am concerned with how this situation is impacting their mental well being. How gentle can I be with them in trying to restore some normalcy. We did a virtual Christmas program, they wore masks, and I personally wasn’t even present because I had been exposed to Covid. I wanted to cancel, but my principal said no. Several co-workers jumped in to film everything, put the students in costumes, etc. Why? Because even though a virtual Christmas program isn’t the same, it still is gentler for the students than doing nothing.
And the last in the list is self-control. In a world gone wrong, I get to be in charge of myself, my reactions, and whether or not I am walking in the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5. Living right in a world gone wrong has little to do with all the outward situations and circumstances I find myself in and far more to do with my inner life and the health of my spirit. I can control the controllables — be in charge of myself, my thoughts, my heart, my life, and live right in a world gone wrong.
Living right in a world gone wrong has little to do with all the outward situations and circumstances I find myself in and far more to do with my inner life and the health of my spirit.