Love Amidst Crisis

Currently, in America we are under the duress of the Novel COVID-19. My friends have deemed this time, “under the Rona”. Our country has been warned to stay home and to limit our exposure to others, to significantly shrink our social circles to those whom we cohabitate with and to do so for the foreseeable future. My family has done this for the past three weeks and as a house full of extroverts, this has been very challenging. Yet, even my deeply introverted friends, who have also been staying home for the past three weeks, have said this is beginning to challenge their sanity.

 

Unfortunately, this situation is likely to remain this way for a long period of time. My heart has broken with disappointment as all the usual things in this life that I love are one by one going away. Summer is a season our family lives to enjoy. It’s our time to flex our hospitality muscles and be with ALL the people. We intentionally reconnect with everyone we haven’t been able to see due to full life and school and sports schedules. We stay out late and enjoy hosting events and going out in nature with friends and family.

 

The dawning that all these things are likely not to happen is so sad. And yet, my mind has begun to ask the question, “how can I show love to the people who matter to me if I can’t be with them physically?”. I think in this time, we need more signs of affection and support than we ever have because we are going to continue to be disconnected from one another physically in order to stay healthy and safe for the long haul. Let’s consider how to show love from the perspective of love languages:

 

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Words of encouragement and affirmation
  3. Gifts
  4. Physical Touch Physical Distancing with Compassion
  5. Quality Time

 

Acts of Service: So you can’t do things yourself for the persons you love, but you can choose to do some safe things that serve someone. You can: send a friend a meal from a local business or make them a meal or treat and drop it off, mow a friend’s yard or do other yard work like pull weeds and trim bushes, go to the store and get something they need or go to your own pantry and give them something they need. Chalk up someone else’s driveway! Call your friend. Face Time them. Take the time to connect with them and just ask if they need anything!

 

Words of Encouragement and Affirmation: Send something in the mail! Drop a letter at their house personally. Organize a car parade and drive past their house honking and holding signs, send a text or a marco polo telling your friend how much they mean to you, start a bucket list of all the things you want to do together when this is all over and share it with your people, tell someone what you miss about being together or just that you miss being together! Tell your people what you like about them! (This is also great for the people you are cohabitating with!)

 

Gifts: This one is easy but it doesn’t have to be expensive or boujee. Cut some flowers from your garden/yard and drop them at a friend’s house. Buy a small container of fresh herbs to grow or some bulbs/plants that will last so that when you are together again they will remind you of what you went through. Paint a rock, a flower pot, or a card and give it away, draw stick figures of what you wish you were doing together and send it to your friend, send your friend something off Amazon that you know they would love!

 

Physical Distancing with Compassion: All of the huggers in the world are not ok. Please have compassion on them. There are still ways you can show people you love them without touching them. Please do not shame people at this time if they are sad and long for some physical presence. If you are a hugger and you are feeling this loss acutely, it’s ok to admit it. Do a drive-by for your hug loving friend, show them that they matter by keeping your distance but still being willing to be present and show your face. Talk to someone from their porch while you stand in the driveway. It is safe for us to do this IF you keep your distance. Just stay in the open air and stay 6 to 12 feet away from each other and stay one-to-one. Don’t give up on being present especially for those who are lonely. Visit through the window of your house! Be creative! 

 

Quality Time: Even though we can’t sit and just be with one another physically, you CAN give of yourself and your time even in the midst of these challenges. Set aside an hour to call or facetime someone you love and even schedule it so that they know you are thinking of them and they know you’ve carved this time out for them. Be intentional with your attention and signs of affection. It matters to these people greatly.

 

This is a time of stress. It is not the “new normal” it is ABNORMAL. Don’t call it normal! It is a time in life where we will be challenged to think outside the box. Keep telling the people you love that you love them and how you love them. It will help you to feel better and it will help the person you share your love with feel better too.

 

Finally, I want to remind us all that there is no shame in getting COVID-19. The people who have contracted this virus will need safe love the MOST. Don’t let fear rule you or keep you from sharing the love that you have for others. Be safe and choose to love!

Unwell…

As my life has unfolded before me, there are certain authors I’ve clung to and learned from who have impacted my views in hindsight and my hope for my future so deeply that I couldn’t untie myself to their work if I tried.  I have found so much freedom from Dr. Dan Allender’s work as a therapist, teacher and author. I’ve read the majority of his works and I listen to his podcast on a regular basis.

I think what I love about Allender-beyond the healing and help his work has offered to me-is how honest he is about hurt. In one breath he can cry curses over the pain of this life, the evils of this world, and in another he can proclaim the richness of God’s beauty and goodness. I am still learning how to hold both pain and joy to the glory of God. Allender’s work is an encouragement and a guide to how to do that humbly and hopefully better with time.

For all of you Parks and Rec fans, I do realize I sound like Chris Traeger discussing his therapist, Dr. Richard Nygaer. (Thankfully, I have other authors I love too like Brenee Brown, Shauna Niequist, Beth Moore, Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Foster, Tremper Longman, John and Stasi Eldredge,….you get the picture?) But joking and amazing sitcoms aside, Allender is an amazing resource if you are a Believer in Christ looking for a book about marriage, parenting, leadership, abuse, trauma, finding your path and more. I’m beginning to think the only thing Allender hasn’t written about is fly fishing!

In one of the most recent podcasts from The Allender Center, he discusses how communities of believers hold one another when we are not well. More specifically, the discussion focuses on the person who is admitting that they themselves are not well to others.

11141293_10153426144503933_2051468299558528271_oIt’s so easy to be the one to step in and help when trouble and hardship loom, but it often takes even more courage to be the one admitting that you are not well and you need help. I’ve shared my story here about how God began the good work in me of teaching me my need for control and how avoiding my need for help was a hindrance to my health and spiritual wellness. The post I linked to was a pivotel moment in my life that I will never forget. God used that time to teach me how to begin to be honest with others when I am not well. It began the long journey of allowing other people to help me and to acknowledge and receive such a gift.

From the podcast, “Not Doing Well” Allender and Clinton discuss the difference between powering through a hard time and admitting the truth of being unwell when the desire is to either withdraw completely from community or self soothe with a variety of potential addictions; “In so many of these patterns there is a false nobility. Whether we’re trying to shoulder all our pain and carry the weight of the world, or we’re removing ourselves from others, convinced that our absence is better for everyone when we are unwell. This sense of nobility and martyrdom is intimately wrapped up with our most well-worn structures of addiction and sabotage. Dan: “The process of disruption is the gift that actually begins to stop you.”

I’ve experienced that disruption that began to stop me from martyrdom and the sense of nobility withdrawal and self soothing brought to me.  I’m so grateful for the gift that it was in my life. It altered the path I was on in large ways that will forever impact my future path.

Holding the realities of both the deep beauty and joy of this Earth as well as the profound brokenness we carry and enact as broken people is not something a heart was designed to do alone. We need people who will be brave and disrupt us in our addictions, sabotaging, willfullness and martyrdom. This podcast that is available is only part one and I am intrigued to see where Allender and Clinton take the next episode. But for all of you who might be unwell, who might be in a season of deep sorrow and sweat pants, I want to offer you some interruption with gentle love and care. As another favorite author, has said, “Tell the people you love what you need.” Brenee Brown.

Blessings on you as you walk with Jesus, even when you are unwell. Thank you Jesus, that you are the Healer.

https://theallendercenter.org/2019/03/not-doing-well-1/

Other works by Dr. Dan Allender:

To Be Told
The Wounded Heart
The Cry of the Soul
Leading with a Limp
Bold Love
The Healing Path
How Children Raise Parents

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