I am not an epidemiologist and have not studied the Coronavirus scientifically to be an expert on what advice to give you. Because of their advice, I wear a mask in public to protect you and appreciate when you do the same.
I am not in charge of schools or school districts and can’t tell you what to expect for the return to school this fall. I have a bunch of kids, however, so I’m curious what is decided.
I am not a government official whose advice is either applauded or mocked. As a citizen, I appreciate leadership that is thoughtful and has our best interests in mind as constituents. Leading isn’t easy right now.
Leading a church is unique right now too. I have an interesting role in this pandemic. The amount of anxiety, mental fatigue, and emotional stress being experienced is high. Our congregation gathers on Sundays (almost exclusively online, although we have a limited amount of people who’ve returned as long as they are wearing masks and have RSVP’d) and is yearning for spiritual guidance in the middle of the storm.
People are routinely making emotional responses about one thing that are often more intense due to the stress from Covid19.
I have had emotional responses, too. I am not immune to the anxious times.
My faith has been an integral part of my ability to respond to stress.
Through faith, I am led by hope for what is to come and believe that we all have a role in helping our community get through this pandemic together.
I was talking to a member last week about upcoming opportunities at Faith. We talked about where our congregation was going and where we are headed. It was a forward-thinking conversation filled with hope.
At one point, I answered one of his questions very matter-of-factly by saying, “someday, when we are out of the pandemic…”
I didn’t think much of it, but a few minutes later, he said something unexpected.
He thanked me for reminding him that, someday, the pandemic will be over. Our perspective on what will happen in the future matters. We know that this won’t last forever.
It’s only been 5 months, but it might feel like an eternity.
Right now, we don’t know when we’ll see the end. We don’t know how much longer these restrictions will last. We don’t know how different life will be when it’s over.
In the present turbulence, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the future and remember that this won’t last forever.
What is giving you hope right now?
What barriers are keeping you from trusting in that hope? Are you responding to anxious people with more anxiety? If so, try waiting a few hours or sleep on your response. If a response is required immediately, take a breath and remember that their anxiety might not be about you.
Who is helping you overcome those barriers or anxiety? It’s vital that we stay connected right now with the people who can help us cut through the anxiety and point us towards that future hope. That may be someone like me, your own pastor, or a spiritual coach or director.
Tomorrow is another day. In fact, there will be a “someday” when this pandemic is over.
Pastor John Klawiter is the senior pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Forest Lake. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.