None of us were prepared for a worldwide pandemic.
Our lives are different in many ways. Our workplace, whether inside or outside the home, has changed. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent loss of life may have invited you to pause, reflect, and look life in the eye. In doing so, perhaps you understand better who and what are important to you.
The answers in this reflection will probably reveal much to you regarding your heart and meaning in life, and those two things can certainly shine light on your principles for work and personal relationships. It would be interesting to reflect further on how your past experiences, especially related to your response to stress, helped form who you are. We are shaped by those experiences. You are encouraged to write about your reflections. Putting our words on paper helps to give them meaning.
In our boundaries and self-care training, we talk often of the reality for pastors to juggle the many roles they fill in ministry. We acknowledge the direct correlation between self-care and the ability to establish healthy boundaries in relationships. Put another way, if you are not doing your work around good self-care, you are not practicing healthy boundaries.
We talk openly and honestly about how to hold the demands of our professional life in a healthy tension with our personal life. And now, for so many of us, both of those lives are primarily happening from the confines of our homes. Those with children at home are now teachers while scheduling business meetings throughout the same 9-hour work/school day. Social distancing adds even more to our sense of isolation. For some, there is a new challenge regarding care and support for elderly relatives and friends. Others who live alone may feel loneliness in a way they never have felt. And so, while life has "stopped" in some respects, life continues to go on, also.
- In general, how are you taking care of yourself: physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
- Who/what are the "helpers" in your life?
- What are you doing to nourish your soul?
- How do you build in time for fun and time for rest?
- Are there ways you can and/or have turned social distancing into deep connections?
- If you are partnered, how do you and your partner prioritize time together?
- If you are a clergyperson, how do you continue to provide pastoral presence and care to parishioners during this time?
- How are you monitoring your boundaries in relationships via social media and the internet?
- What are your challenges and what has worked well for you?
There are many articles and other resources available to offer information about the adjustments we are asked to make at this time. We have selected a few and hope the following will offer some calm and focus for you.
- In order to do something about anything, we must first name the issue. Sometimes it is easy to not recognize grief when it shows up in our lives. This article in the Harvard Business Review offers clarity and understanding related to experiences of grief.
- Brené Brown Ph. D, LMSW, teaches a TED talk about the relationship between joy and gratitude. People who intentionally practice gratitude tend to have more joy in their lives. It can be easy during times like these to forget about naming what we are grateful for. Listen to her talk here. Do you keep a gratitude journal or name the ways you are grateful each day? How can you be more intentional in practicing gratitude?
- Southern Methodist University's Counseling Services has developed a resource that lists eleven suggestions for ways to stay emotionally well during these difficult and unpredictable times. You can read it here.
- This prayer from Nadia Bolz-Weber names some specific groups of people and conditions affecting each. There are many more. Perhaps it can serve as a template as you lift others in prayer.
God who made us all,
Our healers are exhausted, God. Give rest to those who care for the sick.
Our children are bored, God. Grant extra creativity to their caregivers.
Our friends are lonely, God. Help us to reach out.
Our pastors are doing the best they can, God. Help them to know it is enough.
Our workers are jobless, God. Grant us the collective will to take care of them.
Our fellow parents are losing their minds, God. Bring unexpected play and joy and dance parties to all in need.
Our grocery workers are absorbing everyone's anxiety, God. Protect them from us.
Our elderly are even more isolated, God. Comfort them.
We haven't done this before and we are scared, God.
I don't even know what else to pray for. Amen.
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is here for you. We would love to connect with you. Please share with us stories and pictures of how you are practicing self-care and good boundaries during these difficult times. You can email us at [email protected]