“Be Still and Know That I am God.” – Psalm 46:11
Mid-March a majority of the world came to a screeching halt.
COVID-19 became the great equalizer.
Schools, businesses, travel plans, and public places to gather are closed and all are forced to BE STILL.
The entire world learned quickly that no matter your economic status, marital situation, educational accomplishments, race or level of health, that most aspects of life are out of our control.
And how did YOU react?
And Reflect on that thought for a bit.
With a wincing face, I could delve into how I should NOT have acted and no doubt you could too.
Rather than open THAT can of worms, I want to focus on what God taught me as I process the past few months.
Know how to be still.
The complex word ‘still’ has many definitions, but one I found to be very profound from Mariam- Webster’s online dictionary is this:
Stillness is “a state of freedom from storm or disturbance.”
What irony. That as COVID-19 storms across the world and most were forced to be STILL and REMAIN, I complained and whined (as well as wined) about my lack of freedom to do what I ‘need’.
Yet, God was telling me that freedom could be found in the stillness of the storm with the right perspective.
God was reminding me to return and focus on what is ABOVE by reflecting on the unnecessary causes of storm that my daily choices create in my life.
My circumstances may not be yours and yours may not be mine, but my hope is that perhaps some of these thoughts spur reflection for seeking and reflecting on what the good Lord is trying to teach you.
In turn, I hope it inspires you to grow closer to Him while coming out of the STILLNESS of THE STORM of COVID.
First things first. I learned to ask myself:
Is Being Busy Best?
Single or married, I’m sure most can relate here.
I do not know why, but I can NOT STAND to see a clear calendar in my future.
All too frequently I place my personal VALUE on the amount of activities I have before me.
I fall into the false notion that busy is best and if I’m not Doing SOMETHING – I’m not valuable.
Where do you fall in this thought?
Now, where, pray tell, does Christ tell us that the busier we are the better off or MORE VALUEABLE we are?
In fact, He tells us to do and personally practices the opposite.
Frequently He seeks the stillness and calls His followers to do the same – especially before any major Life Event.
(just a few references.: Mt. 4:1-25, Mt. 8:23-27, Mk 4:39, Lk 6:12, Lk 8: 23-25, Lk 10:41-42; Jn 16:33, 1 Pt 3:4, 1 Pt 5:7, Rm 12: 2, Rm. 12:12)
As I write this I can hear myself telling people what I have next on my agenda and all the things I HAVE to DO.
I’m a bit of a glutton for experiences and a tendency to never say ‘no’ has opened the doors to many personal life experiences for better and for worse.
As a single and active woman, I find myself wanting to take every bite out of the “joie de vivre” that I can. I truly want to live without regret to opportunities placed in front of me.
I never want to think that I missed out because I was “too afraid” or “too tired” to embrace a chance to grow, to meet someone new or catch up with quality people that God has placed in my life that I am blessed to call community.
(Single or not, I’m sure a mother wanting a plethora of opportunities for her children or fun vacation time can relate.)
Though these thoughts can have their benefits, during the STILL of COVID, God taught me to purge and reflect on what makes my limited time on earth most valuable.
I was forced to ask myself:
How can I choose QUALITY experiences over QUANTITY experiences in my life calendar?
Am I adding Prayer and the Mass foremost to help me choose what’s best in my day to day?
What useless preoccupations and distractions can I remove from choosing QUALITY life experiences?
This brings me to my 2nd thought during the STILLNESS of the COVID STORM.
THAT GOD IS GOD .
WHERE IS MY CONFIDENCE AND TRUST? IN THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD? OR PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY?
Oh boy. God continually brings me back to this lesson.
COVID reminded me how easily I fall into the false notion that only when I am producing or doing am I valuable AND that MY PLANS are the ONLY plans that will work out.
Again, pray tell, when does God tell us this?
In fact, He tells us the opposite.
Pretty explicitly, may I add.
“For MY plans are not YOUR plans…” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Welp, thanks God.
Personally, prior to COVID, I was clawing my way through 16 hours of school, subbing and tutoring when I didn’t have class, scheduling runs, bike rides and catching house sitting gigs up until November. I was jumping through the endless ‘hoops of life’.
COVID stormed through and schools closed, people cancelled their travel plans and thus there went some sources of income as I try to be a full time student.
After many a meltdown, I gave my plans up to Him.
Then, my phone started to ring.
My clear calendar soon began to fill up with beautiful job opportunities and social outings that involved people I loved in the great outdoors.
This was the reminder I needed that the moments that I let go of control of my own ideas are then moments when many opportunities open for me.
Without a doubt in my mind, I see God laughing and showing me His serene Power amidst my life unknowns.
True Interior Freedom can only be found by placing more trust in Him than self.
After all, He is Lord and I am not.
So, as my plans were interrupted and rearranged, the STORM of COVID reminded me to finally:
Bloom Where You Are Planted.
One of the beautiful things that COVID reminded me of was that my life could end at any moment.
We are all 1 second away from facing eternity.
ONE. SECOND. ONE. MOMENT.
The shortness of my life and the length of eternity reminded me to let go of the comparison game – to Bloom where I am in the day to day.
Personally, I am in my early 30s, single and slowly clawing my way through school. It is easy for me to look at my peers and fall into the comparison game based on my personal path, but ultimately, it’s just a waste of time.
I’m not going to delve into this today, but my life story is pretty unique in many aspects and I can easily say I have lived the lifetime of an 80 year old.
Only by God’s grace, I did inner-city and international missionary work for nearly 7 years in a pretty unique capacity.
I would not trade or change those experiences for anything – but currently, I am somewhat rebuilding my life – this can cause undue worry and cause me to fall into a pit of lies in the life comparison game.
The lie that I tell myself (and so many tell themselves) is I need to be at “this point” in my life.
Life is NOT a RAT RACE or just a checklist of to-do’s to finish. In the end of my life God will ask me how well I treated others – how much I loved
He will not ask me how much profit I secured for myself.
Life is a journey. A unique journey. To be enjoyed at moments and endured at moments – but with TRUST in GOD.
In your life, you may be entering a storm or leaving a storm.
You may be married, divorced, single, young or old, recovering from an addiction, feeling stuck in the mundane or searching for calm in the next step.
No matter where you are in your life, your circumstances, your set of skills, your scar, your crosses and your gifts are different from mine.
That is okay and wonderful.
I should view your life as complementary to mine, not as a source of competition to mine.
We are the BODY of Christ, not the COG in the MACHINE of CHRIST.
Your success does not negate my success.
My success does not negate your success.
If anything, I should take from you what you have learned and you are welcome to take from me what I have learned, so we can BLOOM together as we face the Son and journey towards our true end.