We have lived through history. We are living through history? At what point do we become a post-pandemic world? At this point, I do not know. I wonder if we ever will be post-pandemic.
At the same time the world around us is speeding back to 100 percent and is expecting 100 percent out of us. But we don’t have 100 percent to give.
As I’ve heard in several John Eldredge interviews,
“We are rallying after getting through the pandemic. In order to rally you tap into your reserves.”
We are living on our reserves.
You know this is true deep in your soul, don’t you? Now you have words for it.
We are not meant to live on our reserves. We are meant to live our lives out of the depths. And according to what I believe, out of the depths of God’s intentions towards us.
This is what living in our reserves is getting us. How true are these for you:
- We are experiencing short-term memory loss.
- We are sleepier. Every little thing makes us more exhausted.
- We have lost track of our age.
- We have a loss of creativity.
- Overthinking is crippling us because during the pandemic we didn’t even know when to shake hands.
- Work/life balance is becoming obsolete.
- We have covid weight to work off or grow to accept. Covid weight is not like regular weight gain because we didn’t put ourselves on quarantine.
- We are experiencing huge losses of trust. During the pandemic everyone became the enemy because anyone had the potential to kill you. (Ponder the damage of that?)
- We have lost trust in institutions. Particularly the government because no one knew how to lead through the pandemic.
- We have lost trust in relationships. Even though now everyone is not the enemy, our souls are recovering from this harsh truth we had to live with for much longer than the “two weeks to flatten the curve.” We have fallen out of relationship with many people. Think deeper, have you maybe made up false narratives as to why you are no longer friends with some people? Do those false narratives fall back into the safety you want because you didn’t feel safe for two years?
- We are seeking isolation more. Have you found yourself glad when you are not invited to the party? Do you experience relief when you get out of something?
- Researchers are just beginning to study the long-term damage of mask-wearing. This also made everyone the enemy because burglars and terrorists wear masks, people with good intentions don’t wear masks. Except now we do. Yes, we had to wear masks and the intentions were good and honorable. This is too upside down for our souls to figure out.
- What about the soul damage done by our increased social media use, especially during those shutdown months?
- We used to have the assumption that store shelves would be stocked and we could fly from A to B without a cancellation. Nothing feels reliable anymore. Even the basic assumptions.
- We have nothing left to give grace to irritating people.
You know this is true deep in your soul, don’t you? Now you have words for it. And please make the brave decisions to give compassion to those irritating people now that you do see this. This is part of the healing that we all need.
The pandemic gave us all a reset because the pace of life before the pandemic was unsustainable. Before the pandemic we were living in an ever-increasing pace of life. You knew this was an unsustainable pace because when you deleted those items from your calendar in March 2020 you felt joy. What was before the pandemic was abnormal. We do not want to return to abnormal. The new normal is not that abnormal.
Are you feeling any joy right now? Hopefully there have been moments of joy in this post-pandemic life. In those joyful moments do they also feel unstable? Like tragedy can still strike?
We need to replenish our reserves. We need to take care of our souls so that more healing is coming in than is going out.
We just can’t go back to normal. I especially don’t want any return to the Religion of Enoughness so prevalent before the pandemic. This Religion of Enoughness will do nothing to replenish our reserves.
With the extra time in the pandemic I did some curious study of Salesian Spirituality written by St. Francis de Sales. This is a Catholic saint who put together these then revolutionary thoughts about holiness being possible for everyone, not just the professionally religious monks and nuns. His thoughts were first published in 1609.
The Salesian tradition values doing the little things in the midst of ordinary and busy lives. In a very real sense, the person lives like Jesus by “doing all ordinary things in an extraordinary way.”
St. Francis called these little things we do little virtues. The primary Salesian virtues are Kindness, Gentleness, Thoughtful Concern for Others, Humility, Simplicity, Hospitality, Gratitude, Patience, Generosity, Honesty.
These are those small, deliberate tweaks we put into practice to lead our brains. (Read the whole series!)
According to Salesian Spirituality, when we practice these little virtues daily they will lead to the practice of the big virtues which are generally only needed a few times in a typical person’s life. What are these big virtues? Bravery, boldness, and prophetic imagination. Those big virtues are Bravester but they only come a few times in a person’s life and from daily practicing the little virtues.
Are you having an a-ha moment?
How are you daily practicing kindness?
How are you daily practicing gentleness?
How are you daily practicing thoughtful concern for others (especially the irritating people)?
How are you daily practicing humility?
How are you daily practicing simplicity?
How are you daily practicing hospitality?
How are you daily practicing gratitude?
How are you daily practicing patience?
How are you daily practicing generosity?
How are you daily practicing honesty?
Practicing the little virtues sounds like a plan forward to refresh our reserves.
There are no grand life redirection decisions here. It is slowing down and practicing these little virtues so you are ready for those God moments that require your brave decisions. It is being dependent on a Savior, and that savior isn’t me.
You can be ready for those God moments even as you are replenishing your reserves.
This sounds like a do-able faith life. Not the grand, sold-out-for-Jesus decisions which we think make up our faith life. Those moments really are rare.
Growing faith is the small, deliberate tweaks to your thinking because you choose to give God more credibility than everyone else. It is finding and valuing the moments of silence to find these little virtues. It is in those moments of doing some forest bathing. (The pandemic has also taught me to love #whattreesteachus.)
We are changed from the pandemic. All of us. May we take the moments to heal our souls and live healthier in this new normal.
Before the pandemic, during the pandemic and even now after the pandemic, life crises are still happening. The things that smash our hearts are still happening despite a pandemic. We are not exempt from pain even in a pandemic.
You have friends who need you to help them carry their pain. Your friends need you to be brave, bold and full of prophetic imagination because they are not able to.
When not being invited to the party gives you relief, the thought of helping carry your friend’s pain feels overwhelming–even though you want to. I have written a small book to help you do this well and not overwhelm you.