Back in the day when you wanted to watch a movie, you’d go to Blockbuster and rent a videocassette, which you’d watch using your VCR. Blockbuster movies came in a rental box that said: Be Kind – Rewind. Translation: Take time to rewind the videotape so it’s ready for the next viewer. Be Kind – Rewind.
Let’s update that slogan for this pandemic: Be Kind – Unwind. Translation: Be kind in these tough times to others – and to yourself. Be Kind – Unwind. Take time to unwind. Take time in this pandemic to breathe, relax, and take care of yourself because God loves you. Since God loves you and since you should love the things God loves, you should love yourself as well.
This pandemic has been plaguing us for six months – and there’s still no end in sight. In addition to the death toll and economic toll, there is an emotional toll that affects us all.
Uncertainty, anxiety, and isolation are wearying. Our coping skills are constantly tested. Researchers say that substance abuse, eating disorders, mental illness, suicide, and domestic violence are all increasing. Covid-19 threatens us all physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So, what should we do?
In addition to taking care of ourselves physically – by wearing masks in public, maintaining social distance, and following sound medical guidance – we need to be just as intentional about taking care of ourselves emotionally and spiritually. Here are some ways to do that:
First, realize that God wants you to flourish. While Jesus does ask us to sacrifice our selfish ways in order to follow his selfless way, Jesus does not want us to suffer needlessly – especially during a pandemic. Jesus wants us all to make it through this time alive. And for that to happen, we must cooperate with God to care for others – and ourselves. God wants us to love everyone, and everyone includes you. God wants you to love yourself; to care for yourself; and to be kind to yourself. During a particularly stressful time, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” How can we follow Jesus’ command to do that today?
If you’re beating yourself up because you aren’t as productive as usual, cut yourself some slack. This is a pandemic. This is tough. So, extend yourself some grace. Be patient with yourself – and others – by acknowledging that we are all doing the best we can during and despite this extraordinary time.
What’s more: God commands us to rest. Abstaining from work so God can recreate us is so important that it made God’s top ten list. It’s in the Ten Commandments. Keeping Sabbath so it can keep you is essential for your soul to be well and for your relationship with God and others to be healthy and alive. How is God inviting you to keep Sabbath? What blessing is God hoping to give you as you rest in him?
Whatever feeds your soul – being in nature, loving on your pet, enjoying the music you really love – these are heaven-sent paths to joy, refreshment, and peace. These are the Sabbath paths Jesus wants to walk with you today.
When I worked at a psychiatric hospital, a wise nurse said, “If you want to help anyone, you have to practice good self-care. Without that you won’t do anyone any good – and you’ll cheat yourself out of the good blessing God wants to give you.” She was right.
Sometimes God’s blessings arrive like Amazon packages. They just appear instantly, effortlessly on your front doorstep. But mostly God’s blessings arise like the produce from a backyard garden. That goodness comes thanks to God – and our faithful tilling and tending of the soil.
As we till and tend our soul, which is the seedbed of our life, God will cause good things to arise for us and within us. Sufficient rest gives rise to patience. Patience gives rise to compassion. And compassion – love — is the most powerful force in the universe. Self-care is not irrelevant or selfish. It is the simple, essential recognition that we are mortal. We need rest. We need to care for ourselves. In order to be good stewards of God’s gift of life, we need to take care of our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And as we do that, good gifts from the Spirit will arise.
What can you do today to take care of the life God has given you? Recovery meetings, good counselors, antidepressant medications, meditation techniques, and other wise, gentle habits will not spare you from tough times, which come to us all, but they will make those times so much easier and your life so much happier. They will shape your life for God and they will change the world for good.
The good news is that God loves you. God wants you to love others. God wants you to love yourself. In these tough times, join God in loving the world. Say yes to Jesus as he invites you to rest and simply be with him. Let us hear, respond, and live.