Covid Marathon Blues

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The first 6-8 weeks of this pandemic were wild. Honestly, I was feeling a little (very) paralyzed by anxiety, but we forged ahead in faith, hope, and love anyway and figured it out. By the grace of God, I can step back, look at the past few months, and say that my family and I have found a rhythm that feels good and a pace that is realistic and healthy for all of us.

But this past week or so has felt like a temptation to despair. Just when we thought things were getting better, cases have started rising, fall plans are changing, and all of the sudden it just feels like too much again. 

It feels a bit like I showed up for a half-marathon and somehow ended up getting stuck with the crazy, full-marathon crowd, and the only way out is to keep going. 

Except what’s left in me doesn’t feel like it’s enough to get me and the three little people at my ankles to the finish line in one piece. Maybe you can relate, too.

At this stage in 2020, this looks a lot like: 

  • Feeling like you are running on fumes
  • Feeling negative, irritable, depressed, argumentative, impatient, explosive, and anxious
  • Battling with physical and emotional fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or thinking 
  • Temptation towards sinful and risky behavior
  • Feeling drawn to self-destructive and numbing coping behavior 
  • Persistent pain and tension
  • Poor and inconsistent sleep 
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and dissatisfaction with life

In most races, right about when people’s minds and bodies start to doubt their ability to push through to the end, organizers provide a table with provisions like energy bars and other body fuel so that you can take a second, recalibrate your expectations, your pace, and your cadence in order to push through to the end.

If you need that table, consider this your invitation to reset or pivot your expectations of yourself, your family, your community, and how the rest of the year is going to go.

Some things you may want to consider as you gulp down some extra nourishment and move forward, one step at a time, are to: 

Keep The Finish Line In Mind. 

Or… make sure you’re focused on the right one. 

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the only way to run with endurance the race that God has set before us is to keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). The finish line is CHRIST. He is the goal. For a lot of us, if we’re honest, we want this “Rona-mess” to be over so that we can have our freedom, prosperity, peace, and convenience returned to us. But maybe it’s time to refocus our hearts on the only finish line worth running towards–Jesus.

Embrace discipline, training, and take initiative in your self-care. 

Let’s get practical. 

There is always intense and intentional nourishment available at the reset table.

The writer of Hebrews invites us to examine our commitment to submission, to discipline, training, maturity, and the change we need to undergo in order to finish well. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12:11-13)

When it comes to faithful self-stewardship, a night of Netflix and a gallon of Blue Bell will not fuel you sufficiently for the rest of your marathon, as wonderful as it may sound right about now. Your body’s stress response–a beautiful gift designed by God to protect and care for you–has been working extremely hard, with little to no breaks, since February. Maybe part of why we’re all falling to pieces physically and emotionally is because we haven’t been nourishing ourselves the way we actually need to in order to finish this marathon without falling apart. 

Consider exercising faithful discipline in your self-stewardship by:

  • Seeking to understand what exactly is happening in your body as it endures chronic stress and how you can best support it.
  • Taking stock of and evaluating your current self-stewardship disciplines. If they’re not serving you well anymore, they need to change.
  • Creating and implementing an intentional self-stewardship strategy that is flexible yet consistent, holistic, characterized by self-discipline (rather than self-indulgence), nourishment, healing, and love.
Run Towards Connection, Not Away From It.

But also, social-distancing.

Friends, authentic human connection is probably one of the single most effective stress management strategies we have. Yes, there are restrictions around how this can happen right now, but know that you need to prioritize using every single avenue available to you to remain connected to others, especially those in your community of faith.

The writer of Hebrews also challenges the church to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as the Day approaches.” (Hebrews 10:25)

When we continue to meet together as a Christ-centered community, even when it’s difficult:

  • We remind one another of why all of this matters, why we can never give up. 
  • We hold one another in our pain and despair. 
  • We exhort one another towards faithful self-stewardship and discipline, when it’s easier to fall into destructive and sinful selfishness, self-comfort and self-indulgence. 
  • We confess to and forgive one another when our anguish tempts us into sin. 
  • We are a safe place for each other when the world feels like it’s falling to pieces. 

As I think about that refreshment table, I am reminded of another table that is freely available to all of us. Christ sits at its head and invites all who are weary and unable to come join Him. He seats us beside and among others, and we are never truly alone. We eat, are nourished and satisfied, and then He offers us His blood and His body. He offers Himself for the journey ahead. 

As we approach the table, my prayer for my family in Christ is that we would accept the invitation extended to us: 

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).

By Lauren DaSilva. Lauren and her family are proud South Africans who are over the moon to be living in Waco with their 15 chickens. Lauren is passionate about empowering women who feel stuck in survival-mode to deploy courage, authenticity, and wisdom in cultivating peace and flourishing.

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