Me, my faith, and the Coronavirus
Five pandemic perspectives
Like many of us, my days of late have been largely spent indoors, and without the luxury and joy of face-to-face human interaction and engagement with others. That said, the smiles of the supermarket staff, the security at my condo, and the Starbucks staff have been very much appreciated!
And like many of us, I’ve done lots of thinking about life and career and what it means to be human during these wild times.
The perspectives below as you’ll see, lean fairly heavily into faith and church, where a fair bit of my thinking time has been. They are however not in any order, nor a complete summary of my recent thinking. (I do go down rabbit holes at times, distracted by cool cars and boats, interesting artwork, really smart people, and quirky jokes.)
As always, I’m very much open to your thoughts, positive or otherwise, and even more keen to connect with others who are ready to stomp on the status quo, and go for extraordinary when it comes to fresh ideas.
1. Mental health impact
People have been largely stuck at home for 60+ days now. (And a great big thank you to all the frontliners, all over the world, that continue to go out and care and serve selflessly, while so many of us can stay at home.)
From early March there have been a significant number of webinars and virtual sessions focused on varying aspects of mental health.
It’s great that both churches and secular organizations have been providing comfort, insight, and hope to those feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and stressed during these times.
And although we’re definitely in uncharted territory with this pandemic, and it can feel like our worlds have been tossed into a blender, the sheer number of mental health-focused sessions being run surprises me. It’s great that they’re happening, but a concern that there is such a need.
I sincerely hope that the pandemic is causing people to reflect — on themselves and their world, and reprioritize some things. Heavier on others, less on self. (Well that is my wish anyway.)
2. My own faith
I’ve been a Christian for 16 years now. Since that sunny January day in 2004 my life has been fundamentally different. And significantly better. One of the key things being that I have much more clarity around my purpose in life, and why I’m here. And the pursuit of that purpose, joyfully drives virtually everything I now do.
The past 16 years have been a journey with ups and downs, like most of us, but overall my life is definitely richer, more rewarding, and certainly more fulfilling. And I am also now far better equipped to handle the ‘downs’ — learning directly from them, and then striving forward with greater clarity and confidence.
Now it’s pretty easy to have ‘strong’ faith when times are good. We can go to church on Sundays, meet with our small group once a week in a comfortable café to joyfully talk about our faith and how to support one another, while listening to uplifting Christian music the rest of the time.
But when things go bad (and the Bible makes it clear that there will be struggles), it is a good test of our faith. And this pandemic has been a venerable test.
My business has been directly impacted by the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. Despite the fact that much of our business is conducted face-to-face with clients, and therefore the virus is a direct assault on our revenue streams, I feel good and am without worry.
And I chalk up this lack of worry or anxiety to my faith. It’s working. The time I’ve put into deepening my faith since 2004 appears to be paying off.
I’m not bragging. I just feel like I’m doing this faith thing right. The way I’ve always understood it to work: Put 100% of my trust in God — that he will look after me and I will have nothing to fear in this world, before gleefully arriving at eternal life in heaven — even though I have no way to confirm that this is actually true.
(Or more eloquently put in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”)
I haven’t felt anxiety, stress, or worry since the lockdown began — in relation to my business, my health, nor the complete uncertainty about international travel and when I will see my family again.
My faith is working as I understand it is supposed to. And for that I’m extremely thankful.
3. My need to go deeper
I’m thankful that my faith appears to be functioning properly, and the time (and joyful effort) that I’ve invested into it seems to have paid off.
But that said, this pandemic has also highlighted that there is more that I can do. The gorgeous thing about faith in action is that if I’m not spending time worrying about myself or my future, I can use that time to serve and help others.
This lockdown has shown to me that I should/need to do more of that. A lockdown by definition makes serving others more difficult, but this is all the more reason to get creative about it.
I still have work to do, but it’s work that I look forward to. Especially doing it with others. #faithisateamsport (and #lifeisateamsport)
4. Churches could be more innovative
Now this is not a jab at the Christian church. It’s an encouragement to use its unique position to do more.
This pandemic has highlighted the fact that churches are not buildings. (Which is a good thing.) The church is a collection of people (granted it is a bunch of humans, with all of the emotions, ego, faults, and hang-ups that make them human, and therefore not perfect).
The church (the collective organization) should be a leader in trying times like this. We should be a unified beacon of hope that reaches out and collectively hugs (in a variety of ways) people and communities, while providing genuine comfort in words, time, and prayer.
I’ve seen churches recently raise money for food, PPE, and other supplies, while hosting regular virtual broadcasts, and opening up their empty buildings to house frontline workers. All good things. But I can’t help feeling that during these crisis times, Christians and their churches could be more boldly leading the charge in creative and innovative ways to more deeply serve communities and those in need.
The church organization should definitely be a comforter during these times, I also feel it should be equal part mobilizer.
The church is the central connecting point to all of its people. This unique position can allow the church to act as a connector — tapping into its network to actively connect people with complementary skills, access, and desire to serve beyond what they can do on their own individually.
Individually, there are people doing great things, but as Christians I feel that we can do more — rallying fellow Christians through both established and more grass roots channels, to enthusiastically come together and seek ways to serve more and further.
And I won’t end this section without making a comment about myself. Yes, there is also more I could be doing here. The church is the people, and it definitely doesn’t always have to be the pastors and formal leadership that initiate everything. I also have more work to do in this area. So hey Christians, let’s talk!
5. The good and the bad of the virtual church
Good: Church in your living room is easier to attend. No traffic. No need to prepare/convince/incentivize/entertain young children in order to get them out the door on time. Little time is spent choosing an outfit and doing your hair. But there are also some really great stories about households where not every member goes to church, yet because church is ‘on’, other curious family members end up sitting down and joining in.
Good: Although many churches already broadcasted their services live, more churches are now doing so during the pandemic, and there is now a wide range of churches that you can ‘attend’ now virtually. And different time zones allow us to watch various live services all over the world. (A shout out to Central Church in Las Vegas and their passionate pastor Jud Wilhite. I stumbled across Central via a former colleague’s Facebook post one weekend. Love that!)
Bad: A potential bad, when churches reopen their doors, that some people will elect to stay at home and watch church online more often, after getting comfortable with how easy and simpler it is. (Remember church isn’t the building, it’s the people, and we need to gather together again.)
Bad: A personal bad for me, is that I seriously miss live worship music right now. And that energy that can only arise when you have hundreds, and in some cases thousands of people, gathered together under one roof, singing, praising, and dancing together for a single purpose!
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect. And I definitely don’t expect anyone else to be perfect. But I do believe in:
- Sharing perspectives and thoughts on how I see the world, and
- How we might make things better, together
I love (no, I thrive) collaborating and sharing ideas with others. The energy and burstiness that comes with it is exhilarating, inspiring, and oh-so invigorating.
So let’s go (Christians and non-Christians), now and post-pandemic, and let’s together continue to question the status quo and create something better, together!