We are now more than two years into the pandemic. When it all began in March of 2020, I never imagined it could last for more than a few months. After the past two years of ups and downs in church ministry, I am feeling tapped out, both creatively and professionally. The program year started with hopeful anticipation that a vaccine for children would arrive soon. It was my Advent prayer answered to have families returning with their children to in-person Sunday school, worship, and choir programming as their children were vaccinated. Our programs have been slowly starting up again.
After two years of pivoting and shifting, modifying lesson plans to adapt to outdoors, online, in masks, in-person and distanced, and with fewer children in the class, I am tired. I am tired from working around the twists and turns of a never-before-driven road. I keep hearing in my head the phrase “dig deep.” I am not an athlete. I have never participated in an event where the words “dig deep” were part of the vernacular, but I am at the “dig deep” place in the pandemic. I’m trying so hard to find these reserves.
I am gathering methods of self-care to feed my soul and body for this longer-than-I-ever-imagined trek of working through COVID. I have been thinking about how Jesus is always a great model of love and care for every situation. Jesus prays when things are very hard. Jesus finds and makes friends, nurtures his friendships, and is a loyal companion. Jesus loves the outdoors and embraces God’s creation as a place for respite, teaching, enjoying fellowship, and eating meals. Jesus searches out times of peaceful rest after big events. Jesus took a nap on a boat after a long day of teaching.
Self-care for me involves outdoor space, some fresh air and sunshine, and an easy walk. I have missed seeing friends in person for lunches or coffee. Self-care is renewing relationships with people whose spirits are joyful and shining. I have continued to pray during the pandemic, but often my prayers are filled with sadness and anxiety. Self-care is finding ways to pray in thanksgiving for all the abundant gifts that still surround me and my loved ones. Self-care is taking a nice nap after teaching. Finding time and space for self-care gives me a chance to renew my energy for this incredible work. The pandemic is unknown terrain, but Jesus’ model for love and kindness is eternal.