by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference
This pandemic arrived, and before we knew what hit us, our life, work, and relationship rhythms were disturbed. Unfortunately, many have lost work hours or jobs and with them, the ability to cover personal expenses. While many haven’t lost health or loved ones, we’ve all lost our former sense of “normal” along with the sense of security (actual or imagined) in the way life is supposed to flow. Some may ask, is there anything good that can come from this pandemic? We’d like to suggest that one of the best things that can result from this pandemic is the personal growth that can take place, thanks to the array of emotional, physical, vocational, relational and even spiritual challenges this crisis has gifted us with.
Discovering meaning in the midst of crises
What is the most surprising discovery you have made about yourself in this experience? Have you become more patient or impatient? Have you enjoyed being sheltered at home in the company of others or do you miss your alone time? Have you been able to sustain a peaceful and content spirit or has growing fear or anxiety about the future unveiled previously unidentified vulnerabilities? Who are the people in your support network you have you been able to rely on during this season?
It is important to create some sense of what is going on. This is not an easy task, given the diverse opinions surrounding this particular pandemic. While we may never fully understand the complex undercurrents undergirding what is going on, we can choose to use this time to
reflect on the life lessons we are learning about ourselves, about others and about God’s sovereign love and care. We’d like to suggest that making a list of things you’ve identified about yourself that you’d like to change, is a helpful beginning. If nothing comes to mind, we suggest you may want to ask your spouse, workmates, or even your children regarding the changes they would like for you to make. Ask God to show you how you can improve your family or social relationships, your diet, your exercise program, your marriage. Ask yourself, “How can my life and my relationships actually improve throughout this season?”
Perhaps one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves are regarding the personal beliefs that sustain us. What do you value above all else? Our core beliefs and values can offer us experiences that will continue to give meaning to all the circumstances that life on earth may present to us.
Identify what’s still working
What aspects of your life have kept you stable so far? What areas of your life, have you already improved or changed for the better? What life rhythms have you maintained despite the ever changing external factors?
What resources do you still have? Do you still have your family, friends or partner in your life? What resources have you managed to develop so you feel more resilient? It has been said that resilient people continue to function and thrive despite external factors, while people who see themselves as victims, feel incapacitated.
Each of us must ask ourselves, how we are surviving this crisis? One resilient survivor wrote:
“7 Never after all, we have this treasure in clay vessels so that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are troubled in all but not distressed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not helpless; despondent, but not destroyed. ” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
The apostle Paul flourished despite his multiple crises by his faith and hope in Jesus, for the tender love he had for his spiritual family spread throughout the known world; and for the passion and commitment to his work, ministry, and spiritual calling. These powerful motivations can also be the foundations for your personal growth and maturity during this global crisis: your faith, love, and trust in a God who is far too merciful and compassionate to withhold anything that He can recycle for our edification.