At this stage in lockdown/life, we’re ground down. It takes less to send us over the edge. A little bit angrier. Slightly more tearful. A bit less Fine. It’s tough for everyone; not least those with existing mental health struggles or addictions. So, what helps?..
1. Sometimes – often – absolutely nothing. You feel rubbish – and that’s it. You’re reading your bible, trying to pray, taking daily walks, staying busy, etcetc … and nothing changes. I’m sorry. Well done for doing what you can. Keep going. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to pull yourself out. Don’t think that you’ve missed some magical verse or food or book or list that will make it better. Don’t assume you’re horrible/God has abandoned you/this is it. You’re a sinner – but you’re loved and redeemed. God will never abandon you. This too will pass.
2. Be kind to yourself. Recognise that this is a really difficult time and that simply putting one foot in front of the other is a huge achievement. You’re not uniquely messed-up or sad or lonely or frightened. You’re human and things are tough. Keep talking to the Lord and to others. And keep talking to yourself: but not like a sergeant, cracking the whip or berating you for mistakes. Speak to yourself like you’d talk to a friend, or a child that you love. It’s going to be ok.
3. Meet yourself in the middle. Perhaps, like me, you’re naturally a person of extremes. Everything is Good or Bad; Terrible or Wonderful – and there’s nothing in between. January is my mate – Another Brand New Start. But not this year. In 2021 I will not overhaul my wardrobe, my personality or my cleansing routine. I will not bake sourdough or learn a new language – unless I love it, in which case ‘hola.’ In the main, I’ll stick to good routines. But I’ll also throw ’em out the window when required. Failing at homeschool? Tomorrow is another day. Let’s watch a film.
4. Don’t listen to your own nonsense. You’ll know what it is. Your inner critic, telling you it’s pointless. Your inner bully, saying ‘work harder.’ The perfectionist, never satisfied and shouting loudest when you’re stressed and tired. So, turn up the volume on another voice; a song that tells you truth; a favourite verse. Sometimes you can’t trust your own judgement. So trust someone else; your best friend.. your doctor… your minister – and most of all, the Lord and His promises.
5. No major decisions when you’re feeling rough. Your brain (and most of the world) say you need a Peloton/Mary Poppins/spa break/pet rock/Nicholas Cage wooden spoon. Tell them you’re good. You’ve got the Holy Spirit – you don’t need a strawberry huller.
6. Ask for help. And be a helper too. You cannot do life alone. Whatever you’re facing and however you are wired, you are not uniquely addicted; not uniquely talented and not uniquely self-sufficient. The rules apply to you as well as everyone else. So admit to your weakness. Let others carry you – at least for now. After all, how can you give to others if you can’t also receive?
7. Use this time as best you can. Ask the Lord what He wants to teach you. Take the chance to go deeper in your relationships – to ask questions and speak about things that in normal times are swept under the carpet. Keep meeting – virtually – with God’s people. Remember that this is a season and God is not blindsided by it. He will redeem even this.